What Jung referred to as individuation and Maslow self-actualisation, Assagioli termed psychosynthesis.
Italian psychiatrist, Dr Roberto Assagioli developed psychosynthesis at the beginning of the last century A student of Sigmund Freud and colleague of Carl Gustav Jung, Assagioli was critical of the reductionist approach taken by psychoanalysis at the time and so sought to develop a psychology that addressed the heights, as well as the depths, of human existence. Having studied both Eastern and Western traditions, philosophy and mysticism, Assagioli synthesised these wisdoms to offer a unique approach to therapy, counselling, interpersonal relations, education, and holistic health.
Assagioli believed that while our childhood experiences undoubtedly affect the conditions our living present, we also have within us the vast human potential for healing and change. When we repress this higher potential for wholeness, it can lead to debilitating symptoms, loss of meaning and psychological dis-ease which may add to, and be equal to, the distress arising out of childhood trauma.
Therefore psychosynthesis psychology is not simply a model of pathology and treatment. It seeks to understand human life within the broad context of synthesis – the drive towards the reconciliation of all relationships: intrapersonal, interpersonal, societally, between nations, or the diverse natural networks through which the planet manifests sentient life.
Writing in the 1960s Asssagioli explained “…all human individuals and groups of all kinds should be regarded as elements, cells or organs (that is, living parts) of a greater organism which includes the whole of [humanity]. Thus the principle of, and the trend to, synthesis carries us from group to group in ever wider circles to humanity as an integral whole. The essential unity of origin, of nature and of aims, and the unbreakable interdependence and solidarity between all human beings and groups are a spiritual, psychological and practical reality. It cannot be suppressed, however often it may be negated and violated through the numberless conflicts in which men, foolishly and painfully, squander their precious energies and even deprive each other of the sacred gift of life.”
Psychosynthesis considers individual existence as an expression of a larger reality. There is a natural tendency toward evolution, towards unfoldment, that pervades the universe as well as the human sphere. Our task is to good-humouredly clear the way for this propensity and work actively to bring it into existence.