It was assumed that the deeper urges in man could be seen most clearly in the insane, the neurotic, the alcoholic, the animal, the feebleminded, the child. This is a mistake. They may perhaps be seen best in the healthiest, most evolved and matured individuals; and in such people, it can be seen that these deepest urges and needs can be “high” as well as “low”, e.g. a need for truth, a need for beauty.
(The Farther Reaches of Human Nature p381)
This suggests that successful people (great political leaders, philosophers, artists, mathematicians, athletes, etc) didn’t succeed through suppressing their human instinct, but rather they have fulfilled their instinct to the fullest.
Take a quick look through the 12 signs: Just as there is an instinct to fight for what we want (Aries), there is an instinct for beauty and stability (Taurus); instinct to satisfy curiosity and communicate (Gemini); instinct to nurture (Cancer); instinct to be creative and important (Leo); instinct to analyze knowledge (Virgo); instinct for harmony (Libra); instinct for control and regeneration (Scorpio); instinct for truth (Sagittarius); instinct for order (Capricorn); instinct to innovate, to help others (Aquarius); and instinct to be connected with the universe, to experience altered state of consciousness (Pisces).
Freud thought civilization existed to suppress people’s destructive instincts – I think it’s better to say that civilization exists to suppress most other instincts too, thereby making everyone “normal.” Paradoxically, it is the lucky few people brave enough to be true to some of their instincts that often get to be successful and leave a legacy that shapes the society.
Normalcy often implies suppression and herd mentality; great scientists have to be “abnormally curious” in order to search for new knowledge. Artists have to be obsessively passionate about forms, colors, and beauty. Great leaders, whether in business or politics, have to be excessively firm in their beliefs and vision.
Maybe it’s time we awaken our instincts by becoming aware of them, paying attention to them, and acting to honor them.