Assagioli is here discussing psychosomatic reactions, miraculous healing, the clients will-to-healing or not, when to let go of one’s children and will and responsibility are intertwined.
Original title; Debate, from Archivio Assagioli – Florence, translated from Italian by Gordon Symons
As usual, what was offered here was a general panorama, as it is necessary to have a general overview in order to then study and frame many particular aspects.
X. – You talked about blood pressure that increases if there is an emotion. However, I have found that blood pressure can also decrease due to emotion, and it does not always increase.
R.A. – Yes, yes, quite right.
X. – Also, the drop in blood pressure, I have heard, can give rise to thrombosis, to apoplectic strokes: it is the same thing.
R.A. – The sudden drop in pressure, the same stimulus can have different, indeed opposite effects on different individuals. Or to put it very simply, the same stimulus can produce fears and flight in one and in another irritation and violent reaction. The greatest difficulty in medicine consists precisely in the diversity of reactions of the subjects – which can also be opposite – towards any therapy, including chemical ones.
W. – The observations we have listened to give us reflections on what by the Church are currently defined as miracles, in relation to healings allegedly due to acts of faith. Now I do not exclude that some of these healings may be due to the effective intervention of other entities, of other substances, I do not exclude this, but in part it may also be that these healings are simply due to psychological effects of the will to heal. Now this raises two questions, namely: to what extent we can speak of miracles; and then, in the event that these miraculous events – which are not – are widespread, the fact that religion is thus brought back to another sphere, that is, religion at this point is no longer a power that comes from the outside to act on us, to punish or reward us.
R.A. – Please, let us not enter the religious field because this is completely outside the scientific study that we want to do here, and psychosynthesis must be kept strictly in a scientific field. What I can say is this: as you have seen, the superconscious and the spiritual Self are in contact with what is called the collective unconscious and its higher spheres, that is, with mystery, and therefore nothing is detected in scientific psychosynthesis as mentioned, but this is not its field. Everything is possible: the flows that come from Mystery can act on the Superconscious and from this on the body, but the field […] is already vast enough, a part of it is already avant-garde so that it can deal with this part also.
Y. – When we talked about the individual’s conception of life, at a certain moment, we saw that there are people who have an attitude of denial and self-destruction. I am asking if the attitude of these people is a pathological attitude.
R.A. – In relation to what can be considered normal and what can be considered pathological, I believe that in a deep sense it is normal and spontaneous to adhere to life. Simple people, practical and even materialistic young people adhere to life, accept the rules of the game, so to speak, and therefore in this sense it can be said that the normal and natural one is the positive attitude towards life, and therefore all the opposite negative and pessimistic attitudes cannot be said to be truly normal. I would say that these generally depend on complexes, reactions, or negations.
But if instead we consider the normal understood in a statistical sense, that is what the great majority does, then unfortunately this is very normal, because the vast majority actually take on a negative attitude towards life. So it depends on what you consider […] is the attachment to life. Otherwise one could say that the vast majority of humanity is sick, and I am of this opinion; on closer inspection, we see that the asylum is located outside the walls of the psychiatric hospitals no less than inside them, otherwise, the world would not go on as it goes.
Y. – Sometimes there is a conformist attitude to these forms of pessimism about life.
R.A. – It is fashionable, I would almost say that it is customary – in a certain period of adolescence – to adopt a negative romantic attitude, but this is a very dangerous and pathological thing.
Y. – That, I call it conformism. Instead, going deeper into the type of work I do, I thank you because today I had wonderful indications, and I realize that those who really have this sense of self-destruction and denial are deeply ill in spirit and body.
R.A. – This confirms what we said […] precisely because of the existence of the various elements in the upper unconscious. And here I would like to draw attention to a very important psychological fact, namely ambivalence, in which a part of us takes an attitude, and another part takes on the opposite one. Sometimes this oscillation between these two extremes is conscious, but in other cases it is not. Returning to the topic we have discussed before, there are patients who say they want to heal, who ask for medicines, but who do not want to heal deep down, either by attachment to the disease and the benefits it gives, or by discouragement: and therefore consciously they want to heal, and subconsciously not. While others on the contrary apparently seem not to care very much about taking that cure, but deep within them something wants to heal, and they heal. So, ambivalence must always be taken into account. Very often then this same ambivalence also occurs in interpersonal relationships, in relationships with another person, in the form of attraction-repulsion, or affection and hostility. It’s all somewhat complicated.
Y. – A very important form seems to me to be that of asking for help, to seek it, and once they have it, to refuse it, because it is not the help they want.
RA. – This was also discussed in my essay on Jung, that is, the doctor’s attitude towards the patient, and his gradual withdrawal, which is what every educator should do, especially parents towards children. That is, to begin by giving the maximum help, and then wisely withdrawing it slowly, until it allows them to fly with their own wings; and this requires a lot of wisdom. Very often this withdrawal comes too late, that is, when an active rebellion has already occurred, and the young man’s estrangement; other times it is done too early and the child, the boy feels abandoned, lost. So, this I would say is the key to education: finding the right size and pace of help. There would be a lot to say about this, but after this outline, everyone can develop the obvious applications themselves. However, it must be said that this is an easy point to understand theoretically, but very difficult to apply.
Z. – I would like to know how far we can rule over our will, and how far we can tap into our will.
R.A. – There is no answer; there are no precise limits because this is a gradual conquest. First of all, it is a matter of realizing that you have a will; many, for example, do not know they have it, they deny they have it, so as not to have to take responsibility for the will itself. Let’s remember this. I have not spoken of the reasons why the theme of will is not developed in psychology, but one of these reasons is precisely this: that psychologists are men too, and all men shy away from responsibility. Now the admission of an individual will brings up the consideration of a corresponding responsibility, and this is not pleasing, and in fact there is this paradox that people loudly demand individual and social freedom, but when they have it, it is immediately given it to a dictator or an ideology, to an idol because they don’t know how to use it, and deep down, they don’t want to use it. This is also a theme that […]