He developed therapeutic methods beyond those found in psychoanalysis. Although the unconscious is an important part of his theory, Assagioli was careful to maintain a balance with rational, conscious therapeutical work. Assagioli was not the first to use the term "psychosynthesis". The earliest was by James Jackson Putnam , who used it as the name of his electroconvulsive therapy. The term was also used by C. Jung and A.
Orage , who were both far closer to Assagioli's thinking than Putnam. Jung had written, comparing his goals to those of Sigmund Freud , "If there is a 'psychoanalysis' there must also be a 'psychosynthesis which creates future events according to the same laws'. Orage, who was the publisher of the influential The New Age journal, also made use of the term, which he hyphenated as psycho-synthesis. Orage formed an early psychology study group which included Maurice Nicoll who later studied with Carl Jung and concluded that what humanity needed was not psychoanalysis, but psycho-synthesis.
The psycho-synthesis is thus achieved in analytic treatment without our intervention, automatically and inevitably. In , C. Jung wrote to Sigmund Freud of "a very pleasant and perhaps valuable acquaintance, our first Italian, a Dr.
The Soul of Psychosynthesis – The Seven Core Concepts, by Kenneth Sørensen
Assagioli from the psychiatric clinic in Florence". A beginning of my conception of psychosynthesis was contained in my doctoral thesis on Psychoanalysis , in which I pointed out what I considered to be some of the limitations of Freud's views. In developing psychosynthesis, Assagioli agreed with Freud that healing childhood trauma and developing a healthy ego were necessary aims of psychotherapy, but held that human growth could not be limited to this alone. A student of philosophical and spiritual traditions of both East and West, Assagioli sought to address human growth as it proceeded beyond the norm of the well-functioning ego; he wished also to support the blossoming of human potential into what Abraham Maslow  later termed self-actualization , and further still, into the spiritual or transpersonal dimensions of human experience as well.
Assagioli envisioned an approach to the human being which could address both the process of personal growth—of personality integration and self-actualization—as well as transpersonal development—that dimension glimpsed for example in peak experiences Maslow of inspired creativity, spiritual insight, and unitive states of consciousness.
In addition, psychosynthesis recognizes the process of Self-realization, of contact and response with one's deepest callings and directions in life, which can involve either or both personal and transpersonal development. Psychosynthesis is therefore one of the earliest forerunners of both humanistic psychology and transpersonal psychology , even preceding Jung's break with Freud by several years. Assagioli's conception has an affinity with existential-humanistic psychology and other approaches which attempt to understand the nature of the healthy personality, personal responsibility and choice, and the actualization of the personal self; similarly, his conception is related to the field of transpersonal psychology, with its focus on higher states of consciousness, spirituality, and human experiencing beyond the individual self.
Accordingly, Assagioli served on the board of editors for both the Journal of Humanistic Psychology and the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology. Assagioli presents the two major theoretical models in his seminal book, Psychosynthesis ,  models that have remained fundamental to psychosynthesis theory and practice through the years.
These two models are 1 a diagram and description of the human person, and the other 2 a stage theory of the process of psychosynthesis see below. In Psychosomatic Medicine and Bio-psychosynthesis , Assagioli states that the principal aims and tasks of psychosynthesis are:. In his major book, Psychosynthesis: A Collection of Basic Writings , Assagioli writes of three aims of psychosynthesis:.
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Let us examine whether and how it is possible to solve this central problem of human life, to heal this fundamental infirmity of man. Let us see how he may free himself from this enslavement and achieve an harmonious inner integration, true Self-realization, and right relationships with others. For Assagioli, 'the lower unconscious, which contains one's personal psychological past in the form of repressed complexes, long-forgotten memories and dreams and imaginations',  stood at the base of the diagram of the mind.
The lower unconscious is that realm of the person to which is relegated the experiences of shame, fear, pain, despair, and rage associated with primal wounding suffered in life.
One way to think of the lower unconscious is that it is a particular bandwidth of one's experiential range that has been broken away from consciousness. It comprises that range of experience related to the threat of personal annihilation, of destruction of self, of nonbeing, and more generally, of the painful side of the human condition.
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As long as this range of experience remains unconscious, the person will have a limited ability to be empathic with self or others in the more painful aspects of human life. At the same time, 'the lower unconscious merely represents the most primitive part of ourselves It is not bad , it is just earlier '. The middle unconscious is a sector of the person whose contents, although unconscious, nevertheless support normal conscious functioning in an ongoing way thus it is illustrated as most immediate to "I".
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It is the capacity to form patterns of skills, behaviors, feelings, attitudes, and abilities that can function without conscious attention, thereby forming the infrastructure of one's conscious life. The function of the middle unconscious can be seen in all spheres of human development, from learning to walk and talk, 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". For Assagioli, 'Human healing and growth that involves work with either the middle or the lower unconscious is known as personal psychosynthesis '.
Assagioli termed 'the sphere of aesthetic experience, creative inspiration, and higher states of consciousness As with the lower unconscious, this area is by definition not available to consciousness, so its existence is inferred from moments in which contents from that level affect consciousness. Contact with the higher unconscious can be seen in those moments, termed peak experiences by Maslow, which are often difficult to put into words, experiences in which one senses deeper meaning in life, a profound serenity and peace, a universality within the particulars of existence, or perhaps a unity between oneself and the cosmos.
This level of the unconscious represents an area of the personality that contains the "heights" overarching the "depths" of the lower unconscious. As long as this range of experience remains unconscious — in what Desoille termed '"repression of the sublime"'  — the person will have a limited ability to be empathic with self or other in the more sublime aspects of human life. The higher unconscious thus represents 'an autonomous realm, from where we receive our higher intuitions and inspirations — altruistic love and will, humanitarian action, artistic and scientific inspiration, philosophic and spiritual insight, and the drive towards purpose and meaning in life'.
Subpersonalities based in the personal unconscious form a central strand in psychosynthesis thinking. A five-fold process of recognition, acceptance, co-ordination, integration, and synthesis 'leads to the discovery of the Transpersonal Self, and the realization that that is the final truth of the person, not the subpersonalities'. Some subpersonalities may be seen 'as psychological contents striving to emulate an archetype Psychosynthesis suggests that "we can experience the will as having four stages. The first stage could be described as 'having no will ' ",  and might perhaps be linked with the hegemony of the lower unconscious.
We might still feel that we cannot actually do it, but we know The "I" is placed at the center of the field of awareness and will in order to indicate that "I" is the one who has consciousness and will. It is "I" who is aware of the psyche-soma contents as they pass in and out of awareness; the contents come and go, while "I" may remain present to each experience as it arises.
But "I" is dynamic as well as receptive: "I" has the ability to affect the contents of awareness and can even affect awareness itself, by choosing to focus awareness as in many types of meditation , expand it, or contract it.
Since "I" is distinct from any and all contents and structures of experience, "I" can be thought of as not a "self" at all but as "noself". That is, "I" is never the object of experience. This "noself" view of "I" can be seen in Assagioli's discussion of "I" as a reflection of Self: "The reflection appears to be self-existent but has, in reality, no autonomous substantiality. It is, in other words, not a new and different light but a projection of its luminous source".
Pervading all the areas mapped by the oval diagram, distinct but not separate from all of them, is Self which has also been called Higher Self or Transpersonal Self.
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The concept of Self points towards a source of wisdom and guidance within the person, a source which can operate quite beyond the control of the conscious personality. Since Self pervades all levels, an ongoing lived relationship with Self—Self-realization—may lead anywhere on the diagram as one's direction unfolds this is one reason for not illustrating Self at the top of the diagram, a representation that tends to give the impression that Self-realization leads only into the higher unconscious. Relating to Self may lead for example to engagement with addictions and compulsions, to the heights of creative and religious experience, to the mysteries of unitive experience, to issues of meaning and mortality, to grappling with early childhood wounding, to discerning a sense of purpose and meaning in life.
The relationship of "I" and Self is paradoxical. This model lays out a path of self-development in which a healthy human being first masters the tasks of each of his developmental stages, the building blocks from infancy to early maturity: infancy, toddlerhood, school age, puberty, etc. See further reading resources below for more information about subpersonalities.
Once the personality is integrated, we synthesize it with the life and energy of the soul, or Higher Self, achieving a high state of awareness and functioning — the state which Dr. This leads us into greater synthesis as we gain an even wider sensibility of ourselves as a citizen of humanity and the Universe. In , Dr. He was in solitary confinement for over a month; during this period he spent much time in meditation and study, developing his spiritual psychology. After his release and his return to his family, Dr. Assagioli endured more losses and ravages of war, but he re-entered his interrupted professional projects with joy and vigor as soon as the war was over.
In addition to being a widely respected theorist in the twentieth century milieu of Western psychology, he was a long-term student of Eastern mysticism. Assagioli and a group of colleagues were making their own experiential investigations as students of a Tibetan meditation master. Though he never named it as such, it is easy to see that his model and his book, Psychosynthesis, is a blend of Eastern wisdom and Western psychology.
He also had a passionate interest in the life and development of the will, and his book The Act of Will thoroughly explores this topic from different facets: the levels of will, the stages of willing, and the development of the will. Each of Dr. Since his death in , psychosynthesis theory and practice continues to be developed by many hundreds of individual practitioners around the world. See resources below for more information about Dr. Assagioli, Roberto. Psychosynthesis A Collection of Basic Writings.