What Is Psychosynthesis?

Psychosynthesis was born in 1910 when the Italian psychiatrist Roberto Assagioli became dissatisfied with psychoanalysis. Although Assagioli was a colleague of Sigmund Freud and C. G. Jung , and an early pioneer of psychoanalysis in Italy, he saw that psychoanalysis neglected the healthier and “higher” aspects of human nature. He sought not only “psycho-analysis,” but “psycho-synthesis”—an understanding of how the psyche becomes whole.

There are two major models presented by Assagioli in his seminal book, Psychosynthesis (1965). The first of these is the basic model of the human personality, also known as the “oval-shaped” or “egg” diagram. While this first model is purposely a relatively static model, the second model—the stages of psychosynthesis—is more dynamic, describing the different stages a person may encounter over the course of psychosynthesis.

In addition to these two models, psychosynthesis recognizes two dimensions of human growth: personal and transpersonal growth. The first of these involves developing a clear sense of personal identity while the second involves engaging more unitive and universal types of experience beyond individuality. Distinct from both of these is the process of Self-realization in which we contact and respond to the deepest currents in our soul; here a life path unfolds which may engage either or both dimensions of growth.

Over the past ninety years, psychosynthesis has grown into a comprehensive and compassionate approach to the whole person. Today it is represented by a growing body of literature in many languages, practitioners working in a variety of different professions, and over one hundred institutes operating throughout the world.