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10 Characteristics of Harmonic People

shutterstock_225392116Let’s say a person goes through an arduous therapy experience over a period of years and works through all of his or her issues. If that person became fully “therapised,” what would that look like? Over the years, not only psychologists but also philosophers have speculated on the nature of a fully “healthy” or “normal” person.

Building on these writings, I have come up with some attributes of what might be considered fully therapised individuals. I call such people—theoretical people—“harmonic” because they are in harmony with themselves and the world and are able to function without self-consciousness and therefore in a fairly effortless manner.

Harmonic people are:

Self-contained. Their contentment does not depend on the external world. They don’t need anything from the external world to feel all right about themselves. They don’t need people to respect them or love them. They don’t need to be rich. They don’t need to be famous. They don’t need to get revenge against those who have done them wrong. They don’t need acceptance from others in order to accept themselves. They don’t need people to agree with them about politics or religion. Their well-being comes from mastery of themselves, not power over others.

Spontaneous. They are not self-conscious, fearful, or driven. Their general state is relaxation, which enables them not only to play well but also to work well. Being spontaneous also enables them to adapt to the various circumstances of living. If a hurricane knocks down their house, they build it up again without missing a step. It also allows them to have a deeper experience of sex and of creative pursuits.

Realistic. They look at themselves and others in an objective way. They neither overestimate nor underestimate themselves or others. They are in touch with their feelings. When they are angry, they know all about it. If they are in conflict with another person, they don’t seek to blame it on the other person; rather, they look within themselves to analyze their contribution to the matter. They do what can be done and don’t try to do what can’t be done.

Open-minded. They see both sides of a dispute, not just their side. They respect people, no matter what their religion, politics, or way of life is. They don’t have strong, emotional opinions about things which prevent them from considering new ideas. They are not overly identified with one political or religious view over another. Therefore, they are not prejudiced. Being open-minded, they are able to look at new ways of solving problems rather than stubbornly trying the old ways over and over. Being open-minded, they never follow any herd or engage in groupthink.

Self-Respectful. There is a difference between self-respect and narcissism. Harmonic people are glad about their accomplishments, but do not feel superior because of them or develop a “holier than thou” attitude. The way they see it, they are who they are as a matter of luck (good genes, good parenting, etc.) and hence there is nothing to feel proud or superior about. People with narcissistic tendencies often feel proud of their accomplishments, their opinions, their religion, their politics, their status, and lord it over others. “I’m a superior person and you’re lucky if I smile at you!” they seem to say. Harmonic people are respectful of themselves and others.

Non-judgmental. Harmonic people don’t judge other people. Because they feel secure, they don’t have a need to judge others and find fault with them in order to make themselves superior. “We are all in this thing together,” they say to themselves, “And we’re all trying to find our place.” Judgments can only lead to strife.

Honest. People who have not been fully therapised are sometimes unable to be honest with themselves and others. They have a thousand reasons for not being honest, all of them based on the fact they can’t accept their real selves and believe others will not be able to accept them, either. They assume if they are honest they will be vulnerable and people will judge them. Harmonic people have accepted themselves and are thus able to be honest and to engage in truly honest sharing in a relationship.

Creative. Because they don’t follow any ideological herd, they are able to think for themselves. Because of this, they are able to think “outside the box,” and come up with creative ideas. They are initiators who tackle problems in a new way and come up with new solutions.

Insightful. They are able to look deeply into the fabric of life, with its many shapes and patterns. Hence, they don’t make quick judgments about things, but instead hold off on their judgments until they completely understand all aspects of the situation. When considering moral questions, they likewise consider all variables before making a judgment.

Non-defensive. Harmonic people can laugh at themselves because they don’t take themselves too seriously. They accept themselves, including their faults, and therefore insults do not wound them. They are able to be in the world as happy guests rather than as vying owners.

I don’t know if anybody has achieved this level of functioning, and I’m not sure how much psychotherapy can help people to get there. I suggest it more as a goal of therapy, a standard to aspire to. Also, I hope it may spark a discussion. Readers may agree with all or some of these qualities of a fully formed personality or offer different ones, and I think any such discussion is useful.

On-target image available from Shutterstock.

10 Characteristics of Harmonic People

Gerald Schoenewolf, Ph.D.

Gerald Schoenewolf, Ph.D. is a licensed psychoanalyst in New York and has been practicing for over 37 years. He works with adults, couples, families, adolescents, and children. He has graduated from three psychotherapy institutes and received a Certificate in Psychoanalysis from the Washington Square Institute in 1981. He has been an Adjunct Assistant Professor of psychology at the Borough of Manhattan Community College since 2002 and has authored thirteen books on psychotherapy and psychoanalysis as well as four novels and a book of poems and drawings. More recently he wrote 20 screenplays (winning four first-place awards at festivals) and produced and directed two feature films.

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APA Reference
Schoenewolf, G. (2014). 10 Characteristics of Harmonic People. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 18, 2019, from


Last updated: 3 Nov 2014
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