The Theory of Balanceology maintains that a basal need for all of us is the sense of belonging with other humans. And, this sense of belonging needs to begin very early in life. So I ask, “What happens if a child doesn’t have that those ties of bonding and being cared for by others?” In 1945, psychoanalyst Rene Spitz studied the effects of being institutionalized as an infant. Spitz discovered that as these children got older they endured a lot of sadness. He said these children developed anaclitic (lean on) depression or hospitalism (wasting away). Institutionalized infants lack someone to “lean on” and to care about them. And, uncared for children become uncaring adults. Uncared for children can’t give what they have never received. In the 1970’s, University of Wisconsin psychologist Harry Harlow studied the effects of isolating rhesus monkeys. Harlow studied what the effects of keeping newborn rhesus monkeys in an insulated chamber would be. A sequestered chamber having no physical or vocal contact with other monkeys or with humans. Within days these monkeys withdrew, became lethargic, and gave off signs of being depressed. In later posts, I will discuss the emotional and psychological importance of being touched by another human being. I view Harlow’s study as one about the need for belongingness, and how this need exists even with a Mammalian cousin of ours (the rhesus monkeys). I suggest that the Spitz and Harlow studies of isolation and not being touched are examples of the precursors that can lead to learned helplessness (review earlier post).
In the Theory of Balanceology, I focus our basal Belonging-Need on two ways-to-belong: 1.) interpersonal belonging, and 2.) social belonging. Interpersonal belonging involves person-to-person relationships. They are relationships with a family member, a lover, or significant friendships. Relationships are meaningful connections with another person and the forming of strong emotional, psychological, and behavioral bonds by way of attachment and affiliation: 1.) attachment are ties of affection that bond two individuals together, and 2.) affiliation pertains to ties of association that connect two individuals together. In posts to come, I concentrate on two forms of interpersonal belonging -> familial and dyadic. Social belonging (social feeling) is part of being human. In posts to come, I emphasize two forms of social belonging -> social connections and community connections. Please give feedback, or ask questions as I detail these forms of belonging.
On my website Balanceology.net, I already have a photo of my little beagle Spencer. A friend of mine suggested that Spencer be the mascot for Balanceology. Spencer is a lovable little guy, but truly spoiled. Anyone who ever wants to do some doggy-sitting, to give me a break, please let me know 🙂
I want to make a case that our Belonging-Need has existential components. For me, my need to belong is part of my existential journey, because connecting with others adds meaning to my existence. Mother Teresa’s writings are existential in nature with her insightful appreciation that “the biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of not belonging.” Aristotle maintained that not belonging with other people, isolates and dehumanizes people. This existential need to belong is seen for basal, deeper, and higher need relationships. Writing from a sociological perspective Harry Stack Sullivan referred to human nature’s innate “integrating tendencies” are about “becoming a person.” (1953) Sullivan proposed that integrating tendencies are part of our biological make-up. He said becoming a person includes an interdependence that comes from having belonging relationships. We appear to be a biologically lonely species where loneliness is a primal condition, and only through belonging relationships can some of that condition be alleviated. Belongingness is that innate genomic force that pushes us to go beyond the reality of our own insular cocoon. I so value and appreciate the following quotes related to our Belonging-Need: Barbara King said, “belongingness is mattering to someone who matters to you.” (2007) For W. W. Broadbent, “belonging instinct inlcudes any behavior that involves seeking acceptance, approval, esteem, or love from other.” (1976) John Powell maintained that, “all personal growth, all personal damage and regression, as well as all personal healing and growth come through our relationships with other.” (1969) And, William Glasser said, “briefly, we must be involved with other people, one at the minimum, but hopefully many more than one. At all times in our lives we must have at least one person who cares about us, and whom we care for ourselves. If we do not have that essential person, we will not be able to fulfill our basic needs.” (1975) What do you think?
The aim of the previous posts was to demonstrate how humans have an innate drive to satisfy the basal Self-Needs of anxiety/security, worth, empowerment, and enjoyment. However, we also have an inborn desire to satisfy basal Belonging-Needs. The posts to come will name and detail our basal Belonging-Needs. We are a belonging and relationship oriented species having an instinctual pull to be with others. We have a longing-to-belong! No single person can be 100% self-contained. Longing concerns a yearning, aspiration, or impulse. Belonging is being part of someone else’s life. Belonging is a need to connect with others and to be more than just the Self. Belonging with another human is in huge contrast to having belongings —> belongings are wanting and the accumulation of stuff. A sententious part of my journey has been trying to understand the many ups and downs I have had in my interactions with others, in trying to build relationships, and realizing how truly difficult it can be to know another person. My journey includes trying to develop better ways to interact and connect with other people. I strongly desire to belong and to form relationships that are endearing-and-enduring. I suggest that all of us seek some form of interpersonal and social connections. I maintain that the fulfillment of basal Belonging-Needs sets the stage to access deeper Belonging-Needs. Only by interacting and connecting with people can we experience the nature of belonging with others.
To reiterate, the Theory of Balanceology is the study of how to satisfy our inborn needs, and thus at some level live a life that has mind-health, body-health, and meaning. It is a study of how to maintain that delicate balance between being healthy and unhealthy emotionally, psychologically, and physically. The Theory of Balanceology postulates that there are various levels of needs we try to satisfy. I have spend a significant amount of time addressing our basal Self-Needs for security/safety (free from harm), worth (self-esteem), empowerment (self-determination), and enjoyment (happiness). Anyone that is new to this site can review previous posts that go into detail defining our basal Self-Needs. The theory also suggest that humans have innate basal Belonging-Needs, that I will detail in the next posts. Our basal needs our those ground-level basic needs that set the stage for being able to go deeper into our human nature, and start satisfying our deeper-needs that bring deeper-meaning to our life (much more to come), and our higher-needs that bring higher-meaning to our life (much more to come). The Theory of Balanceology is based on my own life experiences, my education, and the way I understand human nature and the human condition. I welcome you to adapt what makes sense to you, but not to completely adopt what my theory suggests. That is, use the concepts presented in my theory in a way you think can be useful in your own life.
The Enjoyment Need is a basal Self-Need that involves happiness, pleasure, play, humor, etc. It is true, that in our life we all must find some joy. However, the short-term hedonistic goal of immediate and sustained sensual stimulation is probably not the best answer to find joy, and for experiencing need satisfaction, meaning, balance, and health. On the other hand, long-term hedonism can allow us to take the time to enjoy the great gifts of both the body and the mind. The long-term hedonist will come to the realization that the combination of mind-body satisfaction is one avenue to help satisfy the other Self-Needs for safety/security, worth, and a sense of empowerment. Socrates proposed that sensual pleasure is a prize in itself, but when combined with mind pleasure it can contribute to a real sense of happiness and contentment. The concepts of short-term and long-term hedonism will come up again in future posts when I discuss building a worldview and a philosophy that dictates our mode for/of living.
Thus, I suggest that to substantially satisfy the basal Self-Need of Enjoyment can ignite and set into motion deeper-need feelings such as joy, peace, and delight, and deeper-need thoughts such as being hopeful, joyful, and playful. To substantially not satisfy the basal Self-need of Enjoyment can ignite and set into motion deeper-need feelings such as sadness, joylessness, and emptiness, and deeper-need thoughts such as hopelessness, unhappiness, and humorlessness.