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2 needs underlie our emotional wellbieng: 1 Culture

Sullivan highlights 2 key concerns which he draws on in order to better understanding emotional wellbeing.  The first of these is culture.

Sullivan is keen to point out that human beings are born into an established culture.  The cultures into which we are born have been developed over hundreds of years.  As we grow up, our parents, teachers and those around us expect us, and teach us to participate in the culture into which we are born.  This culture includes endless customs, practices, values, expectations and beliefs.  As we grow, the ways in which the culture in which we are brought up influences us shapes our personality and behaviour. 

Crucially, for Sullivan, we are born with individual gifts genetic dispositions, but the way that culture and people influence us and mould us alters the person that we become and the way this process occurs determines the person we become. 

For Sullivan, all that we are taught about human customs and how we are expected to behave pertains to our personal sense of security.  If we think about situation in which we feel, good, important or worthy, Sullivan suggests that these will be situations relating to how well we fulfilled expectations and values that have been taught to us and which we are expected to fulfil in our society and culture.  In contrast, Sullivan suggests that if we think of situations in which we have felt unworthy, ashamed or invaluable, these will typically be situations in which we did not fulfil expectations or uphold the values that have been taught to us as being expected in our society and culture.  Sullivan sees the term insecurity as being the best descriptive term for representing how we feelings surrounding when we feel unvalued and people do not respect us. 

In contrast to our attempts to fulfil societal expectations and values, personal desires may not have all been instilled in us as a result of our learning of cultural expectations.  For example, we desire to eat, but this desire existed before we were taught expected social customs.  Sullivan believes that the conflicts that exist between our personal desires and those that are expected of us by society and culture, are the most important subject in relation to emotional health.