Psychosynthesis is a spiritual and holistic approach to psychology in the humanistic tradition that holds that love, wisdom, creativity and will all be included in the integration of personality, with will being the directive force.
Developed by Roberto Assagioli, an Italian doctor and psychiatrist, contemporary of Freud and Jung whose particular brilliance was to recognise that the capacity to form habits enables us to “free up” our creativity. He understood these habitual patterns as having roots in the natural instinct to be safe, nourished, valued, purposeful, connected and to belong.
Assagioli’s original insights drew from both the scientific and psychological discoveries of his time, and also from his studies of the rich spiritual traditions of East and West. As with his friend Carl Gustav Jung, Assagioli saw how our daily experience is shaped by contexts to which we often pay little attention, and yet which offer us great potential for creativity and energy.
Long before the benefits of mindfulness became widely recognised, Assagioli designed a series of reflective and experiential exercises designed to bring our attention to the filters and settings we have put in place to make sense of the world. Looking at how these both serve and limit our experience, this gentle and careful personal practice often has a profoundly transformative effect.
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In 1974, Roberto Assagioli was interviewed for Psychology Today by its then editor, Sam Keen. “The Golden Mean of Roberto Assagioli” was Assagioli’s last major interview and Keen has added some fascinating reflection and observation of his own. The result shows that Assagioli was still developing his thinking and understanding, and intended that this tradition should continue to evolve and grow.
The discovery of the will in oneself, and even more the realization that the self and the will are intimately connected, may come as a real revelation which can change, often radically, a man’s self awareness and his whole attitude toward himself, other people, and the world. He perceives that he is a “living subject” endowed with the power to choose, to relate, to bring about changes in his own personality, in others, in circumstances. This enhanced awareness, this “awakening” and vision of new, unlimited potentialities for inner expansion and outer action, gives a new feeling of confidence, security, joy — a sense of “wholeness”.
Roberto Assagioli: The Act of Will. 1973