The need to belonged
Dr. Abraham Maslow developed the theory of hierarchy of needs to look at how human needs and survival go hand in hand. He suggested that human needs started at the physical level (food, shelter and clothing) and gradually move up into social (safety and security), emotional (loved and belonged) and feeling good about oneself (esteem) before reaching the self-actualizing level at which one will be able to fully apply one’s potential to achieve something that will generate great satisfaction and feeling of fulfillment about what one has done regardless of how small or big the job is.
Feeling loved and belonged is fundamentally a biological need of human being. Babies in orphanages are often cared for on a schedule. They usually spend most of their time lying in a crib with very little human contact. Being picked up, being held closely and played with allow babies to feel attended to, cared for, belonged and loved. The experience of being physically touched can be felt via their five senses and will be translated into emotional experiences. When they are feeling distressed and being left for hours will inadvertently be conditioned to ignore their body signals of which are meant to alert them to cry out for help. Over time, babies will learn to shut off their feelings. Infants who are not touched can developed a condition called “failure to thrive”. It is a condition in which infants’ weight and height are significantly below the average of those of their own ages. It implicates not just a physical condition deficit but also an emotionally related underdevelopment.
The Movie character in ‘Cast Away’
The need to belonged is also well captured in a movie played by Tom Hanks. The movie reiterates the loneliness and turmoil felt by Chuck, the character in the movie. Even though Chuck was in an island for just over four years, the film illustrates the limitations Chuck encountered having to live alone with no companionship. The audience witness the hardships Chuck faces once he comes back to the place he has been longing to be for when he was in that island. Everything he left behind in those years has changed: his girlfriend has married another man and his company is run entirely differently than before. He comes back to nothing. His return has become his new island. There is a social disconnect since his return. To start again, Chuck needs to redevelop a sense of belonging within the present social context he lives.