What is Psychosynthesis?
Psychosynthesis is a psychological movement founded by Italian psychoanalyst Dr. Roberto Assagioli (1888-1974). Psychosynthesis is part of a wider movement of psychospiritual development, exploration and enquiry. It is sometimes called 'transpersonal' because it includes the spiritual dimension of experience.
The psychospiritual approach views symptoms and issues as messengers from the soul, carrying messages that could lead to a deeper understanding of self and the emergence of new potential. Psychosynthesis seeks inner unification, because, in the words of Assagioli,
"We are not unified. We often have the illusion of being so, because we do not have many bodies or many limbs, and because one hand does not fight with the other, but in our inner world this is actually the case – various personalities and subpersonalities struggle continuously with each other; impulses, desires, principles and aspirations are in continual tumult. "
Psychosynthesis can support the individual in gaining a deeper meaning of the pains, confusions, dilemmas and vulnerabilities of being human. It can also expand one's sense of connection to the wider web of life, combatting the wide-spread experiences of emptiness, disconnection, powerlessness and anguish that pervade our modern culture.
Below you can find an excerpt from "The Golden Mean of Assagioli", an article where Assagioli explains the ethos and qualities of a psychosynthetic approach to the human psyche. For the extended version of the article, go to my blog post here.
Assagioli: Techniques are always related to the individual situation, so it is hard to generalize. But I can discuss two basic techniques: disidentification and training of the will.
I can begin with a fundamental psychological principle: We are dominated by everything with which our self is identified. We can dominate and control everything from which we disidentify ourselves.
The normal mistake we all make is to identify ourselves with some content of consciousness rather than with consciousness itself. Some people get their identity from their feelings, others from their thoughts, others from their social roles. But this identification with a part of the personality destroys the freedom which comes from the experience of the pure "1."
Keen: We identify with the predicate rather than the subject.
Assagioli: That is right. Often a crisis in life deprives a person of the function or role with which he has identified: an athlete's body is maimed, a lover's beloved departs with a wandering poet; a dedicated worker must retire. Then the process of disidentification is forced on one and a solution can only come by a process of death and rebirth in which the person enters into a broader identity.
But this process can occur with conscious cooperation. The exercise in disidentification and identification involves practising awareness and affirming: I have a body, but l am not my body. I have emotions, but I am not my emotions. I have a job, but I am not my job... etc. Systematic introspection can help to eliminate all partial self-identifications.
Read the extended version of the article here.