Psychosynthesis is a system of humanistic psychology devised by the Italian psychiatrist Roberto Assagioli (1888-1974). Based around ideas of self-actualisation, personal growth and the transpersonal, it provides exercises and techniques for synthesis of the disparate elements of the psyche into a well integrated autonomous whole- mental health in the broadest, most rounded sense. The transpersonal self is the highest part of the psyche, where spiritual experiences take place, and psychosynthesis aims to develop this realm. Like other psychologists , eg Jung, Maslow or Grof, Assagioli believed the healthiest individuals have a strong sense of meaning and purpose in life, accessing states of being where unity with human beings or the universe can be experienced, and a spirituality based on unconditional love developed.

Many techniques are provided for developing the individual's consciousness, the most important of these is the use of guided visualisation, a kind of active imagining that has spread right across the broad range of modern psychospiritual practice. Assagioli believed in "repression of the sublime" a mechanism where the individual prevents him/herself from experiencing higher states, his techniques focus partly on trying to halt this defence mechanism until transpersonal states can be experienced. Another common term is integration -integration of repressed material from the subconscious - in which psychosynthesis is no different from most conventional Freudian psychological thought.

Development of the will is also important if we are to evolve and there are visualisations and inner processes in psychosynthesis for this. Subpersonalities, aspects of the self, are explored and harnessed to the control of the self which should grow stronger and more able to live a fulfilling life. Other topics include : anger and aggression management, dealing with pain, symbolism, directing attention and cultivating silence.

After experimenting at length with my own guided visualisation exercises, I feel that of all the psychosynthesis techniques, this one brought the best results, I felt calm and in control afterwards. Some of the ideas may seem a little on the subjective and wooly side- the weaker aspects of a lot of New Age/humanistic thought, but psychosynthesis is well worth exploring. To quote from Ferruci's book:

"If you work on yourself, you are already participating in the extraordinary, ageless work of overcoming darkness and pain, and of the evocation of human potential. Take some time to realise that this work is not only your own private project, but the part of a wider unfoldment in which countless individuals are participating in many ways : the evolution of mankind."

Maybe a touch of the transpersonal wouldn't do a lot of us any harm !

for more information see:


"Psychosynthesis" Roberto Assagioli

"What We May Be" Piero Ferucci

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