[Mandala by Clare Goodwin]

from the April, 1995 issue of the journal
Psicosintesi: Psychosynthesis Institute Magazine
Instituto Di Psicosintesi
via S. Domenico n.16 - I
50133 Firenze

Does Therapeutic Psychosynthesis Exist?
Author: R.L.B.
Translated from Italian

"Some men have a profound and subtle wisdom. So profound that they cannot be understood" (Chinese Proverb).Everyone who has approached the wisdom and ingeniousness of R. Assagioli, is not able to understand him: due to the depth of his ideas and of his message, everyone projects, as if onto a screen, their needs and adapt the contents of his work to their perspective. The therapist will judge the essence of psychosynthesis as psychotherapeutic, the trainer as psych pedagogic, who is considered a "master" as psychogogic, the religious person as spiritual, the scholar of psyche as psychological, and it is in this way, it seems to me, that the person wrote the article, signed OK, in the October 1994 issue.

The attention and research of Assagioli were prevalently centered on the use of energies liberated from the elimination of complexes, neurosis, fissures and psychic blocks and on the development of the deficient functions, so as to "converge towards the construction of an integrated personality, which functions harmoniously" and is projected into a transpersonal future.

Psychosynthesis indicates the way when the subject has left or is leaving the swamp of pathology. Assagioli, as he himself asserts, borrows various techniques from other psychological trends and adapts them to his own conceptual model to have always more possibilities to help the "normal" individual, or at least his/her "normal part", in the process of growth. This is the invitation he makes to all his followers: to not refuse but to use that which is good from other psychological doctrines.

But these techniques or methods, when we are faced with a psychiatric pathology, should be used with reference to the conceptual model to which they belong and not to the psychosynthetic one. The main points, which make up the theoretical body of psychosynthesis (disidentification, the personal Self, the will, the ideal model, synthesis, the superconscious, the transpersonal Self) are, on the other hand, inapplicable to a subject with a psychiatric pathology, while they go well with the simple and every day pathologies of the normal man, who wants to evolve and grow. To propose even one of the seven points above mentioned to someone suffering from psychiatric problems means to worsen his/her psychic state and create further fractures and dissociations.

It can be well said that to apply the factors and the fundamental techniques of psychosynthesis to a psychiatric patient is the last thing that a psychosynthetic psychotherapist should do. This does not mean that, when faced with a pathology, one must forget the concepts that are believed in, rather, in the therapeutic approach they should always be very clear.

These concepts represent the goal towards which the patient should be directed. They allow the patient to find his/her own healthy part, which exists in all ill people and that is the fulcrum for treatment. This does not mean that psychologists and psychiatrists do not continue to qualify themselves as psychosynthesists in as much as they follow the ideas of Assagioli. But, when they present themselves as therapists (of pathologies), they should define the theoretical, conceptual, analytical, dynamic, behavioral, bioenergetic model to which they refer and the doctrinal trends they follow.

Before publicly using the word "psychosynthesis" in 1926, Assagioli encapsulated his concepts in the term "psychogogy". He defined psychogogy as a way for the investigation, the domination and the use, and "above all for the harmonious integration of all elements" of the personality. His attention was always focused on normality and the evolutive and growth processes in the subject so as to draw him towards psychopedagogy more than towards psychology.

I agree with the point in the article in which it is affirmed that Assagioli had to present a manual of principles and methods of therapeutic psychosynthesis to be able to be accepted in a historical and political period of Italy, in which psychology was not well considered and, as regards psychopedagogy, the ideas of Montessori were just "a voice in the desert".

If the word psychogogy were not a disused and cacophonic term it could be used to define the field of action which is otherwise badly definable of psychosynthesis, fruit of "subtle wisdom and profound ingeniousness".