By Stephen C. Rose
I am not linking this to any of the myriad sites that discuss psychosynthesis or the prodigious work of Roberto Assagioli. Why? Because what I present here is my own understanding and I have no desire that it be taken as anything other than that. Its workability is entirely my sense of how it works for me. It makes no pretense of faithfully representing anyone else.
The first idea is that we are more than id, ego and superego. These Freudian pillars ignore the reality of a higher self. This is the moral center which is more than superego. It is a center of selflessness or generosity, It is not formed only by environment or training.
In other words, our nature contains a spiritual aspect that connects us to others, that gives us the impulse to do good and to achieve the higher ends in life.
The second idea is that Freud is right about our having an unconscious, and about its power to influence us in ways that we do not understand. But there is a reasonable way to deal with this and an unreasonable way.
It is unreasonable for most to engage in extended therapy to seek to analyze every detail of one's subconscious motivations. There is a short cut which which can get to "how you feel" with remarkable speed.
Before outlining this, it remains to say what the goal of Psychosynthesis is.
As its name implies, the goal is to create wholeness or synthesis of the person. I sometimes see this as the capacity to tell the story of one's life in a minute or less and feel OK about it. If you can't you may need some help.
Whatever synthesis is, the need for any sort of therapy or treatment is predicated on the lack of inner synthesis, on simply not having things together. On being at loose ends.
The way that Psychosynthesis moves toward synthesis is to identify and communicate with a group of personalities that represent us, called subpersonalities.
For example, most people have within them a little child in some frame of mind. I might call this a beaten-down little boy. I might give him a name. Sad Boy.
There might be an aggressive subpersonality. Lance. There might be a shy genius. Or a sexually-timid wallflower. There might be a transsexual dancer. Whatever.
These are merely approximations of "sides" of a personality.
A session might involve creating a list of three or four of these subpersonalities and then creating dialog among them. What do they want. What might one give to another. What might reconcile them.
The child might like the aggressive one to help confront a parent or a bully figure. Who might be another subpersonality. Almost always a subpersonality will have something another subbersonality needs.
Through such a process, a person begins to create negotiations between these elements. They come to accept one another. In the widest sense, pschosynthesis has the capacity to enhance and even to create self-acceptance.
It has been years since I did psychosynthesis with my friends David and Judy Bach. I remember times when I was helped through carhartic actions like banging pillows to release some emotions. But mainly I remember the reality of quick access to the unconscious, the ease of creating and dealing significantly with sub-personalities and the ultimate sense of self-acceptance that comes from the conviction that one does indeed possess a higher self, that the self is a spectrum, not all good not all bad. We move along that spectrum, hopefully higher and higher.
Now I do my own exercises if I feel the need. Guidance exercises. Goal setting. And even mini-sessions involving sub-personalities if I feel the need.
Anyone who takes the time to figure out my "theology" knows that I believe such deity as we can know is indeed within us, however he and she may also be beyond. This is inextricably involved with the insights of Psychosynthesis.
My impression is that there has always been an esoteric side to Psychosynthesis, a sort of Alice Bailey, theosophical, Steineresque throwback. I have little use for such thinking which I believe is actually a sort of elitist twinge that developed in England in the 19th Century as religion itself began its long and continuing collapse. I tend to believe in a much simpler set of things which does not require a vast menu of New Age terms and concepts.
Jesus whether fact or fiction. More than Hamlet. More than Barack. More than anyone else.