::The 10 Essential Emotional Needs::

We are all born with essential physical and emotional needs and the innate resources to help us fulfil them – known as human ‘givens’ – which need to be met in order to facilitate good mental health.

Following are the ten main innate emotional needs:

1) Security — safe territory and an environment which allows us to develop fully

2) Attention (to give and receive it) — a form of nutrition

3) Sense of autonomy and control — having volition to make responsible choices

4) Being emotionally connected to others

5) Feeling part of a wider community

6) Friendship, intimacy — to know that at least one other person accepts us totally for who we are, “warts ‘n’ all”

7) Privacy — opportunity to reflect and consolidate experience

8) Sense of status within social groupings

9) Sense of competence and achievement

10) Having meaning and purpose — which comes from being stretched in what we do and think.

Life is never 100 per cent perfect, but as long as our main essential needs are being met, and our resources are being used well, we do not suffer mental health problems. However, if just one of these needs is unmet, or our resources are being misused, it can affect our mental health and well being.

To see how many of your emotional needs are being met, take the Emotional Needs Audit.

42 responses to “::The 10 Essential Emotional Needs::

  1. Hello, Those make alot of sense.
    There are alot of psychologists and others who are trying to define the ultimate “needs” for humans, but after all they are greatly the same.
    Thank you for sharing those.
    Have a nice day!

  2. Thanks for the comment, you’re right – once everyone agrees on this group of human needs as a basis for understanding people and why they do what they do, you can start to make progress.
    When these emotional needs are met, it is impossible to have mental health problems, however this list is always open to suggestion and criticism!

  3. Hi, Thanks for your reply.
    Everything that has to do with humans is so fascinating isn’t it?
    I just wanted to say that I use the other site called “blogger.com” more often, and was wondering if you had a blog there too?
    Well anyway my “url” there is: http://robins-psychology.blogspot.com/
    Hope we can talk even more, and read each others blogs.
    God bless your soul/ Robin

  4. Hello,

    I was sent a link to here by feartheseeds and found your response to his question regarding sleep to be really interesting and useful.

    The blog is great and has challenged my understanding of my own mental illness.

    But I would like to ask something regarding one of the comments above and I don’t want it to sound like I’m being petty.

    You say that when all these emotional needs are being met it’s impossible to have mental health problems.

    I have Bipolar and even though I would wholeheartedly agree that my illness is much easier to manage when I have all the above needs met there are still problems. At the moment I would say all of the above needs are being met but my illness still affects my overall functioning day to day.

    Just to clarify do you mean in someone who has no underlying mental health problems or that all mental health problems can be the result of these needs being unmet?

    I tried to take your test but the link doesn’t seem to be working…is there anywhere else I can view it?

    -thanks in advance and best wishes

  5. Thanks for your kind comments and the query (which isn’t petty at all, in fact it’s fundamental!)

    The genetic support for Bipolar being ‘underlying’ is so strong now that we cannot say that having all emotional needs met can lead to having no problems, as you are experiencing yourself. However, emotional needs being met can only help to make it more bearable – as it appears you are also experiencing yourself!

    By ‘mental health problems’ we mean [unipolar] depression, anxiety, addiction, anger etc – as opposed to mental ‘disorders’ like Bipolar or Asperger’s (which can also be alleviated somewhat by appropriate meeting of emotional needs). Terminology is always a minefield isn’t it?

    Thanks for pointing out this, as we hadn’t made that distinction clear enough.

    I’ve also changed that link which was for some reason wrong! Shoddy!! It should work now

  6. Robin – Thanks! We don’t have a blogger site I’m afraid but I will certainly have a look at your blog!

    Best wishes

  7. Thanks for the explantion. That helps to clear up any confusion. Terminology can be confusing.

    And I totally agree I think the Human Givens approach, though perhaps not a cure for things like Bipolar can be hugely beneficial.

  8. Hey…. did you ever have someone named “sisiphus ” post on your site?

  9. Yes I did but the last time I checked her blog she had vanished :s

  10. Nice list, just a comment….

    I also kind of feel that the need:
    6) Friendship, intimacy — to know that at least one other person accepts us totally for who we are, “warts ‘n’ all”

    should have “…and you are confident you can readily contact that person whenever you need for a good chat” appended to it ;)

    e.g. I just did your survey, and I gave this one less than 7 because although I would say there are several people in my life in that category, I live a fair way away from all of them. Several of them are either hard to contact, or else I know they have enough life troubles of their own right now (eg very young kids, starting a small business ) that I don’t feel I can call them at the drop of a hat.

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  13. Hi, it was a coincidence I arrived to your website, and althought I have not yet been able to read it most, I would like to congratulate for the approach and teachings in your statementes.
    There is something that for my understanding you have forgoten, you are not talking about an essential issue in any kind of health, weather physical or mental that is our diet.
    Still nowdays people does not realize the importance of the nutrients in our body, and the head can not be cut from the rest of the body.
    The nutrients and the organism capacity of assimilate properly our needs from our liquid and solid intake are a key most of the time ignore.
    Alergies and physical illness can make impossible to recover and in most of the mental cases, the main problem has been that the persons have not been screen properly to elimininate physical factors altering human brain’s state, and once they are put under psyquiatric drugs is really dificult to identify the original source of the illness due to the side effects and withdrawals of the medication that mimics mental illness. It is very sad how so many people is still in that circumstances because the rest of the society is closing their eyes. I would like to think that places like yours can help to stop some of the unhuman suffering that people under psychotic drugs are forced to live in, for reasons that have nothing to do with caring for humans, far away, are more near economical gains.
    You seem intelligent and people with some degree of humanisn still in you please help them.
    Thank you

  14. Thank you very much for this article. It was exactly what i was looking for. Moreover focusing on different aspects like security, privacy, status helped me to reflect on my own psychological needs too. THANK YOU VERY MUCH

  15. hi, i’m going through realising i have boarder line personality disorder. All the listed emotionall needs were not met. I had to look up what alot of emotional needs are to answer the question from the self help book i’m doing. I’m doing it because i was not nurtured by my monther and in turn i’m finding it impossible to bring up my eight year old son on my own with these issues. He is not a happy boy, i use inappropriate language, i’m inconsistent, unstable moods that can last for hours, i don’t feel real. I asked for help this morning for the my son and I. I’m very scared, just like being a child, and a child bringing up a child is no good. He’s such a lovely little boy but has been tanted by my problems which only started to reveal itself when i have birth. I suppose i’m posting on here because i want to stop hiding. I’m ready to be honest to myself and my son. I want change. Does anyone know of any groups/chat rooms for bpd parents i could join? Many thanx.

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  20. Just in case you’re interested, schema therapy is a good modality for working with these unmet emotional needs from childhood. The outcome is being better able to self-soothe and better well being.

  21. I think it’s interesting that play is not considered a basic emotional need. Can you speak to that, please?

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  37. I don’t have 7 out of the 10 things listed. No wonder I feel empty and emotionless. Thank you for sharing as this helps me understand. I am trying to help myself fill this emptiness I feel even while having a family, a job, a roof over my head, etc. I want to be as I once was. Excited and happy!

  38. Unfortunately, when I’m with my immediate family, none of these needs are met.

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