These two lectures represent an excellent introduction to the core ideas of psychosynthesis, especially as it relates to the transpersonal realm.
C. G. Jung and Psychosynthesis, by Roberto Assagioli
By Roberto Assagioli; Source: 1967, The Psychosynthesis and Research Foundation. Issue no. 19,
Among psychotherapists, Jung is one of the closest and most akin to the conceptions and practice of psychosynthesis. But the body of his work is so large; his range covers so many different fields, that a complete examination of it would require a sizable book. I shall thus have to limit myself to a comparative survey of some of the fields that are more directly concerned with psychosynthesis; that is, the structure of the psyche of the human being; the dynamics of the psychic energies; the methods of psychological therapy and education.
The comparative procedure is very productive, because it contrasts the respective positions as to their points of agreement and divergence. But comparison does not imply judgment or criticism; and I will attempt to be as objective as possible, to stick to facts, leaving the reader to draw his own conclusions.
Carl Gustav Jung was a keen investigator and an able therapist of the human being, who carried his work forward with a mind free from preconceptions and academic fetters. His life lacked any outstanding and dramatic event; born in Switzerland, he lived with his family mainly at Kushacht, in a comfortable but not luxurious house agreeably situated-on the shore of the Lake of Zurich. In the second part of his life, however, he traveled and spent considerable periods abroad (in India, Africa and America) studying the customs of the people and the characteristics of ancient civilizations. He had a kindly welcome for the stream of visitors from all countries, and I have vivid memories of pleasant and animated conversations with him in his book lined study full of curious exotic objects.
He had great and diversified gifts: he possessed deep human feeling, an insatiable thirst for knowledge, an admirable integrity and intellectual modesty, coupled with a sincere recognition of his own limitations and those of others as well. In his The Psychology of the Unconscious he does not hesitate to admit:
“The work in this field is work for pioneers. I have often gone astray and many times have had to go back and learn from the beginning. But I am aware of it and for this reason am resigned to having to admit that, as the day emerges from the night, so truth is born of error.
But I have never been frightened by error, nor have I regretted it seriously. Scientific investigation was never for me the cow that gave milk, and not even a means of acquiring prestige, but an often bitter confrontation with reality forced on me by my daily psychological experience among the sick. For this reason not all I present is written with the brain but not a little with the heart, and the well-disposed reader is asked not to forget it when, as he follows the main course of the intellectual argument, he comes across breaks that are not satisfactorily repaired. A harmonious flow in the presentation can only be looked for when one writes of things already known. When, instead, prodded by the necessity of helping and curing, one seeks new means, one is forced to speak about matters that are not known.”
This confession of Jung’s should be greatly appreciated. His understanding of the relativity of our knowledge and the recognition of the unavoidable subjective element in every researcher made him shun all systematic formulations and categorical statements. He took up a firm position on the ground of psychological experience and the empirical method, thus demonstrating a true scientific spirit. With it, however, he combined some lack of precision in thinking and writing and an unwillingness to admit a substantial reality transcending the strictly psychological sphere. But this limitation of his shows how unjust was the accusation of “mysticism” leveled at him many times. Such a charge reflects a lack of comprehension both of Jung and of mysticism. In reality the two standpoints are not only different but quite opposite. The mystic believes firmly in the existence of God, of a Universal Spirit; he is convinced of being, or of having been, in a state of union with that transcendental Reality. Jung, on the contrary, assumes an agnostic attitude towards it; he admits the subjective, “psychological” reality of the experience, but maintains that its essential, transcendental reality cannot be regarded as demonstrated. This can be considered a merit or a limitation, according to the point of view. In any case it absolves Jung of the charge of mysticism-a serious one in the opinion of some people.
Let us turn now to the fundamental problem of psychology: the structure of the psyche. Jung has a keen sense of the complexity of the human psyche. To quote his own words “Our psychic nature is of an unimaginable complexity and diversity.” He has pointed out the relative autonomy of the various psychic contents and the existence, often quite incompatible, of different sub-personalities or, as he calls them, personae (in the Latin sense of “masks”).
He makes a distinction, however, between these personae—which also correspond to social, interpersonal roles and functions—and the “inner personality”. In his view, “The inner personality is the manner of one·s behavior towards the inner psychic processes. I term the outer attitude, or outer character, the persona, the inner attitude I term the anima, or soul.” (Psychological Types, p. 593)
Concerning the psychic functions, Jung, as is well known, differentiates between four fundamental ones: sensation, feeling, thought and intuition . In this he differs from almost all other psychologists by his acceptance of the existence of the intuition as a normal psychological function of the human being. Psychosynthesis assumes the same position and lays much emphasis upon the importance and value of the intuition and upon the necessity of developing it. According to Jung, it is the psychological function that permits perceptions to arise from the unconscious and causes their contents to emerge as complete wholes. He continues: “Intuitive cognition, therefore, possesses an intrinsic character of certainty and conviction which enabled Spinoza to uphold the ‘scientia intuitiva’ as the highest form of cognition.”
Among the moderns, the greatest advocate of the intuition has been, not a psychologist, but a philosopher, Henri Bergson. Much as there is to be said about the intuition, I will mention only that there are various types or levels of it: the Bergsonian intuition, which occurs predominantly at the normal personality levels, is very different from that of Plotinus, which is purely spiritual. Jung asserts that the intuition exists at both these levels, on which it assumes different aspects but is fundamentally the same.
An important difference from psychosynthesis exists in connection with the psychological functions. Psychosynthesis maintains that Jung’s four fundamental functions do not provide for a complete description of the psychological life; but that there are other functions as fundamental, which merit inclusion as well. The first is the imagination. Jung’s lack of recognition of the imaginative function appears strange in view of his attributing such great importance to images and symbols. The explanation lies in his belief that imaginative activity can evidence itself in all the four other functions. But he asserts this without demonstrating it or dealing with it. It seems impossible to admit that fantasy or imagination can be manifested in the function of sensation, which is a perception, by means of the senses, of the so-called external reality; that is, of impacts coming from the external world. On the other hand, other psychologists correctly give the imagination a fundamental place in psychological life.
Another group of functions that must be accorded a similar consideration are the dynamic or “hormic” functions (from the Greek word “orme” meaning tendency or impulse). This group includes the instincts, tendencies, impulses, desires and aspirations, in fact all that impels to action. Desire has been included among these hormic activities, though desire is generally conceived in terms of only, or at least principally, its subjective
aspect-desire as something one feels, an emotion one has. But this is solely its subjective aspect; in reality desire is or has a dynamic energy that impels to action. It has been said of it that it is a primordial tendency, the attractive impulse towards the not-self. The Dictionary of Psychological and Psychoanalytical Terms by H. and E. English (New York, Longmans Green, 1958), an excellent compilation of marked objectivity, defines desire as something active to which the terms “want”, “need”, “craving” to possess something are applied. The Lexique de Philosophie by A. Bertrand comments: “According to Spinoza, desire is the fundamental tendency to persist in being.”
It may seem surprising that, among these active tendencies, the will has not been included. But a fundamental difference exists between the drives, impulses and desires, on the one hand, and the will on the other. We can all verify the difference, even the opposition between them; and one might say that the “human condition” is a constant conflict between drives, impulses and desires and the will.
In a certain sense the will is something of a mystery, and if academic psychologists have neglected desire, they have for the most part ignored the existence of the will. I shall quote in this connection the Dictionary of Psychological and Psychoanalytical Terms already referred to. Under the item “Will” and “Voluntary action” it says: “Scientific psychology has not yet reached the point where it is possible to define how these terms should be used; and yet it does not seem possible to do without the concept of a praxis of behavior patterns that should be termed voluntary and which differ from other patterns in various ill-defined ways.” Vague as this may be, one can detect a rather tight-lipped admission that there exists this disturbing something in psychology which is the will.
One of the reasons for this mystery about the will lies in its intimate association with the “I”, the subject, the center of consciousness. In reality, all functions are functions of a living, self-conscious being and thus of an “I”. It is the “I” that feels and thinks, that imagines, desires and wills above all that wills—and therefore as one has in general a vague and dim sense of one’s self, of self-consciousness, it is not surprising that one’s sense of its fundamental function—the will is equally confused and faint. The diagram below, though only approximate, is intended to indicate this structure of the psyche.
The triangles starting from the central circle represent the psychic functions: sensation; emotion; imagination; impulse and desire; thought; and intuition. The will occupies a position apart from the others, a central position indicated by the circular area surrounding the point of self-consciousness, the “I” or Ego.
We now come to the direction of the vital interest, and so pass from the descriptive to the dynamic aspect. One of Jung’s most valuable contributions was the discovery and description of two fundamental psychological types based on whether the vital interest is directed outwards or inwards, and thus “extraverted” or “introverted”. I should mention at once that it is less a matter of “types” in a precise and static sense, and more of the prevailing direction of the vital interest, and thus of the consequent evaluations, chokes, decisions and actions. This predominating tendency can be strong (for instance, indicating this intensity in percentages—ninety per cent) or weak (sixty per cent, or say forty per cent). There is little need to describe the characteristics of the extravert and introvert; by now they are a matter of common knowledge. It is worth remembering that this prevailing tendency is subject to extreme, even pathological, variations. In its almost pure form, extraversion is to be observed in manic states, introversion in melancholia and depression.
This direction of the vital interest is susceptible to alternations and oscillations ranging from the normal and moderate to the extreme and pathological. The extremes in alternation are to be found in cyclothimia and manic-depressive psychoses, which may or may not be intercalated by periods of equilibrium. In addition, the alternation can be rapid or slow, the cycles long or short. It is interesting to observe how a normal alternation occurs in relation to the various ages from birth to old age. The infant is totally introverted, totally absorbed in his organic sensations. As childhood progresses, he becomes increasingly extraverted and directs his interest towards the external world. The adolescent reverts to introversion when the awakening of energies, feelings, and emotions creates problems and crises that focus his interest upon himself. This generally gives place again to extraversion as the young man and adult become involved in relationships with others (interpersonal and social) and in professional activities. Maturity and especially old age produce a return to introversion, accompanied by detachment and waning interest in the external world, and by a tendency towards the inner life, contemplation and dispassionate observation.
By combining the tendency to extraversion or introversion with the four psychological functions he postulates, Jung arrives at a classification of eight types: the extraverted sensory, the extraverted emotional, the extraverted mental, the extraverted intuitive, and four corresponding introverted types. But this and other classifications expose those who adopt them to the dangers of schematicism and pigeon-holing, of yielding to the (so comfortable!) tendency to “label” human beings. We must be on our guard against overlooking the multifarious and complex facets of human reality. It is all too easy to regard others as “objects” instead of “subjects”. And this labeling, with its associated attitudes of judging, or more often of depreciation, often provokes hostile reactions, sometimes of an intense kind, which are thoroughly justified.
But to the eight types recognized by Jung, others must be added. Opposite interest-directions can be associated simultaneously with different levels in the same personality. For instance, a man may be predominantly extraverted physically, introverted emotionally and again extraverted mentally. His will can also be extraverted or introverted. Furthermore, another distinction must be made: the direction of the vital interest is subject to two separate “modalities” or attitudes: the active and the passive. Jung mentions this, but does not develop the point, which, in my opinion, has a fundamental importance. A passive extravert, endowed with excessive sensitivity, who succumbs to every external influence and is dominated by the will of others, is very different from an active extravert who tends to dominate things and people, to bend them to his will. In this sense, they are opposite types.
To this must be added the fact that there are two other interest-directions to be recognized and given the utmost consideration; the direction downwards towards the low, which may be called subversion, and that upwards towards the high, or supra-version. Subversion is the tendency to plumb the unconscious in its lower aspects; and it can be said to be the province of “depth psychology” in its more restricted sense (the “descent into hell”) and can be compared to sub-aquatic sport. Freudian psychoanalysis displays an almost exclusive interest in the lower aspects of human nature.
In supra-version, on the other hand, the vital interest and search are directed towards the higher aspects of the psyche, towards the superconscious, towards spiritual experiences. This, in contrast to sub-aquatic sport, can be compared to mountain-climbing. To Jung must be given the credit of having recognized and demonstrated the existence in the human being of the natural tendency towards the high, of a genuine need, which he called instinctive, for spiritual satisfaction. He gave prominence to the fact that the neglect or repression of this need can create serious neuro-psychic and psychosomatic disturbances.
Another, and important, difference is one of quality, which is different from direction. There can be a supra-version of an inferior kind: the dreamer, the passive idealist, the sterile theoretician, the utopian are examples of supra-version of a negative type. There is again a subversion of a superior kind, such as the scientific investigation and exploration of the lower aspects of the unconscious, what could be termed psychological geology and archaeology.
Although I cannot now discuss the pschosynthetic tasks connected with the various directions of the vital interest, I should mention that there are also other psychological types deriving from the differences in the personality “structure”. There are individuals who are relatively coherent, well “shaped”, even rigid. 0n the other hand there are others who are diffuse, continually changeable. Others, again, are habitually contradictory or ambivalent.
All this shows the great complexity of the human psyche and the impossibility of framing or pigeon-holing it in some designation or description arrived at from a single viewpoint. Only the sum of the various points of view, of the different approaches or “frames of reference”, can give a less imperfect conception of the psyche of that strange creature, a member of the fourth kingdom of nature—the human being.
Up to this point I have scarcely mentioned the unconscious. Its existence is by now generally admitted, except by a few psychiatrists and psychologists bound by old conceptions which can be considered outdated. According to Jung, the unconscious is an exclusively psychological concept and includes all the psychic elements, contents and processes not associated with the “I” or Ego in a conscious way. Therefore, Jung maintains, the unconscious has no “personal centre”. This is in agreement with psychosynthesis, which warns against the tendency to make an “entity” of the unconscious, almost a personality, more or less in accord or in contrast with the conscious. “Unconscious”, as I have stressed elsewhere, should be considered an adjective, not a noun, and it indicates a temporary condition of the “psychic contents”, many of which may have been conscious and may become so again.
Jung’s most important contribution to the psychology of the unconscious is represented by his extensive studies of the collective unconscious. Before him, psychoanalysis had concerned itself almost exclusively with the study of the personal unconscious. Jung then showed the great extent of collective psychic elements and forces, which exercise a powerful effect on the human personality. In my diagram* of the constitution of the psyche, the collective unconscious is represented as lying outside the individual psyche. The demarcation line is dotted, to suggest the continuous exchanges going on between the collective and the personal unconscious. The unconscious exists at all levels, in both the personality and the collective psyche.
The collective unconscious is a vast world stretching from the biological to the spiritual level, in which therefore distinctions of origin, nature, quality and value must be made. It should be noted that Jung often disregards these distinctions: he speaks of the collective unconscious en bloc and is inclined to confuse what he terms “archaic”, that is, what originates in the ancient collective human experience, with what is higher (we would say superconscious) and in the spiritual sphere. Thus Jung speaks or “archetypes” as “images”; but at times he describes them as archaic, racial images, charged with a strong emotional tone accumulated during the centuries, and on other occasions he treats them as principles, as “ideas”; and he himself suggests their affinity with the Platonic ideas. In reality, there exists not only a difference but an actual antagonism between these two conceptions of “archetypes”, and from this confusion between them arise various debatable consequences, debatable at the theoretical level and liable to be harmful in therapy, as I shall have occasion to mention in speaking of Jungian therapy. In my opinion, it can be said without disrespect that Jung himself has been dominated by the potent fascination of the collective unconscious, against which he puts his patients on guard.
Jung rightly attaches great importance to symbols and symbolism, to which he devoted much study. He recognized the plurality of meanings associated with one and the same symbol, in contrast to the all too frequent tendency to interpret a symbol in only one way and on the basis of the preconceived theories of whoever interprets it. Jung showed that the same symbol can have different meanings, not only in various individual cases, but also in the same person. He showed, furthermore, that there are regressive and progressive symbols, symbols that relate to the archaic symbolism of the collective unconscious and symbols that indicate the attempts, the efforts to resolve certain problems, to bring about certain developments. Jung says that some symbols are messages from the unconscious (we would say of the superconscious) to the conscious personality, and he frequently utilizes these progressive symbols in his method of treatment.
We come now to an important subject: spirituality and religion. Jung possessed the great merit of recognizing and proclaiming (along with very few modem psychologists) the reality and importance of spiritual needs. He maintained that man has the need to reach an understanding of the meaning of life, to believe it has a value and purpose of a spiritual nature. He ascertained that many neuro-psychic disturbances are rooted in the lack of satisfaction of this need, in its repression. To quote his own words:”…the lack of meaning in life is a soul-sickness whose full extent and full import our time has not yet comprehended.” (Jung, “The Soul and Death,” in Spring, 1945, p. 415) He therefore fully admits the importance of the spiritual factor, and of the religions in so far as they reflect spiritual values and further the satisfaction of spiritual needs.
On the other hand, although Jung had psychic experiences of a high order, there is no evidence that he had the direct experience of a spiritual, metaphysical reality. This can be surmised from his declarations of agnosticism. He insists on a distinction between spiritual consciousness as a subjective state and a presumed metaphysical, transcendental reality; and while he affirms the existence and value of the former, he does not pronounce on the latter. He goes as far as to say that God is a “psychological function” of the individual. He does not categorically deny the possibility of God’s existence, but says its objective reality cannot be demonstrated.
Jung can be coupled in this respect with the great American psychologist William James, who in his lectures on The Varieties of Religious Experience, given at the beginning of this century with considerable courage, advances the possibility and importance of a scientific psychological study of religious experience. James did not have—and he says so—a direct religious experience; and this lack in the case of both James and Jung makes their recognition of the reality and value of the spiritual experience all the more significant. Here is evidence of the true scientific spirit which leads to the admission of the existence of certain realities, if they have been ascertained and documented, even if one has not verified them personally.
Another subject of importance that of the ego and the Self, will be dealt with in the following sections on the therapeutic and educational applications.
Jung is considered a researcher, an explorer of the vast and little known territory of the psyche, but we can add that he was a courageous and brilliant pioneer who opened up new paths and gave new dimensions to the human mind. He contributed greatly to the freeing of psychology from the narrow trammels of a purely descriptive objectivism and expanded immensely its field by demonstrating the existence and the value of the higher psychic functions, of spiritual levels and needs.
Moreover, as we shall see subsequently, he points the way to liberation from the conditioning pressures on the personality and from the powerful influences exerted by the images and structures of the collective unconscious. In this way he gave effective aid in furthering the “individuation” process, the discovery and development of one’s true being, one’s Self.
Lecture 2 -Therapy
A comparative survey of Jung’s therapeutic method and that, or more precisely those, used in psychosynthesis discloses a substantial agreement in respect of the goals aimed at; but also some marked differences in the means and techniques they adopt. One of Jung’s greatest merits has been his opposition to the “pathologism” which still holds almost undisputed sway over official medicine, including psychotherapy. Attention is chiefly directed to morbid manifestations, in particular to the investigation of symptoms and their quantitive evaluation by means of numerous examinations and analyses. The aim is to arrive at the formulation of a diagnosis, that is, giving the illness a “name”. This accomplished, one proceeds to “fight” the disease, often by bringing medicinal “big guns” to bear on it, with little concern for possible damage to healthy tissues and organs. Recently, however, a reaction against excesses of this kind is becoming evident in the ranks of official medical circles. Books and articles have appeared recently that outline physical and psychological disturbances and illnesses produced by the inappropriate use of medication.
A step in the right direction is being taken by a number of doctors, endowed with a humane approach and a sense of relativity, in affirming that, in reality, there are no “diseases” but only “diseased individuals”, in each of whom the same kind of morbid state assumes different characteristics and takes a different course. But up to now only a small minority take this point of view and give it sufficient importance. This represents, moreover, but an initial step, which in itself remains inadequate: we are still in the “pathological” field. The further and decisive advance-which may seem revolutionary-is to start from the “health condition” and regard man as a fundamentally healthy being, in whom some organ may be more or less temporarily damaged or malfunctioning, but whose biological forces are always tending to re-establish harmony, the healthy state. Many symptoms then cease to be thought of as direct expressions of the illness, but are seen as defense reactions of the healthy organism against morbid agents. A typical example of such a defensive reaction is fever; and it is therefore often misguided and even harmful to fight fever with febrifugal remedies.
This “pathologism” of official medicine has been countered by a reaction in favor of the use of “nature cures” on the part of some doctors and many non-medical healers. Unfortunately this reaction not infrequently assumes excessive, sometimes fanatical proportions. Official therapy has had great and undeniable success and saved many lives, and all the good it contains cannot and must not be discarded. Antibiotics afford a good example of this situation: their moderate use in appropriate cases can be of great therapeutic benefit, although their abuse can do a great deal of harm.
Here too the principle of synthesis should be applied. Irreconcilable opposites do not exist; opposing attitudes and methods can be united in a constructive synthesis. The matter could be formulated also in this way: it is not “this or that” but “this and that”; it is a question of finding in every case the right adjustment, the appropriate integration, the synthesis of what seems opposed and is instead complementary.
All this is true also in the field of neuro-psychic disturbances and physical ills of psychological origin (psychosomatic disturbances). Here too, and indeed particularly in this area, the diagnostic label often has a very relative importance. Combinations of symptoms are found which do not lend themselves to being pigeon-holed according to the “diseases” described in psychiatric treatises. Here also there are “defensive structures” erected by the psyche of the patient which must be recognized and not demolished until it is discovered how to replace them with other and better patterns. Practice of psychotherapy is often directed to “fighting” symptoms and disorders and neglects what is healthy and sometimes of higher quality in the patient.
As I have mentioned, Jung reacted vigorously against such “pathologism” and declared: “I prefer to understand man in the perspective of his health.” (Cahen, La Guérison Psychologique, Librairie de l·Université, Georg et Cie, Geneva, p. 180.) Jung’s position here is in complete agreement with the basic principle of psychosynthesis.
Let us now examine in more detail the therapy used by Jung. This survey, however, presents difficulties for various reasons. First of all, Jung openly acknowledged the infinite variety of human beings and conditions, and therefore the necessity of using different psychotherapeutic methods adapted to the constitution and specific situation of each patient. Here is how he puts it: “Seeing that anything in this world, if carried beyond a certain limit, can be pushed to the absurd, the problem of the neuroses and the means of curing them becomes a formidable matter. I am always entertained when clinicians who conduct their affairs admirably, claim to cure by A’s method, or C’s or F’s, or even J’s. Such things do not exist and cannot exist, and if they do occur are well on the way to failure. If I treat Mr. X, I am forced to apply the X method, and with Mrs. Z, the Z method; and this means that the ways and means of treatment are predominantly determined by the nature of the patient.” Here too there is a close agreement with the plurality of psychotherapeutic techniques adopted by psychosynthesis.
Another difficulty arises from the fact that the methods used by Jung were developed and expanded during the many decades of his medical activities, parallel with his increasingly wide and deep experience and with the new ideas and intuitions that presented themselves to his alert and open mind. For these reasons—as well as because of the growing prevalence in his last years of his cognitive interests and psychological investigations over purely therapeutic questions—Jung never wanted to set forth his methods of treatment in any systematized and complete manner.
To fill this gap to some extent, one of Jung’s pupils, Dr. Roland Cahen, has, with great patience and skill, extracted from the mass of Jung’s writings the passages and chapters dealing with therapy and compiled them in La Guérison Psychologique (see above). This work was revised and approved by Jung himself and thus constitutes an authorized exposition.
A preliminary observation of a general nature concerns the actual name of Jungian therapy. He kept to the last the designation “Analytical Psychology”, which he adopted to indicate its derivation from and connection with psychoanalysis. In reality, however, this name does not do justice to the integrative and synthetic tendency which increasingly inspired Jungian therapy. In fact this aims at producing a profound transformation of the personality and its integration by means of what Jung called the “process of individuation”.
But before explaining and examining Jung’s specific method, it should be made clear that, as he said himself, this method must not be used with all patients. There are many, specially among the young, whose disturbances have been produced by psychic traumas, by conflicts rooted in the personal unconscious, or by strife between the individual and other people, above all members of the family and the social environment. Jung maintains that in these cases, treatment mainly psychoanalytical and certain methods that he included in what he called “little therapy” may suffice (see La Guérison Psychologique, p. 239). However, these cases often require also the application of active techniques that Jung neglects.
On the other hand, there is a broad group of patients whose disturbances are the product of crises and deep conflicts of an “existential” kind, which involve fundamental human problems about the meaning and purpose of life in general and about the individual’s own life. It is to be remarked that not infrequently the patient is not aware of these deep-seated causes of his illness, and it is the treatment that renders him conscious of them and then helps him to eliminate them.
The principal aim of Jung’s method, as elaborated by him during the last period of his active work, is the liberation of the individual from the influences of his personal unconscious and of the collective unconscious, by means of a process the phases of which can be indicated as follows:
1. Clear vision, or the above-mentioned recognition of the nature and causes of the illness.
2. Conscious assimilation of the contents of the unconscious.
3. The discovery of the Self.
4. The transformation of the personality.
5. Its integration and synthesis.
From this it is evident how closely what could be called Jung’s “therapeutic program” is akin to that of psychosynthetic therapy.
It is not my intention to describe Jung’s procedures; they can be found amply dealt with in his books and in those of his pupils. He developed a series of profound concepts, sometimes somewhat obscure, about the “shadow”, about certain parts of the unconscious both antithetical and complementary to the conscious personality, which he called “anima” in the man and “animus” in the woman. All this, I repeat, can be found in the books of Jung and his collaborators. I will touch only on some points to emphasize the similarities and differences between these concepts and the techniques of psychosynthesis.
1. Clarification. Jung fosters the patient’s awareness of the contents of the unconscious and their assimilation in his conscious personality by means of dream analysis and free drawing. The analysis of dreams is the basis of psychoanalytic therapy, but this implies their interpretation and here arises a substantial difference between orthodox psychoanalysis and Jungian “analysis”. In psychoanalysis the interpretation tends to “reduce” everything to infantile impressions and traumas, and to instinctive urges. Jung instead, although admitting the existence of dreams of this type, says that there are dreams of very different kinds, particularly those he calls “prospective” or constructive, i.e., dreams containing true messages from the unconscious (I would say from its higher level, the superconscious), which indicate to the conscious personality of the patient certain situations, certain facts, of which he was not aware, and point to the solution of his conflicts and the way leading to integration. In his work, Jung gives many examples of dreams of this type and their interpretation, confirmed by the patient’s recognition and by the curative effects. In reality, dreams fall into many different categories, and one must be on one’s guard against stereotyped interpretations of the “dreambook” variety. But too often therapists succumb to this facile procedure, ignoring the fact that the same symbol can have as many meanings (some of them contradictory) as there are patients. Of this Jung was well aware.
Free drawing provides an excellent means of promoting the emergence of the unconscious and encouraging messages from the superconscious. In this connection, it should be pointed out that the usefulness of free drawing is independent of the artistic value, or lack of it, of the drawing itself. Free drawing is an expression of the unconscious and may be of a rudimentary character; indeed it is easier for the unconscious to ‘give messages’ to someone who has never drawn than to a person with some training and skill in drawing. In the latter case, a concern about form may interfere with and diminish the spontaneity of the unconscious.
Although psychosynthesis makes wide use of these profitable methods, it avails itself also of others that encourage the emergence of the contents of the unconscious. Prominent among them is the presentation of “evocative pictures”, called “T.A.T.” (Thematic Apperception Test) much in use in the United States. It consists of twenty standard designs; but I do not restrict myself to these in using the test, principally because they are negative in character, tending to evoke only complexes and conflicts and not promote the emergence of the higher aspects. Moreover, in view of the great variety of patients, I prefer to use different pictures, adapted to each particular case. Naturally, this precludes the possibility of compiling the statistics beloved of experimental psychologists—which are so often useless.
There is, besides, Desoille’s procedure, the “rêve éveille” (waking dream), which, skillfully used, is very rewarding, not only in stimulating the manifestation of the contents of the unconscious, but also in promoting the therapeutic integration of the personality. A method akin to this is the “Initiated Symbol Projection” of Leuner. In addition to the images in use by these and other methods, I avail myself of a wide variety of symbols chosen for their appropriateness to the type of patient concerned. (See Psychosynthesis-A Manual of Principles and Techniques, pp. 177-191.) Listening to suitable passages of music also yields very good results, because the reactions of the unconscious to music are lively and spontaneous.
2. The entry, not infrequently a veritable irruption, of unconscious elements and tendencies, in particular of the collective unconscious, may produce troubles and sometimes be dangerous, as Jung clearly recognized. Therefore in the practice of psychosynthesis—parallel with the evocation of the “daemons” of the unconscious, and at times even before—active methods are employed to reinforce self-consciousness, the consciousness of the “I” or Ego, and to develop its power of dominating the elements already present and active in the conscious personality. This so important part of psychotherapy is generally neglected. The discovery of the unconscious, the interest in investigation have often deflected therapists from the consideration, of first importance, of the conscious personality and its center, the “I” or Ego. A typical admission of this omission was made-by Emil Gutherl at the American Psychoanalytic Convention at Washington in 1958. Here are his words: “We should recognize that the ego is far more important than has hitherto been acknowledged, but we know almost nothing about it”.
Among the many existing techniques for strengthening the Ego, the development and training of the will is accorded an important place in psychosynthesis. (The will, as I have said elsewhere, can be termed “the unknown factor” in modern psychology.) In addition, specific techniques are used for the activation and “descent” into consciousness of the contents and activities of the higher part of the unconscious, the superconscious.
3. We come now to the really central point—the discovery of the Self. Here we must make clear how Jung’s conception of the Self differs from that of psychosynthesis. For Jung it is an “intermediate point” in which the conscious and the unconscious meet. (See Jacobi: The Psychology of Carl C. Jung.) He considers it an “archetypal figure” and states: “From the intellectual point of view, the Self is none other than a psychological concept, a construction aimed at expressing an essence, imperceptible and inconceivable as such, because it surpasses our comprehension.” And later he says: “The idea of a Self is in itself a transcendent postulate justifiable solely from the psychological point of view and without possibility of scientific proof.” (Quoted from Depth Psychology by A. Farau and H. Shaffens. p. 116.)
Psychosynthesis, on the other hand, regards the Self as a reality, rather as a living Entity, direct and certain knowledge or awareness of which can be had. In other words, it can be defined as one of those “immediate data of consciousness” (to use Bergson´s expression) which have no need of demonstration but bear with them their own evidence—as happens in the case of ethical conscience, aesthetic experience and the experience of the will. There is a considerable body of testimony in support of this. Here, out of many, is the significant contribution of Father Gratry:
“We possess an ‘inner sense’ which at special times when we succeed in interrupting the habitual flow of distractions and passions gives us direct and clear knowledge of our Soul…I used to experience an inner form, full of strength, beauty and joy, a form of light and fire which sustained my entire being; stable, always the same, often recaptured during my life; forgotten at intervals, but always recognized with infinite delight and the exclamation, “Here is my real Being·.” (La Connaissance de l'Ame)
Others emphasize in their testimony the universal aspect of the consciousness of the Self. Hermann Keyserling, for instance, writes: “That which is deeper, more substantial than the individual is never the ‘general’, but the ‘universal’: and the ‘universal’ expresses itself precisely through the individual, and the latter becomes more universal in the measure in which he becomes deeper.” (Problems of Personal Life, p.167). We have here an example of the “coincidentia oppositorum”, of the fact that terms which rationally, according to Aristotelian logic, appear to be opposites are not mutually exclusive. Life is a continual synthesis of opposites; even biological life incorporates a delicate equilibrium (homeostasis) between antagonistic systems.
The twofold aspect, individual and universal, of the Self is indicated in the diagram below of man’s psychic structure by the position of the “star”, which is partially outside the periphery of the individual psyche and partially within it. The former indicates the union of the Self with transcendent or ontological Reality, the universal Self; the latter the relationship with the individual superconscious. The Ego, or conscious “I”, is an emanation from or projection of the Self and can become aware of it in various ways and degrees, can identify itself more or less completely and temporarily with the Self.
There is, I repeat, no conflict between these two aspects of the Self: far from opposing each other, they integrate with each other. As an Oriental writer has lucidly put it: “No identity (i.e., self-awareness) can exist without universality, and there is no consciousness of the universal without individual realization.” Poets sometimes have intuitions that reach beyond intellectual concepts. An Italian poet, Carducci, had a vivid experience of this fusion and expressed it admirably in a stanza of his Cantico dell·Amore (Song of Love):
“Is it I who embrace the world, or from within
The Universe that reabsorbs me in itself?
Ah, it was a note of the eternal poem I heard
And sought to echo in this little verse.”
The poet is not aware how it has happened, whether the “I” has become expanded into the universe or the universal life has incorporated him in itself. Furthermore, he is aware of the difficulty of expressing this experience, this state of consciousness, and of the inadequacy of any verbal formulation (“this little verse”).
An examination of the varying proportions of the individual and universal aspects in these experiences would prove very interesting. Here I will mention only that in experiences of a mystical, intuitive type, the universal aspect is predominant, that is, the invasion of the consciousness by a wider Reality. On the other hand, in experiences gained through psycho-spiritual training, in which the consciousness seeks to rise to the Self and achieves a momentary union with It, the sense of self-consciousness remains uppermost. The individual continues to feel “present” and active, while participating in a far wider type of consciousness.
4. Let us now examine the phases of the transformation of the personality and its integration. According to Jung, they constitute an essentially spontaneous process, which, however, can be fostered by the “catalytic” presence of the therapist and the human relationship with him. Jung accords special importance to this relationship, which he calls “transference”. The Jungian concept of the transference is neither clear nor unequivocal, and it altered in the course of the years. He himself states in the “Conclusion” of his book The Psychology of the Transference: “The problematic character of the transference is so complex and many-sided that I lack the categories needed to offer a systematic exposition of it.” (p. 171) He has thus preferred to deal with it through a commentary and interpretation of an alchemical text, the Rosarium Philosophorum, the symbolism of which appears extremely complicated and obscure, and in which Jung himself finds contradictions.
In psychosynthesis the problem of building good relations between patient and therapist is rendered easier—or shall we say less difficult—by the therapist’s not only pointing out and suggesting to the patient, as Jung does, the goal of his “individuation”, but encouraging and educating him from the outset to practice active methods of acquiring an increasingly clear self-consciousness, the development of a strong will and the mastery and right use of his impulsive emotional, imaginative and mental energies, and to avail himself of all means of gaining independence of the therapist.
In spite of the variety and complexity of relationships created between patient and therapist, in the practice of psychosynthesis one can distinguish four principal ones; and each is utilized, directed and regulated with the cure and well-being of the patient in view:
a. The transference—in the strict sense originally attributed to it by Freud, i.e., the “projection” onto the doctor of the patient’s impulses, attachments and emotions felt in childhood towards his parents. These attitudes can be positive (loving) or negative (hostile). The projections have to be analyzed and dissolved. Here there is agreement between Jungian therapy, psychoanalysis and psychosynthesis.
b. The specific relationship created by what may be termed the therapeutic situation. In it the therapist represents and exercises an essentially “paternal” function. He must, to some extent, take on the role and task of protector, counselor and guide. In dream symbolism, says Jung, he frequently appears under the aspect of the “wise old man” and corresponds to what the Indians call “guru”. This relationship is very different from the unconscious projection that happens in the transference. It is conscious, factual, real.
1. Conscious self or “I”
2. External unifying center
3. Higher Self
It is indicated in the diagram by the star outside the psyche of the subject, which acts as a link or bridge between his ego and his Self. When the ego fails to reach consciousness of the Self directly, “vertically”, it can be effectively helped by the therapist who represents for the patient some. one in touch with his own Self and therefore becomes a “model”, or even a “catalyst”.
c. A human relationship which is developed as the treatment proceeds and creates psychological reactions at various levels and of different kinds. A detailed examination of this cannot be entered into on this occasion; I may say only that the therapist’s delicate and difficult task is to maintain this relationship within proper limits and, one might say, “at a high level”, assenting to its positive or constructive aspects, but resisting the attachments, demands, pretences and attempts to monopolize on the part of the patient. It can be done with firmness coupled with tact and kindness, and the patient made to understand how these attitudes, while they may provide temporary gratification, are in reality harmful to him.
The transition from the second to the third type of relationship is valuable, even indispensable, for a variety of reasons; above all to promote the patient’s growing autonomy, then to eliminate the tendency, rooted in moral laziness, to lean on someone else, unload his own responsibilities and get himself led by the hand; further, to prevent the crisis of the patient’s discovering human imperfections in his mentor and helper—it happens easily, one might say inevitably! —and disappointedly switching from excessive admiration and obedience to criticism and hostility equally excessive.
d. The resolution of the relationship at the conclusion of the treatment. This is a critical point and needs to be handled with wisdom. I have said “resolution” and not termination of the relationship, because the conclusion of the treatment can frequently happen very gradually and almost imperceptibly, and also because the positive relationship can continue afterwards in some form, either as a friendship or collaboration, or both. Often the cured patient is able to understand and help other ill people better than the so-called healthy. In this way the improved patient can, even before being completely cured, collaborate and maintain a constructive association with his doctor.
These patient relationships, and in general the whole therapeutic process, demand adequate training on the part of the therapist, not merely scientific and technical, but above all humane and spiritual. Jung was well aware of this need and expressed it explicitly. Here is a statement of his on this point: “The recent development of analytical psychology…gives a prominent place to the personality of the doctor himself as a curative or harmful factor, and demands the inner perfecting of the doctor, the self-education of the educator.”
Jung therefore strongly insists on the necessity of a didactic analysis; in other words, whoever intends to practice psychotherapy must submit himself to a psychological analysis by another psychotherapist. In fact, says Jung, “the doctor will not spot in the patient what he does not see in himself, or will be unduly influenced by it.” (La Guérison Psychologique, p. 237.) Psychosynthesis is fully in agreement on this point. Two things are worth noting: the first, that when the didactic psychosynthesis cannot be managed, the therapist should put himself through an “autopsychosynthesis”. It may be recalled that a non-”orthodox”, psychoanalyst, Karen Homey, is in agreement here, as evidenced by her book Self-analysis (N.Y.: Norton, 1942.) But she restricts herself to the limits imposed by psychoanalysis and does not enter the field of psychosynthesis or take into account the higher elements of the psyche.
In psychosynthesis, on the other hand, the therapist can avail himself of a greater number of aids, in the form of active techniques, which he can apply to himself and experiment with. I would say that every one of us, but in particular every therapist and every educator, can be considered a “living laboratory”, in which the “occupant” is “experimenting” for twenty-four hours a day (as this includes dreams). Moreover, it is not indispensable that either didactic psychosynthesis or autopsychosynthesis be concluded before beginning psycho-therapeutic practice. The need in this field is so urgent and wide that anyone willing to devote himself to it should do so as soon as his training permits, even if lacking in some aspects. His equipment must, however, include a critical sense and humility sufficient to recognize his own deficiencies, and the goodwill to eliminate them. In fact, autopsychosynthesis, like education, should be a lifetime occupation.
Lecture 3- Therapy and Education
The transformation of the personality and its integration or psychosynthesis—apart from the transference process—often occur spontaneously, or, as Jung maintains, as a result of the creative and synthesizing action 0f the symbols that emerge from the unconscious. Jung does not advise the active intervention in this process either of the therapist or of the will of the Ego, the conscious “I”.
Psychosynthetic therapy—while fully recognizing the importance of the spontaneous processes of self-healing and the integrative function of symbols—proves that these processes can be promoted and effectively assisted by the co-operation of the conscious personality. This action is performed by what constitutes the center, the dynamic element, that is, the conscious and active subject, using his will.
The necessity for such active co-operation is based on two reasons. The first, already mentioned, is to contain and control the energies erupting from the unconscious, and then to promote their transmutation, sublimation and constructive application. This particularly applies to sexual, emotional and aggressive tendencies and energies, which lead to the intensification of those already present in the conscious personality. The importance of this part of the treatment is evident, as is that of the knowledge and use of the active methods for its implementation. These methods can be widely applied in education and autopsychosynthesis as well, and should be generally made known and practiced.
The second reason for active co-operation in achieving the integration, the synthesis, of the personality lies in the advantage, sometimes indeed the necessity, of developing, by means of active training, the psychic functions that have remained at primitive, infantile levels, paralyzed by devaluation or inhibited by repression. In modern man, engrossed in his interests and practical concerns—often with a one-sided development of the intellectual function—the higher feelings, aesthetic sensitivity, the capacity to commune with nature and the ability to establish human communication with others are often lacking or have atrophied. In other people, instead, emotional and imaginative exuberance relegates to an inferior position mental, and sometimes also practical, activity. There are still other cases, to which Jung draws attention, in which the higher aspirations and needs are ignored, underestimated or feared, and thus neglected or repressed. One of Jung’s most valuable contributions is his having called the attention of psychotherapists to these cases and encouraged in his medical work the expression and satisfaction of these spiritual needs.
But further advance can be made along the road opened by him. The irruption of the superconscious spiritual contents and energies can be actively assisted. As mentioned above, in many cases-indeed I believe in most of them—an active training is required to eliminate, or at least attenuate, the lack of balance in the development of the various psychological functions. This assistance is of particular importance in enabling the conscious “I” to contain and assimilate the irrupting superconscious energies and to integrate them harmoniously into the totality of the psychic life.
The use of the active techniques can and should be promoted by the therapist. I have said “promoted”, since it is not incumbent upon him to teach and apply them personally. He can avail himself of the services of competent assistants, entrusting the patient to their respective competencies, but always controlling and guiding the treatment according to a well-defined program, and encouraging the patient to learn to carry it on by himself as soon as possible.
The techniques amount to some dozens, and I will enumerate only the principal groups:
I. Psycho -physical techniques
1. Exercises in relaxation.
2. Concentration on and awareness of physical sensations, including the muscular (methods of Vittoz, Schultz, etc.).
3. Exercises in neuro-muscular co-ordination—Rhythmic movements and dancing.
4. Physical activities of various kinds.
6. Drawing, painting and modeling.
7. Playing musical instruments.
II. Psychological techniques
3. Evocation of auditory, tactile, olfactory, etc., “images”.
4. Mental exercises—Meditation, etc.
III. Psycho-spiritual techniques These fall into two groups:
1. Those which promote the elevation of the “I” or Ego, the center of self-consciousness, to levels usually superconscious and towards union with the spiritual Self.
2. Those which promote the opening of the consciousness to the “descending” inflow of the contents and energies of the superconscious.
The choice of the techniques to be used in therapy must be determined by the requirements of each individual case. They should be combined and alternated according to a plan or program that is intended to promote the gradual and harmonious integration of the personality. This program gives psychosynthetic therapy and education its specific character. I have included psychosynthetic education, because the greater part of the techniques enumerated can, with appropriate adaptations and modifications, be applied effectively in educational practice, in the family as well as in school.
This brings us to the consideration of Jung’s ideas on education. Though he did not concern himself directly and actively with the educational application of his conceptions, his writings on the subject contain much 0f interest and value. As far back as 1910 Jung published an essay on Conflicts of the Infantile Mind, in which—on the basis of a series of accurate observations on the psychological development of a 4-5-year old child—he ably examined various problems that arise in the infantile mind and must therefore be tackled by parents. These problems concern the birth of children, the contrast between imagination and thought, the effective relations with parents, etc. The various Prefaces to the successive editions and the Appendix contain some wise observations on the relative and complementary features of various points of view and interpretations in psychology. These are supplemented by useful advice on how to teach and explain to children the facts about sexuality. Later Jung elaborated his educational ideas and experiences within the general framework of his psychological conceptions in a series of lectures, which have been published under the title Analytical Psychology and Education in the volume Contributions to Analytical Psychology (London: Harcourt Brace, 1928). Jung summarizes his ideas in the following statement:
“The difference between this and any former psychology lies in the fact that analytical psychology does not avoid dealing with admittedly complex mental phenomena, such as the four main functions of orientation: thinking, feeling, intuition, and sensation. We admit that we do not know what these functions really are. We should like very much to know into what primitive elements feeling, for instance, could be resolved. But despite our ignorance of ultimate principles, we deal with these functions as if they were clearly definable organs of the mind. Another difference is the method of investigation. We have no academic laboratory. Our laboratory is the world. Our tests are real events of daily human life and the persons we test are our patients, relatives, friends, and—last but not least—ourselves. There are no needle pricks, artificial shocks, surprise-lights, or any of the manifold paraphernalia of laboratory experiment; but there are the pains and joys, the terrors and achievements of real life that provide us with our material. Our method is the understanding of life as represented in the psyche of men.” (Contributions to Analytical Psychology, p. 348)
Jung, as we have seen, not only attaches great importance to the human relationship between patient and therapist, but also considers the psychological rapport between parents and children and between teachers and pupils as having decisive significance. For this reason the educator must acquire a clear awareness that his psychological ignorance and deficiencies, his own complexes and conflicts, inevitably produce injurious repercussions upon those he wishes to educate. He should therefore recognize the heavy responsibility he bears and his duty to train himself for his noble but arduous task by means of an adequate self-education, founded upon the discoveries and methods of the new dynamic psychology.
On this point, Jung has expressed himself thus: “It is of course quite impossible that parents should have no complexes at all: that would be superhuman. But they should deal with them consciously, they should make it a duty to work them out for the sake of their children. They should not evade their troubles, and try to repress them in order to avoid painful discussions.” (ibid., p. 375)
The specific applications of Jung’s ideas and method of education do not lend themselves to being summarized. The way he puts them into practice in the cases on which he reports should be studied, and this can be done in the above-mentioned book. Furthermore, one of Jung’s pupils, Dr. Frances Wickes, has written an excellent book on child psychology, for which Jung himself provided an extensive Introduction. Its title is The Inner World of Childhood (New York: Appleton-Century-Croft; 1927) and it contains much valuable advice on the education of children, in particular on the problems of parental influence on the child. In a chapter of special interest and originality, the author deals with an aspect of the psychic life of the child that is little known—his creation of imaginary companions.
At a conference on education in Basel in 1942, Jung delivered a lecture on The Gifted Child. Its subject is of much importance and present interest in view of the growing consideration being given to the recognition and education of gifted and particularly gifted children. The value of Jung’s essay is enhanced by the description of his own personal experiences and hardships as a “boy of talent”, and therefore deserves being quoted at some length. Here is Jung’s lively and amusingly written account of his scholastic vicissitudes:
“When I was a schoolboy of ten, I did not feel at all sleepy or stupid. I was often exceedingly bored when the master used to take particular pains with pupils unable to follow. But the boredom was by no means the worst part. Among our many composition themes, which were hardly inspiring, we were once given one that interested me. I set to with enthusiasm and polished my sentences with the utmost care. In the joyous anticipation of having written the best composition, or at least one of the best, I handed it to the teacher. After giving back the compositions, it was his custom to discuss first the best, and then the others in order of merit. Mine was not the first, nor the second, and not even the third.
All the others preceded mine, and when he had finished discussing the last effort, the weakest of them all, the teacher inflated himself in a threatening and ominous manner and delivered his verdict: “Jung’s composition is by far the best but he has ruined it by triviality and lack of thought. For this reason it does not merit a place in the list· “It’s not true,· I interrupted the teacher, ‘I’ve never worked so hard on a composition as I did on this. ‘It’s a lie,· he shouted. ‘Look at X (X was the pupil who had produced the worst composition); he has really taken trouble. He’ll get ahead in life, but you no, because one doesn’t succeed with ability and tricks! ·
I said nothing, and from that moment on I did no more work in my German class. “This experience, it is true, dates from more than a half-century ago, and I do not doubt that in the meantime school conditions have greatly changed and improved. But that episode gave me much to think about and left me with a sense of bitterness, which, however, with broader experience of life has given place to a more balanced assessment. I understood how, deep down, the master’s attitude had been prompted by the noble principle of helping the weak and eradicating the bad.
Sometimes, however, it unfortunately happens that these principles get turned into mechanical rules, which, in their turn, get accepted without further consideration and give birth to deplorable caricatures of the good of this sort. The weak are helped and the bad is fought in this way, it is true, but at the same time the danger of neglecting the more gifted individual is exposed. It is as if emergence from the ranks were in itself an awkward and troublesome affair. There’s nothing to be done about it; the average man distrusts and is suspicious of all his intelligence cannot grasp. ‘Ii est. trop intelligent’- a phrase that justifies the direst suspicions!” (pp. 135-137)
Jung rightly deplores this pseudo-humanitarian concept and false conception of democracy. “The desire to bring all people to the same level and reduce them to the status of sheep by suppressing the natural aristocratic or hierarchical structure (in the psycho-spiritual sense, be it well noted) leads infallibly, sooner or later, to a catastrophe.” (pp. 144-145)
Jung then adds some valuable observations on the difficulties of recognizing and educating talented children. “The problem of the gifted child,” he writes, “is in no way a simple matter, since he is not recognizable merely by the fact of his being a good scholar. In certain cases indeed he is the very reverse. He may even be aggravatingly distinguishable by his special brand of absent-mindedness, with his head full of nonsense, by his laziness, negligence, lack 0f attention, rudeness, obstinacy and by giving the impression of being only half awake. Judging only by superficial observation, it is often hard to tell a talented child apart from a weak-minded one. Moreover, it must not be forgotten that gifted children are not always precocious but apt to develop slowly, so that their gifts may remain latent for a long time.” (pp. 137-138)
Jung draws attention to and shows the importance of what he calls the gifts of the heart: “In addition to the gifts of the head, there exist also those of the heart, which are no less important, but of which it is easy to be unaware, because often in these cases the head is weaker than the heart. And yet people of this sort are frequently more useful and valuable to the well-being of society than those with different gifts.” (p. 141)
“Gifted children come up against complications not only in the intellectual but also in the moral field, i.e., in the sphere of feelings. Adults who frequently distort the truth, tell lies and commit innumerable other sins of moral negligence can create problems in a morally gifted child that upset him a great deal. In precisely the same way that one fails to notice or undervalues intellectual sensitivity and precocity, one adopts similar attitudes towards a talented child’s criticism in moral and emotional situations. Often the gifts of the heart are less evident and striking than the intellectual and technical ones; and just as the latter have the right to exact special understanding from the educator, so the former also call for the best of which he is capable; in other words, they demand that he himself be educated.” (p. 140)
Finally, Jung calls attention to the lack of balance and to the contradictions existing in gifted children and to the dangers of their gifts being used in antisocial and destructive ways. He writes: “There are not a few talented individuals whose usefulness is paralyzed, even perverted often, by their human shortcomings in all other fields. Talent has no real value of itself; it only has it if the rest of the personality is capable of following its lead to the point where it can be applied to advantage. Unfortunately, creative ability can exhibit itself equally effectively in a destructive direction as well. Whether it is directed towards the good or the bad is decided solely by the moral attitude of the personality.” (p. 142)
In connection with the education of these children, Jung raises the problem whether they should be brought together in special schools or left in normal ones. He favors the second alternative, but does not go into the various aspects of the problem. I have discussed this subject in a pamphlet The Education of Gifted and Super-gifted Children (New York: Psychosynthesis Research Foundation).
Education is a form of interindividual relationship; let us therefore examine the problems and methods of interindividual and social relationships, from Jung’s standpoint and that of psychosynthesis. In practice, the goal or ultimate phase of Jungian therapy is Individuation. I say “in practice”, because Jung admits that (to quote his own words) “the actual process of individuation carries with it an awareness of what the human community is…Individuation presupposes a unification with oneself and therefore with humanity, of which everyone carries a particle within him.” (La Guérison Psychologique, p. 228) “The single individual,” reiterates Jung, “does not live his life to the full and fails to grasp its purpose, if he is incapable of putting his ‘I’ at the service of a spiritual and superhuman order.” (p. 145)
Jung, however, limits himself to these allusions which indicate an aspiration more than an effective move in that direction. His method is not designed to actively help the patient to initiate and to “live” that communion with other human beings. Rather he insists strongly on the opposition, indeed the conflict, between the individual and the mass, between the personal life and the collective pressure exercised by modern social life. This is mechanized and regimented, not solely materially but also psychologically, as evidenced by the mass ideologies, the pressure to conform, the suggestion and “persuasion” of advertising and various forms of propaganda. Jung shares this position with a number of other critics of modern life: philosophers, sociologists and psychologists, among whom Erich Fromm is outstanding.
There is, unfortunately, a great deal of truth in all this, but that rigid and extreme opposition appears to be one-sided and too absolute. We must recognize that the individual and the mass are included in the extensive sphere of human relations, forming part of the normal life of man, who is, in his inner nature as well as from external necessity, a being both social and sociable. It is indeed true that these human relationships are far from being easy, harmonious and constructive. We can observe this all the time. Apart from mass pressures, human relationships come up against many difficulties. Those who are predominantly introverted find it difficult to create psychological relations with others, to communicate “humanly.” The predominantly extraverted, on the other hand, establish a wide network of relationships, but these are superficial, incidental, so that in reality the individual remains psychologically and spiritually isolated.
The difficulties and conflicts in human relations are due in large measure to an excessive tendency to self-assertion and over-valuation of success in the external world. This leads to the depreciation or repression of the higher feelings, and the capacity for loving understanding, compassion, altruistic love. The revaluation and active development of these feelings thus become a necessity. There are, as I have said previously, effective methods of doing this, and the therapist and educator should consider one of their most important tasks to be the fostering of the awakening and expression of those feelings.
The first step is the recognition and proper appreciation of the human and higher values. One effective practice to this end is the study of the inspiring lives of those who have exemplified these values—the heroes, the saints, the great humanitarians. But many of them, far more than one might suppose, are to be found among simple and humble people, as the “awards for kindness” (which should be greatly extended) have demonstrated.
The second step is to arouse and foster goodwill. There are several ways of doing so; and a particularly effective one is direct contact with human suffering, and this can be obtained by visits to, and, better still, active help in hospitals, prisons, city slums, and visiting and helping lonely individuals—particularly old people. Also there is co-operation in creative and socially useful activities, in which the group spirit and solidarity are developed, and understanding and friendships established.
There is a series of methods with which I cannot deal now; I will merely enumerate them:
I. Preliminary methods: Elimination of obstacles: egocentricity; separative self-assertion; hostility and combativeness; prejudices and preconceptions.
II.Positive methods: Understanding; generosity; goodwill; altruistic love.
Help in achieving interpersonal and group psychosynthesis (also called interindividual and social psychosynthesis) forms an important, indeed an indispensable part of psychosynthetic therapy and education. It can be justly maintained that our civilization is neurotic and ill-balanced, and that there exist real group neuroses and psychoses; for instance, national glorification and ideological fanaticism. Therefore psychotherapy
should include and undertake these more comprehensive tasks, for which it is well equipped. Every sick individual who is helped to establish right human relations becomes an element of balance and health in his community; and inversely, every effort aimed at adjusting unbalance and collective psychoses makes it easier for the single individual to reach and maintain his personal health.
Thus the tasks and activity of therapists, educators and all who, in different fields and ways, devote themselves to the healing of social ills converge and unite in a double purpose. The first and urgent one is to safeguard humanity from the dangers its blindness and folly have created for itself. The second, to promote the coming of a new and better civilization, in which the individual can, in freedom and for the good of all, give expression to and make the most of the wonderful potentialities inherent in each human being.