If you look at Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, he says that our most basic needs are those for food, water, shelter and safety. But if you look at how helpless human babies are, you realize that our fragile children are dependent on the adults in their lives to provide for those needs for years before they can survive on their own.
Years of research on attachment in children have taught us that babies depend on their caregivers to provide for needs of love and safety. The need for love and care is a primal one, which if not satisfied can lead to death.
Even if a baby's physical needs are met, they can still die without human attention. It took years for this to be discovered and in the 18th and 19th centuries, most babies that were in orphanages died before they were 1-2 years old.
According to the European Institute of Perinatal Mental Health,
To thrive, it was discovered, an infant needs to be held, walked in someone´s arms, caressed, hugged, sung to,even if not being breastfed. It is this contact, the hugging, caressing, tender care that we want to point out. It is these basic calming experiences that help the infant survive and thrive. Even extreme sensorial deprivation of other senses, like lack of light or sound, can be overcome as long as sensory stimuli on the skin are provided.
This research shows that Maslow was wrong. Our first and most basic need is the need for love. We need human connection more than we need anything else. People need other people to survive. No one is an island, and isolating ourselves can cause a host of negative consequences.
Post-Pandemic, people are now facing an Epidemic of Loneliness. The Surgeon General of the United States has even said that the health risks of loneliness are comparable to those of smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
A lack of human connection can literally kill us.
And yet... we aren't doing anything to combat our own loneliness. We aren't reaching out and building bridges. We have less close friends, less people are getting married and having children, we are losing empathy and narcissism is increasing.
We need to love each other more, be more kind to each other, show more compassion and open up our hearts.
Turns out the Beatles were right: All we need is love.