Maslow’s Hierarchy of Psychological Needs is Alive and Well in Ukraine


The hierarchy of 8 human psychological needs—how do we see them in the situation in Ukraine?




I hope you have had a chance to read our powerful and rare first-hand report from Valeriia Palii, PhD: “From the Frontlines: Words From a Mental Health Expert in Ukraine.” She is President of the National Psychological Association of Ukraine, and doing so much to help. It is the first communication that I have seen from a colleague there.

As I read her distressing, yet inspiring report, I was reminded of another psychologist—Abraham Maslow—who put together a hierarchy of human psychological needs, which were later turned into an illustrative pyramid.1 As time went on, the basic 5 levels were expanded to 8 levels, and I see all of those reflected in her piece. As I briefly cover each of those needs with her related quotes, remember that they can go back and forth in being fulfilled.

1. Physiological needs: “the most common requests during the first days centered around humanitarian problems such as lack of food and water”

2. Safety needs: “more individuals are moving to safer cities”

3. Love and belongingness needs: “our friends and partner associations from other countries are launching psychological support networks”

4. Esteem needs: “I think our volunteer movement is one of the strongest and most incredible in the world”

5. Cognitive needs: “After our victory, we plan to launch an extensive training in trauma and crisis counseling”

6. Aesthetic needs: Though Palii does not mention the arts directly, if you have been following the news, you have undoubtedly heard the stirring singing of the Ukrainian National Anthem.

7. Self-actualization needs: “I am once again taking part in events that will determine the future of my country and my personal future”

8. Transcendence: “the best coping strategy for us is to unite”

Though Maslow’s theory was geared to the individual, it can be applied to larger communities.2 Palii talks about 2 larger communities. One is the world-wide community of psychologists: “If anyone reading this article is ready to help my colleagues in Ukraine with their education, we will be glad to receive help.” And, of course, there is the greater community of Ukraine; no matter if millions become refugees, they are all Ukrainians.

Dr Moffic is an award-winning psychiatrist who has specialized in the cultural and ethical aspects of psychiatry. A prolific writer and speaker, he received the one-time designation of Hero of Public Psychiatry from the Assembly of the American Psychiatric Association in 2002. He is an advocate for mental health issues relate to climate instability, burnout, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism for a better world. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric TimesTM.


1. Maslow AH. A theory of human motivation. Psychol Rev. 1943;50(4):370-396.

2. Sarason S. Psychological Sense of Community: Prospects for a Community Psychology. Jossey-Bass; 1974.

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