Need recognition occurs when an individual senses a difference between what he or she perceives to be the ideal versus the actual state of affairs.
I bolded the noun phrase "what her or she perceives to be the ideal".
I understand what will serve as the object of perceives ,
and I am guessing that the infinitive to be the ideal is a object complement instead of a purpose adjunct.
So in the example sentence , since what is understood to be between "perceives" and "the infinitive clause(to be the ideal)" ,to be the ideal will be the complement of what.
Which means that the noun phrase can be interpreted as :
He or she perceives what, and what is the ideal .
Is my understanding above correct?