Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The Outsider and the Hierarchy of Needs


There are many reasons why people begin to wake up and become outsiders. Addiction or bereavement are the most powerful reasons that people become dissatisfied with society and start to feel alienated.

Outsiders have left the comfort of the group; they can no longer happily go along with life. They feel like there is something wrong, something in the back of their mind telling them that their life is a fake. Marriage, work and money begin to become meaningless to them. They begin to see the transiency of life and the emptiness of morality. They see through the lies of religion and they enter what is known as the dark night of the soul.

They haven’t fully let go of the group and can go on for years or a whole lifetime ignoring their intuitions. Occasionally they enjoy the pleasures of life: alcohol, sex and social gatherings. But they can no longer fully switch off and go with the flow of the group.

This is a very dangerous and frightening time for somebody on the path to enlightenment. Here the outsider, if he does not know that he has in fact become an outsider, can fall into many problems and vices. The enlightened man is, in a way, no longer human; he has transcended the subconscious impulses of group behavior. The Outsider has begun to see through the behaviors of the group but has not yet become enlightened, he hasn’t discovered an alternative way of being and therefore feels alienated and lost. He is trapped between the group and truth.

To understand what is happening here we need to look at the psychology of the group. Arthur Maslow suggested the ‘hierarchy of needs’ for explaining how the group functions. When a man is hungry all of the time he can’t think of anything but food, his idea of heaven is a room full of delicious food; so the first ‘need’ is food. If he manages to solve the problem of food he will then feel a desire for security, for a home or his own ‘territory’. If he satisfies this desire his sexual needs become urgent, not just the act of sex but the feeling of belonging that comes from having a sexual partner. If he succeeds in achieving this he then feels a desire to become liked and admired by society, he wants the respect and admiration of his neighbor to boost his self-esteem. If a person succeeds in achieving these needs Maslow says that they will then go onto a state of ‘self-actualizing’.

Maslow discovered this theory from studying apes in the zoo. He noticed a constant fight for dominance in the ape community through the act of sex. He noticed that there was a pecking order and that dominant apes bullied the less dominant ones. From this he gained a deep insight into the psychology of the apes. He then applied the theory to humans. Through doing testing he discovered that humans are indeed similar to apes and that there are high dominance, medium dominance and low dominance males and females. It is this alpha dog dynamic to human behavior, people seeking to fulfill their needs that rules our society.

The dominance theory explains the core problem of the ego. Every being deep down feels that he is unique and special, the center of the universe, he wants recognition and pleasure, provided to him by others. This is most noticeable in children, if Jonny and Jane sit down to eat dinner and Jane gets more food than Jonny he will immediately cry out that it is unfair. The ego, at its foundation, is a bundle of childish thinking patterns that see the self as being the center of a drama where the self is the hero. If the hero doesn’t get recognized or treated equally the ego cries out in shock, me, me, me! The ego wants power and it wants to be the center of attention, when its desires are frustrated it resorts to negative emotions like rage or jealousy. The dominance theory suggests that there are different strengths of ego in people that build up the hierarchy in any group. The person with the biggest ego becomes the dominant member of a group and it is nothing to do with intellectual or physical dominance.

Often an outsider is someone who is naturally intellectually or physically dominant but who doesn’t have a big ego. In an enlightened society such a being would naturally lead, but in an alpha dog society he would be challenged by anyone with a bigger ego. The outsider has begun to see through the mask of the ego and without it finds it difficult to get energized enough to play along with fulfilling the ego’s needs.

If the ego is frustrated too much in any one area of the hierarchy of needs he may turn to crime to try to satisfy his needs. He drops out of the game and tries to cheat to fulfill his ego desires. It is important that we do not mistake the outsider for the criminal.

However until he decides that he must continue on his spiritual path (or even recognize that there is such thing) the outsider is in great danger of becoming a criminal. If he doesn’t find a spiritual path then pretty soon, out of sheer annoyance at his fellow man, in the same way a teenager would get annoyed with the games of small bossy children, he may decide that he has had enough and begin to commit crimes against the group. This is a different motive from the will to power of the fight for ego dominance and achieving Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. If he doesn’t find the path the other option he has is to hide in an addiction like alcohol or heroin, to numb the reality of his situation.
The outsider is one who has become aware of the alpha dog society but who feels instinctively that it is wrong, that there is or should be another way of being. He feels that to play the games to achieve Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and fit into the pecking order is absurd. He feels that there is a greater meaning to life; he intuitively senses that he must evolve naturally into something else.


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