Two things have been happening in my life over the last few weeks that have prompted me to think about what Eric Berne wrote about our needs and drives in terms of Hungers. I’ve been tweeting on Twitter, connecting with lots of great new people and unfortunately one of my lovely dogs has been quite seriously ill, so I have been unable to get out and about as much and doing a fair bit of dog nursing.

You may be wondering how this is all connected.  Well, Berne described four hungers:

  • Stimulus-hunger : as the need for mental and physical stimulation, variety, challenge and touch.
  • Structure-hunger: the need to structure time and space.
  • Recognition-hunger: as the need for acknowledgement from others of our existence.
  • Position Hunger: The need for an overall framework for interpreting self, others and reality.

What he also said was that if each of these hungers are not satisfied we will often try to make do by substituting one of the others.


I’ve been finding Twitter a great source of acknowledgement from others – strokes if you will (see blog entry Appraisal Blues for explanation of strokes). And this has been really helpful for me whilst I have been unable to get out and about as much so I think have been substituting my stimulus hunger needs with more recognition. And this has helped me deal with short term changes in my life.

Different Needs

What motivates each of us is different of course, the mix of hungers for each person varies greatly.  So for example,  I am self employed because my need for stimulus in doing the work I have chosen is greater than my need for structure  – to be employed doing it.  Some people love acting spontaneously – stimulus hunger, others prefer to plan – structure.  What I think it can be useful to have an awareness of these needs and drives in ourselves and consider how we meet them.  Make adjustments if we need to and be aware of how the balance between hungers may change if something happens in our lives to impact on how we get these needs met.

What motivates you? How are you meeting your needs for structure, stimulus, position and recognition?



Published by Lin Cheung

I am an artist, coach and teacher. I love working with people to help them be more creative.

One thought on “Motivation

  1. Those are interesting categories. To me the most poignant is the hunger for recognition. For years I met this hunger by being a professor, but I think there was a deeper hunger to be seen, underlying the surface one.Once I discovered that I had been abused as a child, the process of recovering the memories and then healing brought me in touch with so much more satisfaction in my interactions with others.

    I have creative outlets (painting, writing, & dance) to satisfy my stimulus hungers. Structure vs freedom is a constant dance in my life. And I think my work in therapy, healing from the abuse, gave me a different sense of my position in the world.

    Thanks for this post

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