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Book Review – The Laws of Human Nature

The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene is his sixth bestselling book. A little-known fact is that Robert Greene has written six books throughout his life and each book became a bestseller. His first book is The 48 Laws of Power, written in 1998, has become a classic among readers. This most recent book, The Laws of Human Nature, is said to be the combination of all his other books. This makes The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene one of the best books on psychoanalysis.

As with other Robert Greene’s books, he provides examples to further explain a concept by presenting excerpts from historical events. In this book, each chapter denotes one law of human nature. There are 18 laws presented in this book, complete with examples under the context of history. Each chapter ends with a recommendation as to how the reader can handle such ‘humanly’ circumstances in others and themselves. In this review, I will lay out five laws of human nature according to the book.

Master Your Emotional Self

The Law of Irrationality points out that humans form simplified opinions. We are easily swayed by emotions and yet believe we are rational in our decisions. It is important that we recognise our biases (and admit that we have biases) so that we can make decisions based on a bigger picture context. Being irrational also constitutes misreading the present as something that had happened in the past. For example, when we are not aware that an inflaming factor is an event that happened in the past, we might not be aware that we are reacting to a present event according to our emotional state of the past event.

Therefore, being rational warrants us to make a realistic assessment of our surroundings. We must get to know our emotional self and its tendencies so that it doesn’t block our ability to make rational decisions. Finding the balance between our emotional self and our thinking self requires practise and an examination of our own emotions, convictions, and biases. Therefore, increasing our reaction time is recommended!

Are Narcissists Self-Absorbed or Self-Loving Individuals?

One of the core needs of humans is the need for human connection. This is evident by an observation made on inmates sent solitary confinement where they experienced moments of ‘inexistence’. The opportunity for eye-to-eye contact with another person was all they needed to feel whole again. In The Laws of Human Nature, Robert Greene explains that being narcissistic is a form of self-love, as it cements our awareness of our own existence. Using or misusing The Law of Narcissism can make or break a person. That is because narcissism is needed for us to function as a human being that can serve the society.

However, many people mistake narcissism as the act of being self-absorbed. A narcissist that contributes well to society is one who is aware that their effort is based on self-love and deriving satisfaction from the process of their contribution. On the other hand, a narcissist that ‘perform’ contribution to society based on being self-absorbed focuses more on the validation of others as to whether their contribution is ‘worthy’. According to Robert Greene, the world is seeing more of such ‘self-absorbed’ narcissists than self-loving narcissists, especially on social media.

The Thing About Our Dark Side

As human beings, we repress many qualities that we were told are unacceptable. We might think that by denying the qualities we are born with, we function better as adults. Little do we know that such traits do find their way to manifest themselves unconsciously. This comes in ways that antagonise our good work or also known as self-sabotage. It is interesting that our contradicting behaviour is only apparent to the observer but not the doer. That is because something that is uncomfortable or unpleasant in our consciousness wants to communicate with our consciousness and make itself known.

The Law of Repression applies to everybody and is referred to as The Shadow by Carl Jung. The Laws of Human Nature states that we must get to know our Shadow and find creative ways to channel out the energies that lurk within our unconsciousness. Our authentic self can only emerge as a complete human when we know how to play/integrate our dark side, rather than have The Shadow outburst outside our control.


The Laws of Human Nature provide insight on how we can get to know ourselves better so that we can relate to others better. This is opposed to the idea of reading this book to find what is wrong with others. But rather it is for us to be aware of our emotional reactions and to work on ourselves internally. It is also important to know that none of us are exempt from the laws of human nature and that it operates within all of us.

Do you enjoy reading such reviews? Then maybe you’d like to read more of my reviews below:

Becoming Bulletproof by Evy Poumpouras
How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton Christensen

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