Psychosynthesis: History, Theory, Principles, Stages and Methods

Psychosynthesis

The psychosynthesis is a therapeutic approach that focuses on personal growth and development, where it is believed that individuals tend to synthesize various aspects of the self to become more evolved and self -realized . This method of therapy can be viewed as a transpersonal approach because it integrates many aspects of the human experience, including spiritual, emotional, cognitive, and physical aspects.

It has also been described as a psychology of being, in the sense that the realms of human experience include matters of soul and spirit, along with physical and emotional thoughts and experiences and mental processes. People seeking therapy to learn about themselves or feel more connected to their environment can benefit from psychosynthesis. Those with existential concerns may also find this form of therapy helpful.

History of psychosynthesis

It is over a century old, dates back to 1910, and was developed by Roberto Assagioli, an Italian psychiatrist and contemporary of Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud. Considering the importance of psychoanalytic thinking during the first half of the 20th century, it is not surprising that psychosynthesis has its roots in psychoanalysis.

Assagioli developed psychosynthesis because he felt that Freudian analysis was too limited and narrow in terms of his view of human nature and potential, he wanted an approach to therapy that included spirituality, intuition, will and imagination, one that would help people To grow and self-actualize, he continued to develop his theory over the following decades. Assagioli believed that a person’s main task is to find a sense of wholeness within oneself and a connection to a larger whole, such as one’s community or the world.

During the last century, psychosynthesis developed and grew significantly, its use has also spread widely. It was introduced to the United States in the 1960s, adopted by therapists who preferred a more humanistic approach to treatment, and expanded in terms of its comprehensiveness, integrating theories and techniques from other therapeutic approaches, including transactional analysis and Gestalt therapy .

Therapists using psychosynthesis in their current practice often take an integrated approach to treatment, tailoring their approach to meet the unique needs of their clients (and turning to other therapies to do so), rather than trying to make a specific approach work. The professionals and training centers can be found all over the world, including most countries, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, Mexico, and the United States.

Theory and principles of psychosynthesis

There are some crucial core ideas, and the first is the idea of disidentification, when a person disidentifies, they can move freely between different thoughts, feelings, and behaviors rather than being stuck in one way of existing. Psychosynthesis suggests that empathy provides a path to disidentification, when an individual is fully seen and understood by another, they can authentically explore their emotional experience and be themselves without restrictions or limitations.

Another central concept of psychosynthesis is the idea of ​​the self,  Assagioli believes that people can explore their personal experience as it becomes conscious through introspection, giving them a sense of identity. He also theorized that in order to make changes and avoid unconscious repetition, an individual must use his will as it provides the ability to make conscious decisions about where to direct consciousness and how to act.

The concept of synthesis is another important component, Assagioli theorized that people are not totally unified, but are made up of several sub-personalities. Synthesis, then, is a process in which these subpersonalities become a larger organic whole, although subpersonalities may not always exist in perfect harmony, synthesis involves finding a way to empathically relate to each aspect of the self.

While Freud focused on the unconscious, Assagioli was interested in other levels of consciousness, such as the superconscious, another key aspect of psychosynthesis. The superconscious is described as a higher level of consciousness that is not directly accessed, but that is inferred from moments of peak experiences, it is said that connecting with the superconscious implies a profound moment when an individual feels connected to the world around him and as if he had glimpsed the deepest meaning of life.

Ovoid diagram of psychosynthesis

lower unconscious

For Assagioli, the lower unconscious, contains one’s personal psychological past in the form of repressed complexes, forgotten memories, and dreams and imaginations’, is at the base of the mind diagram.

The lower unconscious is the realm of the person to whom the experiences of shame, fear, pain, despair and anger associated with the primary hurts suffered in life are relegated. One way to think of the lower unconscious is that it is a particular bandwidth of the experiential range that has been separated from consciousness. It includes that range of experience related to the threat of personal annihilation, of the destruction of the self, of not being and, in general, of the painful side of the human condition.

As long as this range of experience remains unconscious, the person will have a limited capacity to empathize with oneself or with others in the most painful aspects of human life. At the same time, it merely represents the most primitive part of ourselves.

Middle unconscious

It is a sector of the person whose unconscious contents support normal conscious functioning on a continuous basis. It is the ability to form patterns of skills, behaviors, feelings, attitudes and abilities that can function without conscious attention, thus forming the infrastructure of conscious life itself.

The role of the middle unconscious can be seen in all spheres of human development, from learning to walk and speak, to acquiring languages, to mastering a trade or profession, to developing social roles. Anticipating today’s neuroscience, Assagioli even referred to “developing new neuromuscular patterns,” all of these elaborate ones based on learnings and skills that must eventually operate unconsciously.

superior unconscious

The higher unconscious (or superconscious) denotes our higher potentialities that seek to express themselves, but that we often reject and repress. As with the lower unconscious, this area, by definition, is not available to consciousness, so its existence is inferred from the moments when the contents of that level affect it. This level represents an area of ​​the personality that contains the heights that encompass the “depths” of the lower unconscious, as long as this range of experience remains unconscious the person will have a limited capacity to be empathic with himself or with another in the most sublime aspects of life. human life.

The higher unconscious therefore represents an autonomous realm from which we receive our higher insights and inspirations: altruistic love and will, humanitarian action, artistic and scientific inspiration, philosophical and spiritual insight, and the drive toward purpose and meaning in life. life. It can be compared to Freud’s superego, seen as the superior, moral and suprapersonal side of human nature, incorporating “Religion, morality and a social sense”, in the superior side of man, leaving science and art aside.

Subpersonalidades

Subpersonalities based on the personal unconscious form a central strand in psychosynthesis thinking, they exist at various levels of organization, complexity, and refinement throughout the mind. A five-part process of recognition, acceptance, coordination, integration and synthesis, which leads to the discovery of the Transpersonal Self and the understanding that this is the ultimate truth of the person, not the subpersonalities.

The conscious SELF

It is the direct reflection or projection of the essential Being of the person, distinct but not separate from all the contents of the experience. “I” has the two functions of consciousness and will, whose field of operation is represented by the concentric circle in the diagram.

Psychosynthesis suggests that we can experience the will as having four stages. The first stage could be described as having no will and could perhaps be related to the hegemony of the lower unconscious. The next stage of the will is to understand that it will exist, we can still feel that we cannot do it, but we know that it is possible. Once we have developed our will, at least to some extent, we move on to the next stage called ‘having a will,’ “and then the fourth and final stage of evolution,” individual self. ”

The “I” is placed in the center of the field of consciousness and will do so to indicate that “I” is the one who has consciousness and will, it is the “I” who is aware of the contents of the psyche as they enter and leave. awareness; the contents come and go, while “I” can remain present in each experience as it arises.

Higher self or self

The self-concept points to a source of wisdom and guidance within the person, a source that can operate well beyond the control of the conscious personality. Since the Self pervades all levels, an ongoing lived relationship with self-realization can lead to any part of the diagram as direction develops (this is one reason not to illustrate the Self at the top of the diagram)

Relating to oneself can lead, for example, to engagement with addictions and compulsions, to the heights of creative and religious experience, to the mysteries of the unitive experience, to questions of meaning and mortality, to dealing with early childhood wounds. , to discern a sense of purpose and meaning in life.

Assagioli «Star» diagram

It shows the relationship that our being has with our personality and our psychological functions. Psychological functions are the basic capacities that we rely on to become aware and to act, both internally and in the world. The Assagioli diagram, with its wide variety of functions (intuition, imagination, sensation, etc.), makes it clear how complex and unique people are, each of us relies differently on the various functions, emphasizing some more than other

It also points to the variety of ways we have to create change, we can use any psychological function and start a process that changes us as a whole person. The psychological laws relating to will training explain the processes we use to create change. This diagram gives an idea of ​​the integrity and richness of the human being.

What is a psychosynthesis session like?

At a basic level, psychosynthesis is a type of talk therapy, just like psychoanalysis , it involves focusing on introspection and exploration of the unconscious. Introspection, or empathic self-exploration, is very encouraging as it allows a person to consciously explore various aspects of being to increase awareness and allow for growth and development.

Guided imagery, symbolic illustrations, and journaling can be used to help an individual become more introspective. People who practice psychosynthesis believe that almost any method that helps an individual in their personal development is helpful.

Stages in psychosynthesis

Each person is a different individual, and each person’s psychosynthesis follows a unique path. Still, the general process can be divided into two stages:

  • In the stage of personal psychosynthesis , our personality is integrated around the personal self, and the individual reaches a satisfactory and “healthy” level of functioning in terms of work, relationships and life in general.
  • In the transpersonal psychosynthesis stage , we learn to stay aligned with the transpersonal Self; to bring into play energies such as responsibility, the spirit of cooperation, a global perspective, love and purpose, and to listen to inner guidance and wisdom.

The two stages often overlap: we can begin our transpersonal awareness and action long before our personal integration is complete.

Methods and techniques of psychosynthesis

Psychosynthesis was considered by Assagioli as one more orientation and a general approach for the whole human being, and as existing apart from any of its particular concrete applications, this approach allows to use a great variety of techniques and methods within the context. Dialogue, Gestalt techniques, dream work, guided imagery, affirmations, and meditation are powerful tools for integration, but the attitude and presence of the guide are of far greater importance than the particular methods used.

Sand tray, art therapy, diary, drama therapy and body work; cognitive-behavioral techniques; Object relationships, autopsychology, and family systems approaches can be used in different contexts, from individual and group psychotherapy to meditation and self-help groups. Psychosynthesis offers an overview that can help guide you within the wide range of different modalities available today, and apply for both therapy and self-actualization.

A broad classification of the techniques used includes the following titles:

  • Analytical:  To help identify blocks and allow exploration of the unconscious. Psychosynthesis emphasizes the importance of using obstacles as steps to growth
  • Mastery: Psychological functions need to be gradually retrained to produce permanent positive change.
  • Transformation: The remodeling of the personality around a new center.
  • Relational: Cultivate qualities such as love and empathy.

Psychosynthesis enables physicians to recognize and validate a wide range of human experiences: the vicissitudes of developmental difficulties and early trauma; struggling with compulsions, addictions, and the trance of everyday life; the confrontation with existential identity, choice and responsibility; levels of creativity, peak performance and spiritual experience and the search for meaning and direction in life. Neither of these important spheres of human existence should be reduced to the other, and each can find its correct place in the whole.

This means that no matter what type of experience is carried out, and no matter what growth phase is negotiated, the complexity and uniqueness of the person can be respected, a fundamental principle in any application of psychosynthesis.

How can psychosynthesis help?

It is a broad theory of psychology, designed to help with a wide range of issues and with human development in general. Assagioli believed that psychosynthesis could effectively treat neuroses, trauma , anxiety, and depression . As this method of therapy focuses on growth and development, it can also be particularly helpful for people who have difficulty understanding themselves or finding meaning and purpose in their lives.

The use of psychosynthesis can extend beyond therapy and mental health, the basics, including personal growth and connection between oneself and others, have been used in education, medicine, and business.

Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.

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