The Lockdown List of Needs

It has been over 3 months now and we are almost used to our new ways of life. We have figured how to work around corona. Face masks are now a part of our grocery list. Sanitizers aren’t just a part of a cleanliness obsessed purse. The adjustment we have made for the new way of life speaks a lot about the priorities of our needs.

The other day I was speaking with my mother and she told me how things seem to have gone back in time. She remembers how it was common to have a storage room in everyone’s house which used to be full of food stored that will stay for a year. Now we don’t need that anymore surely. But we definitely will take into consideration to stock up for at least a month. When the lockdown began my family and I was so glad that they were stuck with me and that we were together. Few friends struggled to go back to their families. The lockdown forced us to stop and slow down. It made us rethink our priorities and our needs.

Abraham Maslow who is considered the founder of the humanistic psychology movement, in his theory of motivation, talks about a hierarchy of five innate needs that activate and direct human behavior. He called them Instinctoid. They are arranged in order from strongest to weakest in the form of a pyramid. Lower needs must be satisfied at least partially before higher needs become influential. The needs can be broadly classified into two parts- Deficiency needs and Growth needs.

  • Deficiency needs can be broadly classified in:

1. Basic needs – This includes physiological needs and safety needs. As the name suggests these needs are rudimentary for survival. E.g. food, water, shelter, sleep, clothing are physiological needs; and safety needs include personal security, employment, health, etc. It is rare for middle-class people to worry about these basic needs, and luckily we don’t have to stress about them due to privilege. But we have seen the struggle the migrant people suffered from the sudden lockdown. Unfulfilled basic needs led the migrants to walk thousands of kilometers by foot to reach a safe shelter in their hometown.

2. Psychological needs- The need for belongingness and esteem. Belongingness and love needs can be expressed through a close relationship with a family, friend, or social relationship formed within a group. Because of the individualistic nature of modern society, it’s harder to address our psychological needs. We move to different cities and have to leave behind our friends, family members, and social circle. We try to work our way out and try to get a sense of belonging through maybe enrolling in a class, socializing in the workspace, etc. but we are deprived of that option due to our current situation. Esteem needs are a feeling of accomplishment and prestige. In our current crisis, the main focus in our society is achieving the basic needs. Corona has shut down or reduced accessibility to the opportunities that will help us work on our esteem needs, and we are seeing its effects too.

  • Growth needs arise as a desire to grow as an individual. According to Maslow, an individual can act upon the growth needs only if the deficiency needs are met. The growth needs are cognitive (knowing and understanding), aesthetic (desire for order and beauty), and self-fulfillment needs which are a highly developed state of consciousness where actualization means the realization of one’s greatest potential, talents, and abilities. Maslow called it the fullest development of the self.   

Corona has knocked us down from this pyramid and has driven us to pay attention to the deficiency needs. At this point, many of us cannot worry about the needs that are up the pyramid. This situation has further proved Maslow’s theory of motivation; there is a hierarchy of needs and the basics will always come first and are necessary to climb up the ladder. Many of us are stuck and struggling at one or the other stage of need, and our current situation is not making it any simple to work on. The importance of things that really matter in our lives has been significantly diluted due to its abundance and easy availability. We are seldom thankful for things like food, drinking water, the internet, electricity, and the presence of friends, support of family, our social circles, and many more. Someone has rightly said, “You never realize the value of something until it’s gone, hence why you should always appreciate the little things in life.” In my opinion, the only silver lining to the whole corona situation is that it has made us realize the gravity of the absence of things that we usually take for granted. This gives us an opportunity to be grateful for what we already have and value it dearly.  

Take it easy,


(MA Clinical Psychology, PGD Counselling)

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