The Problem With Human Nature:
Reflections on Communicative Psychoanalysis - A Parable©
By V. A. Bonac
(Copyright © 1966 V. A. Bonac) 

Reprinted from the International Journal of Communicative Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, Vol.11, Nos.1-2

One summer evening, in July of 1996, the following tale occurred to me:
Once upon a time, there lived two kinds of people. There were those who had problems and those who had problems with human nature.

People with problems suffered. They suffered in their struggles with ill health, with droughts, with floods and with other people. To comfort each other, after work the People with problems held hands: they sang, they danced and they told each other tales. A few of the People with problems could not be consoled by holding hands. Alone, they went to live on small islands. There, they spent their time making beautiful things. Today, we find the remains of their lonely strivings in the great museums of the world, sorted out according to time and place.

Alongside the many People with many problems, there lived also a small number of Enlightened individuals. There was something altogether different about them - different that is, from the People who had many problems. These individuals were known by their names. They lived in different cities, at different times and spoke different tongues. They came to be called, collectively, "Thinkers". The distinct feature of Thinkers was that they had no problems - except one: they had trouble with Human Nature.

This is how it all began:

Thinkers decided to think about their problem with Human Nature in a systematic and rigorous manner. They ended up devoting their lives to the exhaustive study of Human Nature. It was generally assumed, among the People with problems, that the Thinkers, having only one problem, had an easier time than the rest of the People, who had many problems. Naturally, the People with problems spent much of their time struggling with their problems. Even when they happened to have some free time, the People with problems felt too exhausted to do much of anything. Yet, for some obscure and evasive reason, evasive to the thinkers that is, the People did not desire to join the Thinkers. This greatly puzzled the Thinkers.

Now, the Thinkers were remarkably busy. All the hours in their days were filled with the hard work of thinking. The Thinkers were thoroughly absorbed by thinking. Even at night, during sleep, their work would not stop: while seemingly doing nothing, the Thinkers thought strange thoughts. In the morning, they called these night-thoughts, dreams. Although the Thinkers had difficulty with catching and holding their dream-thoughts, what they did get to hold on to, was a distinctly clear sensation of having been disconnected.

At first, the Thinkers did not pay much attention to their sensations. Also, they took little notice of what the People did and felt. The Thinkers continued to spend their lives in intense and profound study.

Time passed. One day, the Thinkers came to feel lonely. In secret, they began to resent the fact that the People would not want to join them. It bothered them that the People did not care much for the very thing that occupied every moment of the Thinkers' lives. So, each in their own silent way, the Thinkers began to think about what was to be done.

They thought that things might improve if the People were made to understand that it was in fact not very difficult to do what the Thinkers were doing, namely, thinking. If the People were made to see, thought the Thinkers, that thinking was a superiour, albeit a difficult, way of living, then the People would want to come to the Thinkers. It may be, thought the Thinkers, that The People did not want to join them in their serious quest because the very process of thinking was too hard for them. This conclusion, the Thinkers liked. So, satisfied with their predictable conclusion, the Thinkers wrote their thoughts on scrolls and left the scrolls in the market squares of all the cities of the land.

Surprisingly, for the Thinkers, the People did take the time to read the scrolls. Although the People's show of good will did bring some consolation to the Thinkers, they became alarmed when the People did not show any serious concern with the implication of what they had read.

As before, when the People were not struggling with the problems, the People spent their free time dancing, singing and telling tales to one another. This situation disturbed the Thinkers with increasing force. They always felt bewildered when events did not follow their predictions and when there was no apparent order to the situation. While the People continued to do what they had always done, the Thinkers grew more and more perplexed. If only they could ask the right question, the Thinkers thought, then they would be able to find its logical answer. The Thinkers closed their the doors of their chambers, lighted their candles and thought for three days and three nights.

Nothing. One morning, later in the season, it suddenly occurred to the Thinkers that they might have stumbled upon a great Mystery. Only Mysteries would mystify great Thinkers. The Thinkers, again, grew silent and withdrew into their chambers.

One day, there was a fierce storm with thunder and lightening. The People put on their galoshes, opened their umbrellas, worried about their crops and feared an epidemic of influenza. In their chambers, the Thinkers rejoiced. A great Mystery was awaiting to be revealed.

And it was: In the early morning of the seventh day, the Thinkers suddenly understood that they had not been looking at their problem from the right angle. What was needed was a radical change in perspective. The Thinkers felt revitalized by the following insight: The question was not the problem. It was the Problem that was the Question!

And the Question was this: What is Human Nature?

When the truth about Human Nature is found, thought the Thinkers, all else will fall into its predetermined place. The Problem will find its solution. Veritas omnia vincit! The Thinkers rolled up their sleeves, took out their quills and started to write. They wrote for three months. Spring followed winter.

While the People were busy with plowing and sowing their fields, the Thinkers wrote. At the end of the third month of the third season, there was an Announcement: The Thinkers had solved the Problem. The explanation went like this: The Thinkers did not have problems with the People, they had problems with Human Nature. Therefore, it stands to reason, that successful thinking about human nature will bring to an end all that heretofore remained ambiguous, elusive, vague, uncertain, unreliable and mysterious.

The Thinkers knew precisely what was to be done. They took out their quills and their scrolls and they set to work again. To conduct a rigorous study was their specialty. To conduct a study of Human Nature was a challenge worthy of their effort. Their worries were over. To the Thinkers, Concepts, unlike the People, were investigative objects par excellence.

So, the Thinkers thought. And they wrote. In the end, they produced a Master Scroll. The verdict was out: there exists a fundamental fault, a basic blunder, a fundamental flaw, an inherent error, an inborn defect, within Human Nature. Something, somewhere in the long process of evolution oh humankind, went very wrong. Human Nature just isn't what it could have been!

No wonder, the Thinkers exclaimed, that they thought they had problems with the People when there was, in actuality, this pervasive, insidious, primary and fundamental problem with Human Nature. This is how the Thinkers found the Solution to the Problem.

In the evenings, after work, the People sat down by the fire and took notice of the Thinkers' Great Solution to the Great Mystery contained in the Master Scroll. The next morning, the People went to work and their lives went on as before. At that moment in time, the People were worried about the air they breathed and the water they drank, while they continued with their worries about their children, their neighbors and about their crops. In short, the People worried about their Problems.

There was something, however, that made a mark in the lives of the People. Their lives were never quite the same as before. The appearance of the Master Scroll made the people stop and ponder. Such was the power of the Master Scroll. People thought: If the Great Mystery is now resolved, if Human Nature is known and defined, if the Solution to the Problem has been found, then...... what is there left to think about? With little time to spare (naturally, having so many problems) the People found themselves burdened with yet another problem: With all the Mysteries solved, what will the Thinkers do ?

The following night, the People with problems did not sleep very well.