There are six biological and psychological needs that must be fulfilled for a person to be in balance, feel alive, feel love fully, feel happiness, and be productive. Let's look at these six major emotional needs that must be fulfilled in order to prevent feeling emotionally hungry.

Just like you need food and water to survive physically and be healthy, you need to fulfill the Six Psychological Hungers (termed by Eric Berne) in order to feel emotionally satisfied and healthy. These are Contact, Recognition, Incident, Stimulus, Structure, and Sex/Passion. To remember these their initials are:

CRISSS and you may be in a crisis if they are not fulfilled in balance. These Hungers are your most important biological and psychological needs. Physical and mental health depends on having these needs met. Your Central Nervous System must have these satisfied to "survive" emotionally or you may fade or whither away, feel depressed, feel "gloom and doom", and may develop a physical illness and could even die. Also, you may feel desperate, inadequate, have low self-esteem, and generally feel not OK. It is a feeling of emotionally starving!

Many of us attempt to fulfill our needs outside ourselves, i.e. money, work, relationships, over-eating, over-spending, over-drinking, or taking care of others. These external methods of seeking satisfaction will not have lasting effects. Later, I will share with you how you can meet these needs in healthy ways.

All of these Hungers are inter-connected, so when you are low on one or two, the rest are affected, also. You may exclude one and try to replace fulfilling that one with more emphasis on fulfilling one or two of the others which will only add to the problem. To do this is at your emotional expense because it is literally starving your Inner Child. It would be like trying to fill up on potato chips and a soft drink when you are physically starving instead of having a balanced, nurturing meal. It is vital that all six be fulfilled equally to feel aliveness.

I give you full permission to take care of your own needs instead of spending a lot of time and energy taking care of the needs of others. Keeping your needs in some kind of balance underlies a vital aspect of your mental health. When one need is not being met, there is a tendency to focus too much energy to get that need met, instead of having them all in balance. The key here is balance and being responsible for one's self. Often what a person did not get enough of as a child; i.e., nurturing, attention, protection, security, support, acknowledgment, he/she will seek out from others and try to make others responsible for fulfilling those needs. This is one of the reasons relationships have a difficult time!! These must all be in balance or you will feel dissatisfied and unhappy. When these are fulfilled in balance, you will feel complete, warm, content, healthy and satisfied! This is the way for effective self-nurturing and feeling self-love! Self-love is the most important element for emotional well-being.

So let's go about the business of teaching you what each need is about and how to fulfill it in a very satisfying way!!


1. Contact

This is the need for physical touch by other people. Contact can be received by hugs, hand-holding, pats, massage, or any other way you get physically touched.

2. Recognition

This is the need to be noticed, receive attention and acknowledgment which can only be supplied by another human being. It is a need for a sense of belonging and a feeling that other people know you are alive. This is why milk is not enough for infants; they also need the sound, smell, warmth and touch of mothering or else they whither away. Just as grownups do if there is no one to say hello to them. This can be received by verbal strokes such as a simple nod, someone saying your name, hello, or giving you compliments or praise. By the way it is OK to ask for recognition.

3. Incident

This is the need for anything unusual, challenging, exciting, novel, or different. It is doing something out of the ordinary. When you are bored or feel life is dull, than you are experiencing a lack of incident in your life. It is as important to plan incident into your life rather than just have it happen. There is negative unplanned incident, i.e. losing your car keys, getting into an argument with a friend, stubbing your toe, or bouncing a check. Examples of positive incident are vacations, parties, eating with different hand, sleeping on a different side of the bed, meeting new people, amusement parks, unusual places, and a flashy car.

4. Stimulus

This is a need for sensation, arousal and input into five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. Far from avoiding stimulating situations, as some people have claimed, most human beings seek them out. The need for sensation is the reason why roller coasters make money and why prisoners will do almost anything to avoid solitary confinement.

Other examples of fulfilling this need are: bright colors, music, smells in a bakery, interior decorating, art gallery, a stimulated mind by creating new ideas, and smelling flowers.

5. Structure (time)-

This is the need for time structure or what one does with his/her time from birth to death in order to avoid the pain of boredom. It is the need for security and to be in charge of one's life. Sometimes people have too much time structure and sometimes not enough. It is important to remember that as much as you plan your work time, it is as important to plan your play time. This need is fulfilled by having goals, keeping a calendar, attending classes, a satisfying career and/or having one's own business.

6. Sex/Passion

This is the need to be aroused and reach a peak. This hunger can be met in may ways. Enthusiasm about life, watching or participating in sports, dancing, telling sexy stories or jokes, having intimacy with other people, liking one's own femininity or masculinity, flirting, or body painting.

Question: What activities in life fulfill all six of these Hungers at the same time?

Answer: Dancing and Sex

Now, look and see where you are out of balance or which ones of the Hungers you are low on and using your creativity, find ways to fulfill those needs. Until next time go for it and enjoy!!!

Author's Bio: 

Andrea Lambert, MFCC, a licensed counselor is an expert in working with life and relationship issues. She has been a professional in private practice in the Sacramento area for over 20 years. She leads a Self-Awareness Weekend which is an opportunity to heal and enhance enjoyment of life by releasing pent-up feelings and changing self-limiting beliefs. Call the Self-Awareness Institute at (916) 966-0411 for more information and dates.