This chapter analyzes research on the development of the self in relation to others and shows that the need for attachment and belonging is manifest before birth. In fact, studies have found that the fetus is sensitive to maternal stimulation. Through experience and memory, the fetus gets “familiar” with their mother’s voice. According to researchers, the findings lend support to the “epigenetic” model of the self, which presumes an interaction between fetal neural development and social experiences. In other words, pregnancy sets the stage for the mother–child attachment and emotional regulation that lie at the base of people’s social nature. Moreover, this neurobiological basis of attachment and the need to belong ensures people’s survival. While several psychologists contributed to the development of attachment theory and belongingness needs, and explored their implications and practical applications for psychotherapy and client interaction, perhaps the most significant figure in furthering this work was the American psychologist Abraham Maslow. Maslow theorized that the “need to belong” was one of five human needs in a hierarchy of inborn needs, along with physiological needs, safety, self-esteem, and self-actualization.
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