In 1909, C.G. Jung wrote to Sigmund Freud of “a very pleasant and perhaps valuable acquaintance, our first Italian, a Dr. Assagioli from the psychiatric clinic in Florence”. Later however, this same Roberto Assagioli (1888–1974) wrote a doctoral dissertation, “La Psicosintesi,” in which he began to move away from Freud’s psychoanalysis towards what he called psychosynthesis:
A beginning of my conception of psychosynthesis was contained in my doctoral thesis on Psychoanalysis (1910), 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.
In other words, 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).
Read more about this topic: Psychosynthesis
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