Matt Perryman

Italian psychologist says, “Grow up!”

By Matt Perryman

Imagine a person from ancient Greece or Rome dropped into today’s world. With all our shiny lights and driverless cars and Apple Stores, they might believe us a civilization of magicians or even gods.

But if this person should be a no-nonsense type, one not easily dazzled by the con-artistry of magic, a Plato or Aristotle or Cicero, he might have a different response:


He would perceive that this modern “magician,” capable of descending to the bottom of the ocean and projecting himself to the moon, is largely ignorant of what is going on in the depths of his unconscious and is unable to reach up to the luminous superconscious levels, and to become aware of his true Self. This supposed demigod, controlling great electrical forces with a movement of the finger and flooding the air with sound and pictures for the entertainment of millions, would be seen to be incapable of dealing with his own emotions, impulses, and desires.


So wrote psychologist Roberto Assagioli in 1972.

Reading 19th and 20th century philosopher-psychologists and social scientists really drives home just how long our civilization has raced into the future, throttle to the floor, without the first idea of what’s up the road.

Some say the road leads off to infinite abundance out in space somewhere. Others say it’s the brick wall of Zombie Apocalypse. The more likely answer is in between. I could see life in 2500 AD having a lot more in common with 1800 than the other two choices.

It isn’t that we can’t do great things, or shouldn’t try to do them. Lord help you if you think that’s my message.

The more we wrap ourselves in convenience, automate the hard work of living, and retreat into the pursuit of comfort (and this weird Safety First! fetish), the less individuals develop on the inside.

By all measures we may be richer, longer-living, and more prosperou, but it’s like an Instant-gram filter on rotten fruit. The surface appearance is vital and healthy while the inside is rotting.

You can’t measure what can’t be measured.

Growth and maturity are not external, organic processes. These involve an inner psychic dimension which our culture doesn’t even recognize, much less encourage and nurture.

We speed off into a life of material pleasures and conveniences while the inner self rots away, never developing any ability for dealing with emotions, impulses, and desires.

Boy does that show. Sometimes it seems like mental illness, emotional meltdowns, and toddler-like tantrums are the default new normal for adult behavior.

In the coming decades, people who can hold their attention longer than 60 seconds, think and act calmly, and prioritize long-term goals over short-term satisfactions are going to come out the winners.

These aren’t traits and talents that special people are born with. They’re learned, and anything that is learned can be practiced.

Matt Perryman

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