CONVERSATION HELD AFTER THE 1st LESSON FROM DR. ROBERTO ASSAGIOLI
Debate March 9th 1974, Translated by Gordon Symons from Dibattito-del -9-marzo-1974
Q. – In your opinion, Professor, does a father or mother have the right to read the private diary of a son or a 15-year-old daughter, if it’s against their will?
R. – No.
Q. – There was actually a case of a boy or girl who committed suicide, about two years ago, because his father had read his diary. It is a case similar to what he said.
R. – Definitely not! If the son or daughter writes a secret diary, it means that the parents have not been able to communicate, so it is psychological violence. Done with the best of intentions and believing to do good, but it is a mistake, it is completely wrong. This error shows up again and again.
D. – So there is a “diritto alla privacy”.
R. – Certainly there is a right in this sense, I don’t know how it can be better translated into Italian, as all our current civilization is against privacy, the press, the communists, brutally intervene in the intimacy of people and families. Now this is a thing which I would even call shameful. It’s as if […] and as such it should not enter families: the right to intimacy is the first right of a human being, of a person at any age.
D. – But are there families where abuses are carried out, abuses in the pedagogical sense, in the sense of education?
R. – Such as?
D. – Such as violence against boys; abuse of authority and other such things.
R. – This is the norm. I have just mentioned that there have been few exceptions.
D. – Yes, but if it is not possible to intervene within the family, then these children will be defenceless.
R. – No, precisely, and the wisdom lies in balancing the two attitudes, always respecting the person. What one can do and I haven’t had time to say is this: talk serenely with your son and say: “Look, there is a law in the world of cause and effect, that is, if you create a debt, then you will have to repay it with interest. Let’s take an example: if you conduct yourself in this way, this and this will probably happen to you; if you conduct yourself in another way, this, this and this will probably happen. Think about it and do whichever you choose.”You see, it is the whole approach to children, to young people, who do not realize this life process, of this chain of influences, and so they act on impulse. So, making them think about the effects of what they do and say is already a lot. The moment will come when they react, but then they will think again.
They realize it because life teaches them, confirmation comes from life. But not from authority. It automatically transpires through the law of cause and effect.
Q. – Adults often experience a fear of speaking, of communicating: how can that be managed?
R. – Precisely because people cannot communicate psychologically and spiritually at any age. It’s something that does not exist in our civilization – long speeches can be made without communicating at all. And also, the adult is afraid of losing his authority, of falling off his pedestal, of lowering himself. This is absolutely wrong, but it doesn’t seem to matter. It is about an “I” – “thou” relationship of one human being with another human being. Therefore, education in communication.
D. – What is man’s pain for?
H. – Pain? That’s a very interesting question but it would take us in another direction and it’s better to stay on the topic. Perhaps we can respond on another occasion.
D. – Man’s greatest problem is still that of knowing himself. Philosophy and then psychology and psychosynthesis have this highly moral and social task; therefore the duty of the individual is to know himself in order to make himself known to others.
R. – That is absolutely right. It is an absolute rule and in fact I had prepared some notes to say something on that subject, but it would have gone too long. But evidently the first communication to be made is between the various parts of ourselves: learning to communicate within ourselves. Now, modern psychology has shown that there are various different and very often conflicting subpersonalities in each of us. So first of all, there is a relationship to be created within us, because if our actions are ambivalent or trivalent, one part of us says go one way, another part says go another and we get stuck in this internal conflict. But that’s why all psychosynthesis hinges on this. The first lesson of the 1st Course is human multiplicity, it seems to me, internal multiplicity.
D. – Must this inner conflict be subjective or objective, in the sense that it must be only for one’s own self-awareness or must it also reflect on social relationships? In my opinion, the duty of each individual is not only to know himself but also to make himself known, this is the point; otherwise, they become useless, passive secrets for everyone else.
R. – It has been said that it is the duty of the individual to know and make himself known, and this is right; but it is the individual who freely, spontaneously makes himself known, recognizing pain, and not forced. After all, when we try to get to know ourselves because of force, we cannot know ourselves because we close or create a persona, which very often happens, but in defending many create a social character, or the role they play in social life, the character of his function, and then they become a prisoner of this character, who is no longer a human being who directs himself, but he himself becomes an object of an anonymous structure. So you need to make yourself known but in a genuine way and not forced by others. That is, create a completely different consciousness.
D. – Someone would like to know what this manifestation of authenticity is, because everyone would like to make themselves known, because I think that the most subjective is objective at best, because you need to know everyone in order to know yourself after.
R – Sorry, I refer to the first part of your question. What is the genuine way to express oneself to exteriorise oneself? We would like a model of this genuineness of expression, above all of one’s transpersonal Self.
R. – Certainly the genuineness of expression of one’s transpersonal Self in the highest form, but for now there are few who know how or want to do that. So we remain in the middle field of the intelligent and psychologically functional person. Models are useful but dangerous precisely because they can influence. Of course, the ideal model which is not formed spontaneously and which one tries to achieve is one of the techniques of psychosynthesis, but it must not be rigid; life flows, new experiences and new situations arise, then even the model must adapt, we do not say conform, a dirty word, but adapt, or be adapted to the new situation. We always see that life is fluid, it is a creative process, nothing is static and therefore everything must flow and conform to it. This is the great Taoist principle of being in harmony with the flow of life.
Q. – Excuse me, is the psychoanalyst’s couch, be it Freudian, Jungian, etc., a valid model for expression?
R. – One cannot give a general answer, but the Freudian one is the most artificial one, it creates a too artificial situation in which there is no communication. The therapist does not communicate. In Adler’s there is much more communication precisely because Adler was much more human and understanding and tried to dismantle that which is self-affirmation, in order to create a social conscience. As for Jung, the discussion is more complex. Jung did not use the sofa, Jung used the interview, so Jung sought genuine relationships, but he emphasized above all the unconscious contents and this is right because you need to know your unconscious and be helped to know it. But in this, like all pioneers, the conscious side cannot have been realized enough. Now in psychosynthesis we try to take both into account, all the relationships of the deep, but also the psychology of the conscious, the conscious personality that knows how to want and that knows how to decide. This is found in humanistic psychology in general and Maslow does it very well. Thank you, and I hope that some trace of what I said will remain.