Relationships are even more important during COVID 19 crisis

Dr. Lawrence Johnson

In my previous article we examined the eight relationship needs. In this article we are going to examine the human needs cycle.
Starting at infancy, individuals develop patterns of relationships and a core belief system based on how their needs are met both physiologically and psychologically.
When a baby is hungry, the baby becomes aware of the need for food because his or her stomach hurts and then he or she cries. The baby’s cry is to alert his or her parents, communicating “come feed me.” If the parent responds and feeds the child then the need for food is resolved. However, if the parent does not respond, the baby cries louder. This time, the cry is an angry cry, communicating “I don’t like being hungry, I want to be fed.”

If the baby is fed the need for food is resolved. However, if the baby continues to be unfed, the cry becomes a raging cry. A raging baby cannot be fed due to the physiological changes now taking place in his or her body.
Rage stimulates the production and release of adrenaline, which sends a message to the fat cells to release glucose. This process simulates being fed and satisfying the hunger need. However, the supply of glucose is limited, which leads to depletion. This cycle supports the development of isolation and self-centeredness rather than interdependence. This process, if repeated throughout human life, creates a pattern, both physiologically and psychologically.
When considering relationship needs, we may repeat the cycle psychologically. Due to some discomfort, frustration, pain or hurt, we become aware of a relationship need. If an attempt to get the need met is thwarted we move through this cycle to anger.
Many people in our culture confuse anger and rage. Anger is simply stating, “I don’t like____, I want___.” Sometimes these statements are made using an agitated voice. When expressed appropriately anger is very healthy. Many people in our culture see rage as anger out of control. Rage is often expressed through blaming statements, which start with, “You____,” or withdrawal and isolating behaviors. Once an individual within a relationship has reached rage, he or she is intending to meet his or her needs alone – i.e., “I will take care of this by myself, thank you!” At this point the relationship is broken.
If the parent of a child manages this cycle appropriately throughout development, the child develops a healthy core belief system and feels secure within his or her relationships. When the parent pushes the child to rage repeatedly throughout his or her development, the child develops patterns of self-centeredness based on the core belief, “People are not interested in meeting my needs, therefore I will get what I need anyway I can.”
This does not mean the parent must give in to the child’s every need. However, the parent must give some reasonable response to the child.
Given this cycle and the impairment of relationship need satisfaction due to the COVID-19 crisis, it becomes clear how dangerous this crisis can be to relationships. It also stresses the importance of being aware of the needs of our loved ones.

Lawrence J. Johnson, Ph.D., FAPA, is a clinical psychologist with over 38 years of diverse experience in the field.

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