Taming the Untamed Psyche: The Path to World Peace


“Man, like the other animals, is originally simply the puppet of instinct, just as the infant is. Unless he is moved by instinct, he remains passive, even asleep. When instinct is aroused he reacts precipitately, with a characteristic all-or-none type of reaction.  He is aware, it is true, of what he does and of what happens around him. But he has no self-awareness:  psychic images flit past in his consciousness, leaving little or no trace, no residue as it were, much as a moving picture flits over the screen.  As long as the picture is being thrown upon the screen, it dominates the space;  when the light goes out the picture disappears from the screen and leaves no trace upon it.  Such is man’s consciousness before the ego develops.” ~M. Esther Harding, Psychic Energy, p. 209.

Dr. M. Esther Harding was one of Dr. Jung’s most accomplished and articulate followers. Trained at the London School of Medicine for Women and the University of London, she worked with him before beginning her analytical practice in 1923 New York. Her classic book, Psychic Energy:  Its Source and Its Transformation, is still an influential source for students of Jungian Psychology. Written during, and inspired by World War II, its purpose was to explore “what savage impulses, what ruthless monsters of the deep” lie beneath the cultured mask of consciousness, awaiting “a chance to seize the mastery and despoil the world!” ~Harding, p. ix.

As she explained,

“Until the first appearance of the works of Dr. C.G. Jung, the unconscious was regarded as merely the repository of forgotten or repressed experiences.  In this there could be no answer to the problem of a world in the grip of a barbaric regression. But Dr. Jung discovered and opened to all explorers another aspect of the unconscious….and found there the sources of psychological life that produce not only atavistic [ancestral] forms but also the potentialities for new development.” (p. ix,x).

For three years, beginning in 1913, Jung experienced an intrusion of the “savage impulses” and “ruthless monsters” of the unconscious that shook him to the core and turned his world upside down. As a practicing psychiatrist, he had a rough idea of what was happening to him, but instead of medicating himself to control his impulses and dull his pain as was the custom, he took a revolutionary approach. He decided to allow the monsters to have their say, to heed the messages they brought him in dreams and fantasies, and to interact with them by way of active imagination. The techniques and theories he developed, along with his transformation and healing, informed his work for the rest of his life and led to this important insight:

“Every civilized human being, whatever his conscious development, is still an archaic man at the deeper levels of his psyche.”~C.G. Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul, p. 128.

This archaic being dwells within each of us in the form of archetypes and animal instincts. The source of all our psychological energy, this being is not inherently evil any more than animals are.  It is simply the natural expression of our psychic energy as focused solely on ourselves during our earliest phase of consciousness.

With family guidance and conditioning from societal institutions—education, religion, business, and government—this energy is gradually brought under a measure of control so that the child begins to create a mask, or persona, of acceptable attitudes and behaviors. If the persona remains unchallenged by inner (psychological) or outer (societal) forces, the child can, and often does, grow up to live out his or her life without evolving into more mature phases of consciousness. As Harding explained,

“A person whose consciousness has not grown beyond the state of the autos can nevertheless undergo a process of development and refinement. The focus of his interest may shift from the more grossly physical to the aesthetic, and he may acquire all the subtleties of cultured appreciation; nevertheless, if his consciousness is oriented to the effects on himself only, he is still in the auto-erotic stage of development….

“Such a person will give the impression of being an egotist, but his egotism is not the result of a conscious determination to have his own way, of a will to power; rather it is due to his complete ignorance and unawareness of any aspect of the situation except such as effect him, or those with whom he is identified. Such a person does not realize that he is dominating his environment or demanding more than his share, and he would be amazed if he were to be made aware of the true nature of his attitude.” p. 208-9.

We all know people like this; we see them on the news every day. Harding explains the global implications:

“Up to the time of the rise of modern materialistic thought…the hypothesis that rational thinking could solve all the problems of the world was very widely accepted. But there remained the irrationality of man himself. If only man would act rationally, perhaps wars and depressions and insanity could be avoided; but unfortunately man does not seem to be any more capable of acting sanely now than he was a thousand years ago.  We are still confronted with man’s own irrational behavior and the untamed forces within his psyche.” Harding, pp. 202-3.

Call me a dreamer, but can you imagine a future when enhancing self-knowledge is a key plank in the platform of a presidential candidate?  When the Department of Defense’s main priority is to help us tame the untamed forces in our psyches so we won’t project them onto others? America has been at the forefront of many of the world’s great advances;  why not lead in promoting self-awareness, humanity’s most valuable and life-enhancing advance of all?

Jean Raffa’s The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon. E-book versions are also at KoboBarnes And Noble and Smashwords. Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications.com. Watch for her new book, The Soul’s Twins, forthcoming from Schiffer Red Feather Mind Body Spirit on Nov. 17, 2020. For more information, subscribe to her newsletter at www.jeanbenedictraffa.com.


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12 Responses

  1. Yes, yes, yes! The ability to befriend one’s shadow as a prerequisite to becoming a person (any person actually) in a position of power should be at the very top of a candidate’s list of abilities. Sadly, it is not … yet! .As I agree, such aptitude in a person could indeed lead them to individual and collective world peace.

    Ah, now there would be a teaching programme that could change the world if only the powers that be would implement such a scheme into our schools … where many young people could start to understand themselves very differently. Hmm, call me a dreamer but I’m not the only one! What a world, what a world that would be!

    I haven’t read much of Dr. Harding, however, I’ll check out the book you’re refer too and will no doubt add it to my ever-growing Chistmas wish list … with yours being at the very top of the tree! Excellent as always Jeanie! Thank you so much for sharing your deep wisdom and rich insights with us. Love and light, Deborah.

  2. Thank you, Deborah. It makes sense, right? Self-awareness has to be taught from the cradle on. At home, in schools and places of worship, at the workplace. It’s already being taught in books, blog posts, webinars, podcasts, and YouTube videos, and that is definitely helping raise consciousness. But it has to enter the mainstream of popular culture–films, television shows, advertising, news, and political discourse–to influence collective thinking enough to make a lasting difference.

    I’ve been hoping I’d see the shift in my lifetime. Maybe the the pandemic and all the shocking events that have occurred since it arrived might be enough to reach the critical mass of awareness necessary to make that happen.

    Dr. Harding’s book requires a deep, thorough, and long engagement, but I’ve found it to be well worth the effort. I’ve come across few minds as clear and articulate as hers.

    Much love, Jeanie

  3. Thank you Jeanie, such lovely pertinent succinct quotations that say so much. When will we realise that we’re hardly a civilised people? How can we be when we see the evidence all around and the inability of mankind to rise above his archaic tendencies? But I sense a sea change – people are questioning everything now that we see what is the reality of ‘civilisation’. Children will be our future, if their parents can rid themselves of the baggage they carry, generations of it, shadows everywhere that need to be befriended and invited in as a guest into one’s home. A stranger.Invite the stranger. Which will require hard and seeking soul work. We are more surely. We have potential towards peace making – I note that yesterday was International Peace Day. Love, Susan

    1. Thank you, Susan. Yes, I posted it with that in mind. Yesterday a few friends and I celebrated Peace Day on Zoom with a reading from an article Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote about peace for her school newspaper.

      At the age of 13 she wrote, “It is vital that peace be assured, for now we have a weapon that can destroy the world. We children of public school age can do much to aid in the promotion of peace. We must try to train ourselves and those about us to live together with one another as good neighbors for this idea is embodied in the great new Charter of the United Nations. It is the only way to secure the world against future wars and maintain an everlasting peace.”

      At that young age she believed we can train ourselves to aid in the promotion of peace. Apparently she acted on her belief. Her every word and action as a Supreme Court Justice indicates that she must have trained long and hard to tame her own primitive instincts and acquire the wisdom, restraint, temperance and fair-mindedness necessary to promote justice and peace in our country. May she rest in peace knowing her efforts were not in vain. Love, Jeanie

  4. Beautiful and so true about self-awareness! I see young people being open and ready to dive deep into healing ancestral and collective shadows, which gives me hope. It also helps for me to remember that love is the energy behind everything and when judgement is removed then it’s possible to see into the deeper truth that all is in service to the emergence of the divine feminine into the consciousness of all. I had an insight once that revealed those whom I perceive as ucs as merely acting to reveal the places in ourselves and the culture that are operating out of alignment with love.

    I once heard that an Indian guru said the potus was a reflection of the collective ucs. I think as we keep doing everything we can to bring more of this information to as many as we can, we will see the collective shift and the leaders change. All over the globe people are uniting and rising. We need dreamers, without them what hope would anyone have for the future?

    Big love and blessings to you Jeanie,

    1. Thank you, Pamela. Your words are very encouraging.

      I especially love your insight that there is so much of value that we can learn from unconscious people in our search to align with love. I’ve thought that in relation to the potus who has inspired me to try to find a place of love in my heart for him. I try because I know that until I can, I’m simply adding more negativity to the current situation. If I do that, I’ve failed in my efforts to learn how to love and will just be another person who thinks fine thoughts and says fine words about love without living it.

      I want to live up to my motto for this blog: “Think psychologically. Live spiritually” so I keep dreaming that one day I will. As you say, “We need dreamers, without them what hope would anyone have for the future?”

      Big love and blessings back at you,


  5. Thank you, Jeanie. I will certainly read this also. It seems to be alined with my current readings and viewing. Do you watch any if of the preliminary videos on the Mindvalley website? I can’t afford to enroll in any of the courses, but the introductory pieces from Ken Wilbur or Jose Silva, ring bells for understanding consciousness.
    I hope you are well and enjoying the slightly cooler weather. Sandra

    1. I haven’t seen the Mindvalley website, Sandra, but I’ll check it out. I do like Ken Wilbur, but don’t know Jose’ Silva. I’ll look into him too. There’s been a lot of wonderful material written about consciousness in the last several years. Our interest in it seems to have been triggered by all the crises the world is experiencing today. I think it’s imperative that we take it very seriously indeed! Loving the weather. 🙂 Such a welcome relief. Jeanie

  6. What an important and timely blog. Thank you, Jeanie. Yes, you’re a dreamer–and so am I, but it’s been a little nightmarish lately. It doesn’t seem the present occupant of the White House has the capacity for self-reflection and now he’s on steroids. Most every day I look at the news and wonder how we wandered so far off a sensible and loving path. But things are shifting, so I have hope again. I think how rough things are now and then remember Nazi Germany and the Khmer Rouge and the horrors that are happening now aren’t so unusual. I just hoped and imagined my country was better than what the Chinese are doing to the Muslims and Tibetans. Apparently now and the shadow will always be with us, it seems, but I hope the pendulum can swing from this constant red alert anxiety.

    I also see hope in the young and even the middle-aged, but I know how discouraged my sons are as their hopes for life crash around them. I hope and pray and dream.

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