JD Vance did not always enjoy the level of academic and commercial success that he is recognized for today. Growing up in the industrial rust belt town of Middletown, Ohio and Appalachian Jackson, Kentucky, JD was accustomed to a much different life. Like many of his neighbors in these white working class towns, his upbringing was tumultuous and characterized by financial troubles, unstable home environments, and abuse. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs outlines human motivation and differentiates between deficiency and growth needs (Atkins, 2011). According to his theory, all individuals must fulfill their deficiency needs, including physiological, safety, and social needs, before we can develop self-esteem and become self-actualized. JD, like so many other impoverished children, struggled to fulfill his deficiency needs. He seemed unlikely to finish high school and certain to fall victim to the cycle of poverty, which preyed on generations of his family. But, against all odds, JD managed to overcome his disadvantage. He describes his journey and those who helped him along the way in his best-selling book, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis.
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