From the Right



The Human Need To Feel Important -- and How Government Squelches It

Dennis Prager on

If one were to draw up a list of human needs, food and shelter would be at the top.

With great respect to Freudians, sex would not be No. 2.

The need for meaning would be second only to the need for food.

That meaning is more important to happiness than sex is easily shown. A great many people go long periods without sex, and while many of them miss it, if they have meaning in their lives, they can lead quite happy and fulfilling lives. On the other hand, few people who have regular sex but lack meaning are happy or fulfilled.

Third on the list of human needs is the need to feel important. This need is much less often cited than the need for food, sex and meaning. But it is so important that a case could be made that it is tied for No. 2 with the need for meaning.

The infamous "midlife crisis" is a crisis of importance: "I thought I would be much more important at this stage in life than I am." That mostly afflicts men -- just as feeling less important after one's children have left home afflicts mothers more than fathers.


Among the many psycho-social crises afflicting Americans is a crisis of importance. Fewer Americans feel important than did Americans in the past.

Why? What has happened?

What has happened is a steep decline in the number of institutions that gave people a feeling of importance.

Given that work is generally regarded as one of the most ubiquitous providers of purpose, and that, prior to the COVID-19 lockdown, more Americans were working than ever before, one would think that more Americans than ever before felt important.


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