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What turns natural human instinct into a distorted cruel beast that is willing to destroy others of the same species is that beast’s master. Program natural instinct to serve human Ego, and it will turn against others who look and think differently. Program–or reprogram–it to serve humanity’s universal Self or Soul, and it will serve and seek to protect the lives of all humans. Not only that, it will propel a person to individuate and drive humanity to evolve.

Trump Triumphant

When the Beast Goes Wild: What a Person Can Do to Regain Influence—Doris Wolz-Cohen:

Who can lead us out of cruelty, when the beast goes wild? Not a leader who sees the world through Ego’s eyes. He will only deceive, distort, bully, entice and mislead human instinct further. The way out of darkness is not by projecting the hero, or the anti-hero, onto an authoritarian leader such as Donald Trump; it would merely energize him; the way out is by gaining insight into the three layers of human character Wilhelm Reich discovered in “the average individual.” Reich wrote in The Mass Psychology of Fascism,

“Extensive and conscientious therapeutic work on the human character has taught me that, in judging human reactions, we have to take into account three different layers of the biopsychic structure. …In the superficial layer, the average individual is restrained, polite, compassionate and conscientious. There would be no social tragedy of the animal, man, if this superficial layer were in immediate contact with his deep natural core [core Self]. His tragedy is that such is not the case. The superficial layer of social cooperation is not in contact with the biological core of the person, but separated from it by a second, intermediary character layer consisting of cruel, sadistic, lascivious, predatory and envious impulses.”

To become fully human and naturally social, Reich recognized that a person has to eliminate “the false, sham-social surface,” penetrate through “this second, perverse and antisocial layer,” and arrive at the “natural core.”

Whether our thinking is liberal or conservative, if the first character layer (root of liberalism) is not in contact with the third character layer (seat of humanity’s universal core Self), it likely means that we were raised in an authoritarian system where we learned to participate in creating the “cruel” second layer of instinctual rebellion and reactionary social ideas (root of fascism). Reich understood that, “A mechanistic authoritarian civilization only reaps, in the form of fascism, … what it has sown. [This is why] there is… not a single individual who does not have the elements of fascistic feeling and thinking in his structure. … One cannot make the Fascist harmless if, does not look for him in oneself; if one does not know the social institutions [or family systems] which hatch him every day.”

We are in the middle of a reactionary movement right now. Reactionary movements appear revolutionary but aren’t, because they are supported and energized by distorted instinct gone wild.

We are in the middle of a reactionary movement right now. Reactionary movements appear revolutionary but aren’t, because they are supported and energized by distorted instinct gone wild. Deplore and keep instinctual impulses down! Unfortunately, that’s what many of us learned. And every time we oppress our instinctual self, we deny its intelligence and feed an antisocial beast.

Today, we are caught in its claws and the only way forward is to change our relationship with it and heal the oppressor/oppressed split.¹ Reich gave us a key: if we make contact with the third layer of character and let our universal Self inform and lead us, we can become genuinely honest and cooperative human beings, ”capable of love and also of rational hatred.”

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We can beat fascism by connecting to our “natural core,” which in turn makes us willing to understand and care about each other. There is a beautiful Zen teaching that invites us to seek “the truth” and represent all sides:

"If you want the truth to stand clear before you, never be for or against.
The struggle between "for" and "against" is the mind's worst disease.”
—Seng-ts'an, c. 700 C.E.

What is “the truth?” From an Ego-centered place, “the truth” is that the oppressor (Ego) and the oppressed (natural instinct) are separate. But if viewed from a Soul-centered place, the oppressor and the oppressed are both aspects of the same universal core Self. When we take sides, we deny this truth, which reinforces the split between the first and the second character layer. Reich felt that this is precisely what keeps us from connecting with our core. When we energize human Ego by either idealizing or fighting authoritarian leaders, we forget that the Soul alone can restore the beast’s intelligence and lead us out of darkness.

During much darker times, Reich urged people “to become absolutely clear that fascism is not the deed of a Hitler or Mussolini [or , as many fear today, Donald Trump] but the expression of the irrational structure of the mass individual.” When we stop energizing an authoritarian leader with idealization or devaluation,² we can then allow instinctive rebellion against “the false, sham-social surface” to alert us, and make arriving at the natural core our goal.

Some people turned away from Hillary Clinton because of her political correctness and lack of authenticity. Some are trying to stop Donald Trump because of his dangerousness. As Charles Eisenstein pointed out in his article The Election: Of Hate, Grief, and a New Story, “Normal is coming unhinged…the wolf in sheep's clothing [got rejected] in favor of a wolf in wolf's clothing." Ultimately, faux liberalism and dangerous animal impulses represent Soul disconnection every human being—in the process of individuation—must confront.

Until we realize that we are both, human as well as animal, we will fall short of creating systems that include both aspects, and where both are working together and helping us to evolve and thrive. It’s time to honor our natural instinct and to allow the Soul to lead us out of darkness. As Reich wrote, “Your basic error is that you deny or ridicule the mind which moves everything, instead of comprehending it.”


Doris Wolz-Cohen
Soulful Relating in Psychotherapy

[1] In authoritarian systems, children are taught to distrust and oppress natural instinct and obey Ego direction. This creates a split between Ego (oppressor) and natural instinct (oppressed). Instead of working together, Ego and instinct learn to oppose each other.

[2] Idealization and devaluation is a splitting defense mechanism employed when a child can’t integrate the fact that authority figures are both good and bad. In early trauma cases, these defenses may persist into adulthood.