Assagioli speaks about the scientific method and points to the fact that there are also psychological facts; he also touches on the origin of Psychosynthesis and who can and cannot benefit from its methods.
By Mariella Crocellà. This is an extract from an interview granted by Dr Roberto Assagioli to Mrs Mariella Crocellà of the newspaper “La Nazione”. It was conducted February 21, 1968, and found in the Assagioli Archive of Florence. It was translated from Italian by Gordon Symons.
R.A .: I will give you an article on misoneism. It is a youthful article, therefore a bit controversial, but what is important is what the scientific method is, the difference between the techniques of the natural sciences and that of the human sciences. The scientific method was basically well specified by Francesco Bacone: observing, experimenting and interpreting errors, what he calls the “idols”, the three or four idols. Basically, it is reasoning well, and recently semantics has also refined this aspect of the method. So, we need to let go of that preconception that scientific analysis occurs only when it can be weighed and measured. There are psychological facts that cannot be measured in any way, but which on the other hand, are real facts, because reality is what produces something, it is what is efficient. In German it is said very well, reality is that which operates, which is operative, which produces a change in a pre-existing state. Now, a hope, an ideal, or a value change the person’s behavior and therefore change reality also.
M.C .: It’s a spring, let’s say, a spring of …
R.A .: Precisely; feelings, aspirations, faiths, are all psychological facts as real as those of nature.
So, an example, a clear example on the difference between the purely quantitative method and the psychological, scientific method. Suppose we have a glass half-filled with water in front of us. Well, the quantitative evaluation in the sense of the natural sciences is: in this glass there is water that occupies 50% of the volume of its empty part, therefore it can be indifferently said that it is half full or half empty. From the point of view of the natural sciences, it is so.
Instead, from the psychological point of view the two expressions “half full” and “half empty” have opposite meanings, and these meanings produce consequences of the utmost importance. Anyone who says that the glass is half empty, demonstrates an attitude of discontent, need, pessimism, criticism, assumes that the glass should be completely full and complains that it is half empty. Those who say: this glass is half full, it shows an attitude of right evaluation, appreciation, gratitude for what God has given and optimism.
Well, the psychological consequences are: the first attitude, if it is habitual and accentuated, can even lead to neuropsychic disorders, conflicts with other people and unhappiness. The second leads instead to satisfaction, joy, gratitude towards others that attracts sympathy and benefits. So from the quantitative point of view the thing is the same, from the psychological point of view the consequences are opposite and important.
M.C .: So, Psychosynthesis derives from yoga?
R.A .: No, it cannot be said that it derives from yoga. Psychosynthesis uses a series of Yoga techniques by framing them in the psychosynthetic scientific concept of the human being. Here is what I want to say, Psychosynthesis is not an adaptation of yoga, it developed on its own, rather on the trunk of psychoanalysis, as you will see from the history of psychosynthesis. I did my degree thesis on the history of psychoanalysis, when in Italy it was completely unknown, in 1910. […] Then I got to know yoga, and I saw that you can very well do some …
Now this mental yoga, these trainings, mental exercises, don’t necessarily have a spiritual character. In a […] selfish way, for personal purposes, it includes, one must always distinguish between psyche and spirit. There are many in America who seek psychological methods to assert themselves, to be successful, to … but this has nothing spiritual; they are psychological techniques used for selfish purposes. While what is spiritual is the awakening of the superconscious, of the third level of the unconscious, the higher one, in which there is artistic inspiration, inspiration, intuition, genius, even impulses to heroic acts, overcoming the instinct for conservation.
M.C .: In the meantime, tell me about yourself. How do you want me to refer to you: as doctor? Because we always put two words.
R.A .: Officially, I am a specialist for nervous diseases, but I am already known as a psychiatrist.
M.C .: But I wanted to talk about your Institute—the Founder of the Institute of Psychosynthesis.
R.A .: Yes, since 1926. First in Rome, until 1938-39. After that, there was the persecution, and then I took it up again in 1958-59 here in Florence […]
R.A .: Psychosynthesis is the means of an integral construction of the personality. You see, another basic point of psychosynthesis and of individualizing the cure. Each case is unique. […]
R.A .: Psychological medicines. I have treated many patients with this system. Now I hardly practice anymore, with exceptions. I do didactic psychosynthesis. You know that didactic psychoanalysis is done, that is, they train themselves in the exercise of psychoanalysis. Well I do didactic psychosynthesis, and now I have 5 or 6 doctors who come for didactic psychosynthesis. […]
R.A .: Serious psychiatric cases do not lend themselves to psychosynthesis. To certain psychotherapies, yes, but not … However, given the need and the growing number of anxious people, I have always preferred to give my time and energy to the curable psychic forms. To characteropathies. Then there is the whole field of neurosis and also that of interpersonal conflicts, starting with those of the couple, between parents and children, and so on. And there are techniques for this too.
R.A .: In every one, I would say in the normal human being, there is 30% of the psychological characteristics of the other sex. A percentage that varies, of course, up to the rare case of bisexuality, etc.