What are the Human Givens?
We are all born with innate knowledge programmed into our genes. Throughout life we experience this knowledge as feelings of physical and emotional needs. These feelings evolved over millions of years and, whatever our cultural background, are our common biological inheritance. They are the driving force that motivates us to become fully human and succeed in whatever environment we find ourselves in. It is because they are incorporated into our biology at conception that we call them 'Human Givens'.
Physical needs: As animals we are born into a material world where we need to air to breathe, water, nutritious food and sufficient sleep. These are our primary physical needs and wiithout them we would quickly die. In addition we also need the freedom to stimulate our senses and exercise our muscles. We instinctively look for secure shelter where we can grow and reproduce ourselves and bring up our young. These physical needs are intimately bound up with our emotional needs - the main focus of the Human Givens psychology.
Emotional needs: Emotions create distinctive psycho-biological states in us and drive us to take action. The emotional needs that Nature has programmed into us are there to connect us to our external world, and to survive it. Our expression of that distress, in whatever form it takes, impacts on us and those people around us. If those needs are met appropriately and in balance, and the innate resources we possess have not been damaged or are being misused, it is not possible to be mentally ill. To get our physical and emotional needs met, Nature has gifted us our very own 'guidance system' - this together with our needs, make for what we call 'The Human Givens'.
Attention - The need for attention (to give and receive it)
The need for autonomy and control
Feeling part of a wider community
Privacy – the ability to reflect and consolidate experience
Sense of status within social groups
Sense of competence and achievement
Meaning & purpose – from being stretched in what we do and think
Memory and the ability to forget
The ability to problem solve
Understanding through metaphor
A rational as well as an emotional brain