Introduction To Psychosynthesis

The Soul knows who we are from the beginning
James Hillman

Psychosynthesis has sometimes been called 'a Psychology with a Soul'. This is perhaps somewhat misleading. It might be better to view Psychosynthesis as a Psychology of Soul, utilising the original definition of Psychology as 'psyche-ology' or the Study of Soul. Psychosynthesis holds that we are born conscious but not yet self-conscious. James Hillman would add to this that all the qualities that lie within each individual Soul are already in existence, waiting only for their potentials to be actualised.

What transpires during the next few developmental years is the formation of self-consciousness, or in Freud's terminology, the Ego. The components of the Ego, or the sphere of self-consciousness, are created by the combination of the inherent qualities of the individual Soul plus the significant events and relationships in the individual's early life during the period when the Ego, or personality, is forming.

The following diagram, known as the Psychosynthesis 'Egg', and created by Roberto Assagioli early in the last century, provides us with a simple illustration of how he perceived of the relationship between the Personality and the Self, or individual Soul.

Psychosynthesis 'Egg'

Assagioli studied first of all under Freud, whose work he valued, but found too negative. He then studied under Carl Jung, who had broken away from the Freudian school because of his discovery of another level to the Unconscious Mind, which Assagioli later termed the Superconscious. This is the domain of the great Archetypes, the mythological Gods chosen as individual themes from the collective unconscious. He also found that there was a focal organising centre to the Superconscious which he termed the Self. (or Higher or Greater Self, or Soul).

Assagioli felt this was much closer to the reality he also was discovering in his work with clients. However, he felt the Jungian analytic method, involving analysis of the Archetypes, too long-winded. He felt it was more practical to deal with the Archetypes as they presented themselves within the personality of the individual. These he termed Sub-Personalities.

We all have several, perhaps many, Sub-Personalities (or alter-egos) and their interactions within the personality are often conflicted and negative. This causes individuals to be in a state of disharmony within themselves, or, in serious cases, fragmentation can occur. The establishment of a stable focus for the personality, which Assagioli termed the 'I' allows a two-way process to emerge. The 'I' is both a detached observer of the contents of the personality and also a still point through which the qualities inherent within the Self may begin to manifest, thus transforming the personality.

Self is unknowable to the personality, but as the knots and tangles within the personality become smoothed out, the personality becomes elevated. Life becomes filled with Purpose as the qualities of Self begin to manifest in each individual's life, bringing with them synthesis, expansion, harmony and meaning.

Through this method, not only is it possible to resolve long-standing inner conflicts and heal old wounds and traumas, it is also possible to grow beyond the old familiar limitations into an entirely revolutionised sense of being in the world as the individual's personality evolves and expands.