From the Force of the Heart
The time has come for a radical rethinking. Instead of the opposition of various medical areas we need models in which a wide variety of approaches can coexist. This requires a holistic view of human beings ahead and as well as a willingness to learn new insights all the time. This is exactly what is the nature of psychosynthesis, explains Gerhard Schobel in this article.
Therefore, it is time that the model, which already belongs to the major therapeutic models in the Anglo-Saxon world, will further gain ground in Switzerland.
Imagine, your favorite tree in the garden gets poor in health and is bearing fruits barely. Ask the four best gardeners around for advice.
The first gardener concludes the tree needs more minerals and fertilizes the soil.
The second gardener locates the problem in the growth of the tree and cuts the tree in shape.
The third gardener directs his attention to the weather and comes to the conclusion that dry summer is to blame.
The fourth gardener looks at the history of the tree, asking for its age, if the tree has grown by itself or whether it was planted there. He examines what are its needs to soil, climate, and so on. How is the tree connected to the ground, which other plants are growing close to it? In consideration of all this informations the gardener will plan to support the tree in its growth.
Redemption of a conflict of approaches
When I started my work in psychiatry thirty years ago, I was impressed by the treatment potential of medicine and pharmacology. I still am.
At the same time I have dealt with shamanism and methods of alternative medicine which were also important for me. Both sectors seemed completely conclusive to me, but still different at the same time. The difficulty was that it required a real mental balancing act to keep these two opposite approaches in my perception.
Then I discovered the psychosynthesis to me – a concept which combines the different fields of healing. Psychosynthesis has been developed by an Italian psychoanalyst named Roberto Assagioli MD (1888-1972) since the year 1911th. It is based on the three pillars of medicine, pedagogy and spirituality.
“Psychosynthesis is not a doctrine or a “school” of psychology; it is not a special or single method of self-fulfillment, therapy and education. (…). There is no conventional or orthodoxy thinking in psychosynthesis. And no one, beginning with myself, should be seen as their exclusive or representative leader.”, Assagioli wrote.
Psychosynthesis is an attitude. Assagioli wanted that it evolves and that it remains open to new perceptions – from whatever source! Off course just as long as these extensions do fit into the anthropological model of psychosynthesis (see box).
With the heart of a warrior
As like as the fourth gardener the psychosynthesis tries to understand human beings in their totality. Healing is that we perceive ourselves in our entirety in conjunction with the various levels of consciousness and that we act accordingly. Therefore, we must live from our midst, from our heart force.
“To open deeply, as genuine spiritual life requires, we need tremendous courage and strength – a kind of fighting spirit. The place, where this power of fighting spirit grows, is the heart. (…) We need a warrior’s heart that lets us face our lives directly, our pains and limitations, our joys and possibilities. This courage allows us to include every aspect of life in our spiritual practice: our bodies, our families, our society, politics, the ecology, art, education. Only then can spirituality be truly integrated into our lives.”, tells Jack Kornfield, the well-known American Buddhist and author.
This is the endeavor of psychosynthesis: A life from the power of the heart does not mean that we are constantly smiling and walk a few centimeters above the ground floating through life, but on the contrary – if we have the courage to join head and heart, we can face life and consciously involve oureselves with all the experiences related.
We are both, gardeners and trees
When we reflect on our conscious middle – our heart power – we encounter the people, and also ourselves with love and compassion. If we act as health professionals from the understanding, that healer and patient are two souls on a voyage, we will activate our counterpart better in his or her own strength. We will walk together the path of healing, respect our counterpart, understand and discover with him or her new ways and possibilities of healing. It is this deep heart to heart connection, which makes the cure possible.
Who deals with psychosynthesis, will quickly realize that the approach has both, received the findings from the classical psychology and from the wisdom teachings throughout the world. Whether Kabbalah, Buddhism, Shamanism or Huna – they all find their equivalents in the approach of psychosynthesis.
Psychosynthesis works, to explore the unconscious, with a variety of methods and techniques, which are also known from the classical forms of therapy, such as Talk therapy, imagination, daydream techniques, creative expression, meditation, body work and so on. Psychosynthesis uses many active psychological techniques that first aimed at the development and perfection of personality and a harmonious co-ordination and increasing unification with the self.
Depending on the field of activity in which it is used and depending on the various purposes for which they may serve, psychosynthesis can be:
- A method of spiritual development and self-realization
- a treatment for psychological and psychosomatic disorders
- a method of holistic education that the child (and the adults) helps to develop his or
her skills and his or her true spiritual nature
- an individual expression of a wider principle, interindividual and cosmic synthesis.
People who are going the way of psychosynthesis – even if very limited in time – describe their experiences over and over again as extraordinarily liberating, as vitality and as a way to promote their joie de vivre. It is a positivist approach, which shows the weaknesses and heals, but the focus directs to promote the strengths and potentials.
The human model of psychosynthesis
1 Lower unconscious
2 The middle unconscious
3 The higher unconscious
4 The field of consciousness
5 The ego or personal self
6 The higher or transpersonal self
7 The collective unconscious
- The lower unconscious
corresponds to the subconscious of traditional psychology and includes the basic physiological processes of life, the co-ordination of our body, the basic instincts, the primitive impulses, the unconscious memories of past positive and negative experiences, and various pathological manifestations.
- The middle unconscious
symbolizes the level on which is our waking consciousness potentially conscious. Sigmund Freud called this area the forecourt of consciousness. It is the space in which a kind of psychological preparation and/or integration of experiences takes place.
- The higher unconscious
has been conceptualized in detail only in the psychosynthesis. It is the home of our higher aspirations and intuitions of higher, but often latent and unconscious psychic functions and spiritual energies. It is the source of genius and of the states of contemplation, illumination and ecstasy. The impulses and energies that shape the development of the individual and of humanity as a whole result from the higher unconscious.
- The field of consciousness
reflects the contents of our consciousness, which are perceived by us in this very moment. We know this area directly through our senses. Here we take the “true infinite stream of consciousness“ in the form of images, thoughts, impulses, feelings, sensations and desires. In this area we are assessing, analyzing, and we are seeing all the time.
- The ego or personal self
is the center of our consciousness, the point of pure self-awareness. It is the place of the “I am”, seat of our true will, giving the freedom to us to decide which mental contents (feelings, thoughts, beliefs, motives, impulses, etc.) we identify ourselves with or from what we want to turn away (centering).
- The higher or transpersonal self
is the point of our true being. It is our spiritual source, where we experience “oneness”. The asterisk, drawn half the egg chart half outside – it is symbolizing the universal and the individual nature of human existence.
- The collective unconscious
As humans, we are in touch with our contemporaries. The outer line in the egg-chart symbolizes a distinction but no separation, it can rather be understood as a membrane that keeps us in a process of “psychological osmosis”, in a constant exchange with the world around. It is essentially similar to the “collective unconscious” of Carl Gustav Jung. We, unlike Jung make a clear distinction of the different dimensions in the collective unconscious.
All lines are deliberately breached, to show that there is no real separation, but the transitions are always flowing.
Piero Ferrucci: “Crescere. Teoria e pratica della psicosintesi” (1981),“What We May Be: Techniques for Psychological and Spiritual Growth Through Psychosynthesis” (2009)
Roberto Assagioli: “Psychosynthesis: A Manual of Principles and Techniques” (1971)
Roberto Assagioli: “The Act of Will” (2010)
Information & contact