Some of them *are* just like programmers. Others... well, be kind.
That said, all of the higher level languages tend to obscure computational complexity to the point where I can frequently only tell exactly which approach is better by measuring after writing the code in more than one way. Too much magic dust between the level at which I'm writing at and the level it compiles to. But I still think that to be a decent programmer you need to understand things like index registers, storage allocation, and probably accumulators, even though no current chip has them (at the assembler level...probably at the microcode level).
OTOH, if I'm working at the assembler level, then synchronizing thread data visibility is beyond me. (Well, so is most stuff. I haven't done assembler language programming on any modern chip. The last one was the Z80.)
But without the assembler background (MIX would count) you can't build a good mental model of C, and without a good mental model of a basic compiler language, you can't really understand a dynamically allocated vector (or array, depending on your language).
I'm not sure that starting at the top, Python/PHP/Ruby/Scratch/Logo/etc., and building your understanding down will ever work. I haven't seen any good examples. (OTOH, I've certainly seen examples of starting at assembler and then not being able to build up, so perhaps.)
It used to be said that a good programmer tried to learn a new language every year. But that was back when languages were both very different and small. Still, I'd recommend that any programmer work his way through some sort of assembler, C, Scheme, Erlang, and Java. C++ is too big to include. Ada and Eiffel would be good additions, but don't add anything really important. Smalltalk seems to be dieing out, but you should pick up the Scratch dialect, which shouldn't take as much as a week. If you want you could substitute Logo or Lisp for Scheme. The idea here isn't to really master the languages. Just to learn them enough to create something fairly simple, a bit beyond "Hello, World", but not necessarily as fancy as tic-tac-toe.
FWIW, I once taught someone to code in Fortran, and he went on to become a professional programmer, but he wasn't a "real programmer", because his interests were in business and astrology, not programming. He *was* a skilled programmer. He was quite intelligent. But that wasn't where his interests were, so he wasn't a "real programmer".