Roberto Assagioli about Psychoanalysis, from his article: Psychosynthesis – Individual and Social
Psychosynthesis presupposes psychoanalysis
Psychosynthesis presupposes psychoanalysis or, rather, includes it as a first and necessary stage. There is in this respect a close analogy with chemical processes—both with those produced in the scientific laboratory and with those, even more wonderful, which are consistently going on in the human body. For instance, the complex molecules of the proteins contained in food are subdivided into the simpler molecules of peptones by the biochemical analytical processes of digestion. Through a process of synthesis, these are combined to form larger molecules constituting the specific proteins of our own organism.
The same thing occurs in the human psyche, in which processes of dissolution and reconstruction are being carried on incessantly. Sometimes these processes of psychological assimilation (one might say of ingestion and digestion) take place easily and spontaneously, but often psychological indigestion and toxic conditions occur and psychopathological abscesses and tumors are developed in the unconscious of the individual.
The need for studying and curing these troubles has led to the creation and use of new methods of investigation and treatment, and to varied theories and interpretations, the most generally known being psychoanalysis.
The lot of psychoanalysis has been peculiar. What has happened we must deplore because of its many unfortunate consequences, but which, with our psychoanalytic knowledge of human nature, should not surprise us. The more questionable, excessive and dangerous aspects of psychoanalysis have been those most emphasized and widespread. The sexual theory (or the alleged sexual origin of most manifestations of human life) and a system of often arbitrary and far-fetched interpretations have had a great vogue among the public, arousing unwholesome curiosity and frequently furnishing a pseudo-justification for an uncontrolled indulgence of the instinctive nature. At the same time the higher aspects, the fine flowerings of human nature such as express themselves through religion and art, have been subjected to a destructive analysis that misses their true and deeper essence.
In consequence of these excesses and deviations, a number of psychologists and psychiatrists have been led into a wholesale denunciation and condemnation of psychoanalysis, and a rejection of the important elements of truth it contains and the useful psychotherapeutic and educational techniques it has developed.
We may say that its most fruitful contribution has been the demonstration that there can be no real health, no inner harmony and freedom, and no unimpaired efficiency without first a sincere, courageous and humble acknowledgement of all the lower aspects of our nature, all the impulses, passions and illusions, plus their manifold combinations and deviations, which dwell and seethe in our unconscious and which delude, limit and enslave us.
Psychoanalysis, in its best aspects, is effective in helping us to overcome the resistances and repressions produced by our ignorance, our fear, our pride and our hypocrisy; these prevent us from seeing clearly the dark sides of our nature. Their recognition is a prerequisite in dealing with them satisfactorily and thus laying a sound and stable foundation for all our subsequent work on the psychological building-up of our personality.
As Freud (2) stated, psychoanalysis can aid us in passing from the “pleasure-pain principle,” from the unceasing oscillation between these two poles in vain attempts to cling to the first and avoid the second, to the “reality principle,” that is, to the recognition and the conscious acceptance of reality—with its laws and just claims. Thus a well- understood and applied psychoanalysis may help us to pass from the world of passions and emotions, of vain imaginations and illusions, to the realm of healthy reason, to an objective and scientific vision of ourselves and of others. But sometimes this help, even when given by the best kind of psychoanalysis, proves inadequate for the solution of man’s psychological and spiritual problems. It has been observed again and again that, while the bringing into the light of consciousness of the diverse tendencies at war in our unconscious may eliminate some morbid symptoms, it is not sufficient to solve the conflicts. Sometimes, as when the patient is unable to stand too sudden or premature a revelation, it may even complicate the condition. Furthermore, a too insistent and one-sided delving into the lower aspects of the human psyche can be definitely harmful.
Therefore the practice of psychoanalysis requires much caution and should be kept within definite bounds; but above all it should be integrated by active psychosynthetic procedures. This integration enables therapists to help patients, and educators to help the young, to utilize, transmute and sublimate their exuberant vital and psychological forces.
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