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Welcome to The Matrix of Needs

Updated: Aug 15, 2020

Welcome to the website dedicated to understanding The Matrix of Needs. When Abraham Maslow published his article in 1943, he said it was his hope that the ideas he was sharing would be the starting point for a future research which would build a model of human needs that would change and develop over time (Maslow, 1943, p390). It is in that spirit that I have worked for several years to integrate indigenous and western approaches to mental health at a practice and not just a conceptual level. The Maori concept of Te Whare Tapa Wha, from New Zealand, is translated as the 4 cornerstones or sides of a house is one such model, with more information available at https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/populations/maori-health/maori-health-models/maori-health-models-te-whare-tapa-wha. Native American approaches, such as the healing of cultural trauma in the work of Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart also provide alternative models of health and mental health that provide a unique foundation to the idea of wellness. For more information on her approach to healing cultural trauma, please see https://www.ihs.gov/sites/telebehavioral/themes/responsive2017/display_objects/documents/slides/historicaltrauma/htreturnsacredpath0513.pdf


Abraham Maslow spent several weeks with the Blackfoot peoples in Alberta, Canada in 1938, and according to many people he “generously borrowed” concepts from the Blackfoot to inform his developing model of human needs, which was published in 1943. For more information, please see https://barbarabray.net/2019/03/10/maslows-hierarchy-of-needs-and-blackfoot-nation-beliefs/. One idea he did not borrow was the concept that for many Native Americans and indigenous peoples, time was not measured in one lifetime, but rather in the life of the people as both a current group and a historical group with the goal of cultural perpetuity.


As I think about what human needs are, and are not, this difference between self-actualization and the actualization of a group of interrelated people is striking. Instead of spending one lifetime becoming self-actualized, people can spend their lifetime become interdependently actualized and, in this way, support the future peoples who will follow and then transcend their steps. Self-actualization, in Maslow’s lifetime, became less than what Maslow intended later in his life as he talked about transcendence, moving beyond self-actualization and into what I am calling Interdependent Actualization.


In the United States, and many other developed nations, we are borrowing from the future to pay for our lives today. We are focusing on our rights, our privileges, as individuals instead of as a community. We are measuring success in terms of one lifetime instead of as a community, a people, a culture. When the bill comes due, it is our children and our grandchildren who will need to pay our debts with nothing to show for it. Changing the focus from one person to a larger group of people and being part of a larger whole will, I hope, empower us to make choices today that enrich the people who will follow us with the wealth of what Native American and First Nations people call the 7 Sacred Teachings. Love, Respect, Courage, Honesty, Wisdom, Humility and Truth are the gifts I want to pass on to the next generation. This wealth will not fade away, depreciate or disappear with a drop in market value. It will increase the quality of life experienced by myself and all the members of the communities to which I belong, which has been my life’s work for 40 years.


Bob Bowen, Behavioural Consultant

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