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The fact that at the center or apex of the individual is the Spiritual Self — which constitutes one’s essential reality is even denied by academic psychologists.
By Roberto Assagioli, 1968, From The Assagioli Archive in Florence. Doc. #23977 . Original Title: La Psicologia Nell’Avvenire. Translated and Edited with Notes by Jan Kuniholm.
It can be deduced from many indications that psychology is on the verge of becoming the pivotal science of the future. It is, in the first place, the science of humanity itself, and today it is increasingly recognized that knowing mankind is the starting point of all human knowledge. All that one can know about the external world is constrained by one’s organs of perception, the five senses, which are capable of registering only very narrow ranges of the innumerable vibrations of the ether. We have only to think of the radio waves from transmitters all over the world, which penetrate the room we happen to be in but do not elicit a response from our sense organs unless they are converted by a receiving apparatus.
Regardless of this limitation of the senses, a subjective element is present in every observation of the external world. Every phenomenon is for us a combination of external influence and subjective perception. This fact, described among others by Wendell Johnson in his valuable book People in Quandaries, has been increasingly recognized by modern physicists. No direct observation of all the elements that constitute matter, such as sub-atomic particles, is possible. The only knowledge of them is deductive in nature and obtained by a process in which the observer plays an essential role. No color exists as such in the external world: “red,” “green” and “blue” are subjective sensations produced (in a mysterious way) by vibrations of various frequencies that stimulate certain areas of our brain through the eyes.
But even more important than the part played by the psychological element in qualifying our knowledge of the external world is the function of psychology in helping us to [attain] knowledge of ourselves, to become aware of human beings and understand them: to understand ourselves first and then others.
As a science, psychology is relatively new. Although its development in recent decades has been rapid and extensive, it can still be considered to be in its infancy. Despite the valuable contributions it has made and continues to make, the existence of some important and basic components of being human is neglected and even ignored (with a few exceptions). The fact that at the center or apex of the individual is the Spiritual Self — which constitutes one’s essential reality — is not generally recognized, and is even denied by academic psychologists. The same can be said of the will, which is humanity’s most valuable function and power.
What psychology will be, when it has reached its maturity in the future, firmly established and flourishing, cannot be predicted. But several clearly discernible trends are already in evidence that indicate the lines along which its development can be expected in the near future.
PROJECTION UPWARD INTO INNER SPACE
We have acquired the theoretical knowledge, the mental conviction of the reality of the Self, which is different from any other attribute or qualification; but this [by itself] is not a vital realization that produces the inner transformation and allows us ever greater mastery of our inner world.
Propulsive or motivating energies are of different kinds, and each individual will find what is the most effective to use personally, but all can be used or should be used in a kind of mixture, because their combined influence confers the highest degree of instigating power. A strong incentive for this work is the recognition of the great and growing disparity or lack of proportion between man’s knowledge and mastery over the forces of nature, and his lack of control over his own psychological energies, both individually and collectively. This disparity has recently been pointed out in various quarters and poses a serious threat to the very survival of mankind, or at least much of it, particularly that part which considers itself the most “civilized.” For example, fear or uncontrolled aggression could well unleash the terrible powers of destruction that now exist.
The average or so-called “normal” man is not a “finished product,” so to speak; but represents only one stage of attainment that may be followed by other and higher stages. There is a growing recognition that within every human being lie immeasurable psychological and spiritual powers that can be aroused from hibernation and brought into activity. They reside in the higher levels of the inner world, where they can be reached and thus attracted and utilized.
The spiritual attainments of the past were expressed through precise forms — that is, in religious or philosophical conceptions — and the methods of attainment were correspondingly linked to the doctrines, creeds and systems associated with them. It is now realized that these linkages are not necessary; that the investigation of the superconscious levels of spiritual reality can be carried out with an open mind or scientific attitude: that is, in a universal spirit.
Also new is the growing recognition that these achievements are not exceptional and reserved for a select few, nor do they depend upon special abilities. It has been observed that a large number of individuals who lead normal lives in the world and who do not possess special gifts, extraordinary intelligence or other superior qualities, have to some extent what Prof. Maslow calls “peak experiences.” This fact is not generally known, because these people are shy about talking about such experiences, fearing (rightly so, in our materialistically-minded civilization!) that they will be considered fanciful, extravagant or deranged. But currently the frequency, seriousness and value of such experiences are beginning to be recognized even in scientific circles, which have been inclined to regard the super-normal as abnormal — a mindset that is not scientific.
The American psychologist William James was a pioneer in this field and began his scientific investigations around 1900 with lectures on The Variety of Religious Experience. Around the same time, Dr. Bucke, after having an unexpected enlightenment, investigated such experiences in his book Cosmic Consciousness. A few years later, an English physician, Winslow Hall, skillfully collected and commented on a series of spontaneous spiritual realizations of “normal” people in his books Observed Illuminatesand Illuminanda. Various other writers have treated this subject, but only those who did so scientifically and objectively and without bias are mentioned here.
Recently Dr. A. Maslow, Head of the Department of Psychology at Brandeis University in the USA, made an extensive investigation of this type of experience using a questionnaire in which he skillfully analyzed the nature and value of it and published a series of articles collected in the book Toward a Psychology of Being. This book paves the way for a new and more inclusive type of scientific psychology that gives due consideration to the higher aspects of human nature.
Another psychologist, Dr. Roberto Assagioli, pointed out an important fact in this regard, namely, the difference between conscious entry into the superconscious realm and the realization of the Spiritual Self.
Space does not allow us here to further develop the analogy with the exploration of outer space, but some differences can be pointed out. The most important one is that the explorer of inner spaces has the privilege of not only acquiring information about them, but also of discovering new and powerful energies that can be used to transform and renew humanity. In this regard another analogy is more appropriate: that of the discovery and utilization of existing but [previously] untapped energies, such as electricity, and the latent energy of the atom.
NOTES ON PSYCHOLOGY AS OF 1968
The main achievement of modern psychology has been the development of what is called “depth psychology.” Previously psychology observed and studied only what appeared at the surface of consciousness and was therefore a “two-dimensional” psychology: but around the turn of the [20th] century psychological investigators discovered the existence and importance of the subconscious or unconscious activities that take place below that surface, in the depths of the human being. These hidden activities, it was ascertained, condition much of our conscious experience or conduct.
While this fact is now widely accepted, its vast implications and numerous applications in education and therapy are far from being adequately recognized and utilized. Even recently the investigation of the unconscious was still directed almost exclusively toward its “lower” aspects: the instinctive impulses, the conflicts it harbors, and the resulting nervous and psychological disorders. It has been more psychopathology than psychology.
Only recently has attention begun to turn toward the “higher” aspects of the unconscious. This level, which has been called the super- or supra-conscious, exists “beyond” the field of ordinary consciousness, and within it are to be found different and more appreciable psychological energies and qualities. Thus, some psychologists have begun to speak of “height psychology” or “peak experiences” (Maslow). It could be said that until recently only the exploration and cleaning of the cellars of the human edifice received the most attention. Then the area of investigation was extended upward to include even the dwellings, the sphere of the “ego;” and now finally investigators have reached the terraces at the summit, where the owner can rejoice in the life-giving rays of the spiritual sun and contemplate the stars at night. The Self begins to receive recognition and become the subject of attention. The higher values realized and expressed by humanity, such as aesthetic and ethical values, the function of intuition, the phenomenon of inspiration, and the mystery of genius, are now entering the actual range of scientific research.
One might wonder why this is happening only now, and why this field of investigation so far interests a small minority, while the majority of academic and non-academic psychologists regard it with suspicion or ignore it completely. This strange fact is mainly due to a misconception of what constitutes the “scientific method.” [Until recently] only the method used in the physical sciences, which deals with quantitative measurements and employs mechanical instruments and devices, has been regarded as scientific; only that which could be weighed, measured and repeated at will under laboratory conditions has been considered “respectable.”
But this calls for a clarification of what could appropriately be judged as “scientific.” First, as noted above, the presence of a subjective, psychological factor has been established in all observations and experiments, even in the natural sciences. Secondly, each science can and should have its own appropriate methods, determined by its inherent nature. Psychological facts, for example, that are not susceptible to being weighed, measured and repeated experimentally ad libitum, can be studied in other ways that are eminently scientific. Actually, what makes an investigation scientific is the elimination, as far as possible, of all sources of error and illusion. The scientific method still essentially conforms to the criteria laid down by Francis Bacon and can be summarized as correct reasoning and the right use of the mind.
Another misunderstanding, closely related to the previous one, fully centers on the definition of the word “fact.” In general, what qualifies as “fact” is limited to events of a material nature or concerning the physical body. But psychological events are exactly as real, equally as “actual,” as those others. In a strictly pragmatic sense, everything is real and actual — meaning effective: that is, producing a modification of pre-existing reality. This characteristic places feelings, ideas, images, goals and values squarely in the realm of fact, since they exert a powerful effect on people and their conduct toward others or nature in general. There is really no justification for considering, for example, sex, and not love, as an adequate subject of scientific research; or for judging delusion and psychopathic symptoms worthy of scientific study, while keeping the insights, illuminations and inner realizations of the artist and the mystic beyond the bounds of such research.
After this general examination, we will proceed to examine the ways in which particular future characteristics and trends are manifesting themselves in the field of psychology, as well as the probable lines of the future development of that science.
This quality is perhaps the most prominent discernible trend, and it indicates a great advance from the original position adopted by psychology as a science. At first investigators directed their attention primarily to the description and analysis of psychological elements and facts, their physiological correlations, and the observation of external conduct. But recently psychology has been progressing toward an increasing recognition of the actual, dynamic and creative nature of psychological energies. The predictable result is the evolution of psychology as a science of psycho-dynamics.
It can be assumed that this development will follow two main courses. One is dynamic psychology in the more technical sense, such as the investigation and utilization of psychological energies functioning in the individual and between individuals and groups. The other is the recognition and study of the dynamism of evolution, development, becoming and growth [in people].
Looking back at the development of dynamic psychology, it can be said to have originated around the last decade of the nineteenth century, when French psychologist Pierre Janet was already speaking in terms of psychological tension and “oscillation of the psychological level.” Then Freud initiated the psychoanalytic movement, which, with its subsequent and various derivations, accentuated, as it continues to do, the dynamic character of psychological life as a collaboration of forces, with their conflicts, repressions, resistances, transferences and so on. Among academic psychologists, William McDougall elaborated a well-defined dynamic psychology having a deterministic character; he argued that psychic energy is always “an impulse toward some end or goal.” 
A comparison of psychodynamics with other sciences, such as thermodynamics, aerodynamics, and electrodynamics, reveals illuminating similarities between the lines along which these sciences have developed and the lines of investigation that will increasingly engage psychodynamics in the future; i.e. the nature of psychological energies, the laws that govern them, and the methods and techniques of their utilization for self-realization in psychotherapy, education, and social relationships. The central subject and focal point of interest will be the transformations that these energies are constantly undergoing — the “ascending” transformations in the form of transmutation and sublimation; the “descending” or “degrading” (in the etymological sense) transformations; and finally the transformations into external manifestation through the nervous system and the activation of biological forces.
From the human and practical point of view, the importance of these investigations can be well appreciated when one realizes that their purpose is the control and utilization of the most powerful and often dangerous forces existing in human beings: sexual and emotional energies, and aggressive and combative impulses. The key to the solution of some of the bleakest problems that plague humanity lies in the healthy transformation of these energies: those associated with sex and love; with conflict and war. The future holds the promise of an Age in which psychodynamics will be as precise in its development and as rich in its applications as thermodynamics and electrodynamics are today. The present deplorable waste and misuse of psychological energies will then be largely checked, while creativity in all fields will be intensified and promoted in ways that would seem incredible today. The way we now handle — that is, fail to handle — these energies will then be considered primitive, crude and barbaric.
Among the energies which are identified and come under scientific observation are those of the para- or super-normal type, and their investigation constitutes the sphere of the most modern branch of scientific psychology: parapsychology. They include: extrasensory perception (ESP), telepathy, premonition and telekinesis (the power of thought to exert direct influence on material objects). Systematic experiments in telepathy have recently been conducted in the United States for military purposes. While these developments present some wonderful opportunities, they also carry a serious risk, similar to that aroused by the release of atomic energy — the risk of the misuse and destructive use of psychological energies. This will probably constitute the greatest problem facing humanity in the future and the particular problem of the new psychology. 
The second, more individual aspect of dynamic psychology has to do with [human] development and growth. It can be said that there is a fundamental conflict or tension [in people] between, on the one hand, the tendency to passivity, inertia, toward the line of least resistance or least effort, and attachment to what already is there and is known; and, on the other hand, the opposite tendency, the dynamic urge to proceed, to develop, to grow, to reach some glimpsed goal, to activate and use latent possibilities. This impulse causes the release of new amounts of energy and the corresponding elevation and expansion of conscious awareness and experience. A vast domain of “inner space” — the sphere of the super- or supra-conscious — extends out before those who are bold enough to explore it. The dynamism of growth has recently been emphasized by some psychologists, such as Maslow, Allport and others.
Outside the specific field of psychology, but remaining on a solid anthropological basis, Teilhard de Chardin described in dazzling terms a future evolution that will see man transcend his present normal “human” stage and individual awareness, and realize a state of “transmutation.”
All of these future advancements will help humanity emerge from what Allport appropriately termed as “The Stone Age of human relationships in which we are still entangled” and master those right, truly humanitarian, interpersonal and group relationships.
THE POSITIVE ATTITUDE
Closely related to dynamism, another characteristic trend of the future is emerging: the positive attitude or way of living. 
In the sphere of psychology, the effect of this trend will be to open up a vast and hitherto neglected field of investigation and application — the psychology of the will. The various aspects of the will, its right use and the risks of its misuse will become the subject of comprehensive research, thus receiving the careful consideration that their importance justifies and requires. Experiments on the many uses of the will for self-realization and in therapy, in education and in human relationships, and the consequent development and widespread practice of appropriate techniques will constitute a vast field of research and application.
Let us realize that only the will-to-good, manifested as good will, active in all human relationships, can counterbalance the risks arising from man’s discovery and control of the forces of nature, of powerful planetary and cosmic energies. The imperative need for such psychology of the will in the present period of conflict, transition, and adaptation should justify absolute priority for this branch of psychological science.
UNIFICATION AND SYNTHESIS
This trend is already active today and in some cases is even taking excessive forms. We are witnessing violent conflicts in many fields between the tendency toward isolation and separation and the tendency toward unification. Any attempt to understand the nature of these conflicts must begin with an understanding of the true meaning of unity and synthesis.
Synthesis, being an organic unity, does not denote uniformity or conformity. In synthesis, the parts or units are not eliminated or destroyed, but are integrated into a larger whole, while always retaining their distinction, individuality and a proper degree of autonomy. It is a structural, dynamic unity, in this respect offering an enlightened analogy to a healthy human body, in which cells, groups of cells, organs and groups of organs cooperate in fulfilling specific functions (such as digestion and assimilation), and in which all physiological functions form an integrated biosynthesis.
This tendency toward unification and synthesis makes it foreseeable that psychology can make an important contribution to the unification of the world, especially by removing obstacles to its realization.
Just as in the body the smallest functioning unit can be considered the cell, so in humanity the smallest unit is the individual. Physical health depends on the healthy condition of cells: similarly, the synthesis of humanity (including synthesis between individuals and between groups), is contingent on the prior unification and synthesis within each individual. Under the pressure and urgency to resolve current social and political conflicts, this precondition is often forgotten, and yet it is indispensable.
As long as there is struggle within him personally, a human being is not in a condition to establish harmonious relationships with other human beings, and cannot be considered capable of constructively cooperating in the creation of unification and synthesis in and among the many groups of which the human family is composed. Rather, a person’s tendency will be to project one’s own internal conflicts into one’s contacts with others. Recognizing this condition — and the concomitant need for personality integration — many psychologists and psychotherapists have created and use techniques designated to implement this psychosynthesis. This approach is still at an early stage, and one of the most important tasks of psychology in the future will be the improvement of these techniques and their application as widely as possible.
After the psychosynthesis of the individual, the next stage is the psychosynthesis of man and woman, both as co-members of the couple and collectively as the male and female parts of humanity. It is common experience that the relationship between man and woman has been distorted by deep misunderstandings and consequent conflicts. The main cause of them is the deeply rooted and largely misunderstood difference in the psychological constitutions of men and women, which makes it difficult for them to understand each other.
The psychological functions that are developed, often excessively, in men — his reasoning mental activity, his drive to shape the external world, and his attraction to the future, to risk and physical combat — are generally lacking in women. Conversely, the functions characteristic of women — namely, emotions, feeling, imagination and intuition — are for the most part underdeveloped or repressed in men, or manifest themselves in crude and primitive ways. However, it is possible to implement better communication, tending toward understanding and synthesis, because in men there is a certain amount of feminine traits, and in every woman there are latent masculine qualities that can be developed.
These potentials form a bridge between the two sexes (or opposite poles), and in collaboration, especially in the close relationship of marriage, the representative of one sex tends to evoke its qualities in the other. The evidence for this has been established in the studies of Jung, Maeder and Keyserling. But what happens slowly and with difficulty, and is the product of rebellion and conflict, can be achieved far more quickly and completely with a clear recognition of the problems, and with willing cooperation based on knowledge of psychology. It can be expected that this field will receive increasing attention in the future, and this will involve the general recognition of the need for psychological preparation for marriage.
Only when a fair degree of synthesis has been achieved in the couple, (which is the fundamental human group, the primary social cell), can the family function on a new basis of psychological understanding and harmony. This raises a further problem, the relationship between parents and children. The acute conflicts that trouble that relationship today are a reflection of a general disagreement between the old and the new era. Being fundamentally a psychological problem — or to put it better, a series of problems — the solution can be greatly facilitated by intelligent and serene psychological insight.
A broader problem is that of the respective of men and women in the New Social Order, which is emerging and will be established in the future. It is evident that women are taking an increasingly active part in the world of work: a fact which may prove of great benefit, provided it does not involve their masculinization, but nurtures that “humanization” of modern life which is so much needed. Many progressive women are clearly aware of this problem and are working toward this end. It can be said that on the achievement of such humanization depends to a large extent the future of humanity.
Finally, psychology will be called upon to make its essential contribution to the synthesis of the larger human groups. Its function in relation to nations has already been mentioned; but it must also address the problem in relation to the races as a whole and to the inhabitants of the various continents. Only through these stages will it be possible to advance toward the synthesis on a planetary scale: the psychosynthesis of the One Humanity, which will be the glory of the future.
Mental development is another feature that is already unmistakably in evidence. The increasingly rapid expansion of the field of knowledge and the challenge in the form of new and more complex problems, (both in the science of the external world and in human existence on a planetary scale) are producing intense stimulation of the mind. New sciences such as cybernetics (the science of “management”) and semantics are being developed, and their increasing scope and usefulness in the future can be confidently predicted. This intensified mental activity requires a more acute and broader knowledge of the mind itself and an improved ability to control, direct and use it rightly. All this naturally falls within the psychological sphere and constitutes one of its most necessary and fruitful fields of research and application.
The uses of the mind are varied and becoming more and more numerous as each one extends its scope. First in importance is the deliberate employment of the power of thought as a generator and manipulator. The inherent power in thought has been discovered, or rather rediscovered, and is increasingly being applied and exploited. The evaluation of the dynamics of ideas has led to the shrewd application of psychological forces in many fields, particularly in the political and business fields, with the use of propaganda techniques by covert or overt persuaders. The situation offers splendid opportunities for good, but it is also fraught with real risks, as recent history has amply demonstrated. To counterbalance this danger, the mind can be used effectively in other ways; namely, to control emotional reactions and irrational impulses. The light of the mind has the ability to dispel the [mental] fog or haziness created by these emotions and impulses, which are intensified by those who take advantage of them.
Moreover, the mind can correct its own functions; it can control them and readjust them when necessary, making use of the reasoning that leads to the application of the true scientific method. The great pioneer in such use of the mind was Francis Bacon, who with the Novum Organum laid the foundation for the principles of correct reasoning, which is fundamental to scientific work, and expounded the main causes of error in thinking. He appropriately called them “idols” and classified them into four categories:
- The “idols of the tribe” — prejudices that are more or less common to the entire human race, the existence of which derives from the limitations of the human psyche and the subjective element, which, as mentioned above, colors and distorts all kinds of perceptions of reality.
- The “idols of the den” — prejudices particular to each individual.
- The “idols of the theater” — erroneous notions accepted without discrimination, based on the authority of others.
- The “idols of the market place” — notions conveyed by some means of expression, especially by words, with terminologies that do not correspond to reality and present false conceptions of it.
Bacon’s admonition in this regard proves that he was a forerunner of modern semantics, the main purpose of which is precisely the elimination of errors due to language or other means of communication.
Since Bacon’s time, considerable progress has been made in the direction he indicated, but it is far from sufficient. The complications of modern life and the greater subtleties of scientific research have created many new opportunities for error arising from the misuse of the mind. Much remains to be done in the near future.
This is clearly a field in which psychology can render such an appreciable service that its special contribution is appropriate. But before it is able to give it, psychology must undergo a drastic cleansing to eliminate the errors that are being made in its own field. Psychological terminology is in a state of great semantic confusion; some of its terms have many different, even opposite meanings. In fact, Allport enumerated no less than fifty attributes given to the word “personality.” The words “individual” and “individuality” are used by some writers to denote higher integration (Jung), while others give this meaning to personality as opposed to the individual.
Moreover, “soul” is used in a variety of ways, and the same can be said of “Self,” “Spirit,” and other words. Nonetheless, psychology has much to offer semantics, which has often limited itself to the mental and rational level, not giving due consideration to the non-rational aspects of life; and has thus neglected to consider such vital realities and functions as imagination, love, values and goals.
This leads to the third and perhaps highest use of the mind: the admission of one’s own limitations; the recognition of the boundaries of one’s independent field of action; and the recognition of the existence of a higher cognitive function, and of a superior way of achieving a direct and intimate understanding of reality (which includes other living beings).
This organ of direct knowledge is intuition. Intuition is not irrational, but super-rational. Nevertheless, the cooperation of the mind is necessary for its proper use, and it is good to have a clear idea about the proper relations and cooperation needed between the two. In this regard the functions of the mind are:
- to recognize intuition and its messages;
- to interpret them correctly;
- to formulate and express these interpretations verbally or through some other means of communication. The future will give evidence of the flourishing of intuition, the progress of which will give rise to the corresponding need to train the mind to take full advantage of its benefits. This will constitute a challenge to the new psychology: a challenge, however, which it is well able to meet.
Extroversion is one of the characteristics of the future that can easily degenerate into exaggeration [or excessive activity] and be misused. Psychology can be of great help in counterbalancing it in two ways:
1. By controlling an excessive tendency to launch into an external activity and act with absurd haste. Psychology can do this by arousing interest in the internal life, by showing how to explore and master the internal worlds, and how progress in internal action can be achieved by means of appropriate techniques.
2. By teaching the techniques of appropriate and effective extroversion, which also operates in two directions:
a. From the top down. The use of psychological and spiritual energies to perfect the physical body can be called psychosomatic action. Its first result is psycho-physical coordination, in which the individual is often deficient both because he neglects to use advantageous psychological forces and because he opens his consciousness to harmful influences that can cause disease. Intellectual and artistic types, for example, often neglect the body from lack of interest and therefore often have a weak and defective connection between their mental and emotional lives and their physical expression: this represents a lack of what can be called “biopsychosynthesis.”
But psychological and spiritual energies can achieve much more than the harmonization and utilization of existing physiological and biological forces. In fact, they can recharge the body with new vitality and renew it to the point of regeneration. This produces self-healing and, even more, the awakening of the wonderful latent possibilities existing in the human body. This stems from the fact that most of our brain cells, which number in the billions, are not utilized, as has been rightly stated [by others].
b. From the inside out. Psychological extroversion in this direction means the “decentralization” or diversion of the psychological and vital interest of the “dear self” from self-centeredness and egotism toward other human beings and even to all living creatures. Thus are created the various “I-Thou” relationships, and later a wider range of human relationships through various groups.
PSYCHOLOGY AND RIGHT HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS
The importance of right relationships within the individual himself, among the various elements of his manifold personality, cannot be emphasized enough as a basic requirement for all other relationships. Only by establishing right relations within ourselves can psychological obstacles be removed and right relations with others be established. Through sincere self-analysis we can come to recognize the various complexes existing in our unconscious, and then dissolve and in time eliminate them. This is a task for which the help offered by psychology is very effective.
Lack of understanding of others is another serious obstacle to right relationships. True understanding requires:
- a general knowledge of the psychological structure of human beings;
- the study of differential psychology, that is, of the great differences existing between individuals. Here psychology can make a remarkable contribution, first of all by means of typology, which deals with the knowledge and recognition of various psychological types, such as extroverts and introverts, sensory, emotional, mental, intuitive and other types. This offers the key to understanding why individuals react and behave differently when faced with the same situation, or the same human relationship.
But typology is only one aspect of differential psychology. If we limit ourselves to it, we run the risk of pigeonholing humans into groups and classes, a danger that Maslow, Johnson and others warned against. People often rebel — and with reason — to being so pigeonholed, especially if it involves conscious or unconscious judgments and criticisms. The true, deeper understanding that can be defined as “existential understanding” is that of the individual as a “unique” being, having special qualities problems and possibilities. It is the result of sympathy, intuition and love — qualities that arise more spontaneously and are more often demonstrated in simple people than in more cultured and intellectual ones.
Indeed, psychology, and particularly the new spiritual psychology that will develop in the future, can give very effective help in developing those psychological functions and teaching their proper use. It is useful to realize that, however unpleasant and humiliating this may be, serious errors of understanding can be made even with the best of intentions.
There is a well known story about a kind-hearted monkey who, seeing a fish in the water, rushed to save it from drowning and put it in a tree. As ridiculous as this may seem, our behavior is not so different from that of the monkey when we impose on others our ideas and the ideals that we think are best for them, but which are actually incompatible with their nature and true needs.
Finally, psychology helps us to regard all other humans as “personalities” and even more so as souls, thereby arousing in us respect and appreciation for them, causing us to let them be free — free to be themselves, and not “objects” to be exploited.
PSYCHOLOGY AND GOODWILL
Let us remember that goodwill is more than just the expression of a good disposition; it means “a will that wants what is good.”
In reality we still know very little about the will; therefore there is a great need for a “psychology of the will.” We need to learn what the will is and the techniques for developing it. Then, its use must be good; that is, it must be a good will. Such goodness is based on right motives. Here, too, psychology can help with the new and rapid development of “psychology of motives.”
PSYCHOLOGY AND GROUP ACTIVITY
Group activity gives rise to the many problems concerning interpersonal relationships and exchanges between individuals and groups. Inter-individual and social psychology can and will give considerable help here.
PSYCHOLOGY AND UNANIMITY
Discrimination between unanimity in what is right or wrong can be facilitated by psychological understanding. Unanimity should not be mistaken for uniformity. There can be unanimity of purpose combined with a natural diversity of talents, contributions and methods to achieve the common goal. Unanimity does not require unification at the base; it is achieved by convergence toward and within the summit, the goal. The following simple symbols will help in visualizing this concept:
USE OF PSYCHO-SPIRITUAL ENERGIES
Right use of these energies involves knowledge of the superconscious, of the different paths leading to it, of the methods of penetrating it; that is, of all those steps leading to the Higher Reality. The new spiritual psychology will teach the development and use of higher functions such as intuition and indicate their proper interpretation, and place emphasis on the use of symbols.
While the higher energies can be used for the development and spiritual growth of both individuals and humanity as a whole, there is a specific use of them that is made urgent by the present period of tension and turmoil. The difficulties of this period are due to the inadequacy and disintegration of human life, as well as the attempt to create the new forms necessary for the advent of a new civilization, and new types of cultural expression.
However vast and difficult the task facing humanity, it cannot be avoided. It is these conditions in which humanity lives that prompt us to try to make our contribution to the recognition of new trends and future lines of development in psychology, as well as to assist such development by the right use of psycho-spiritual energies.
In order to make this work less difficult and more practical, we believe that it would be appropriate to establish study and work groups concerning each of the indicated fields.
Returning to a general consideration, it is good to always remember the important distinction between the vision of possible achievements in the future when psychology will be in its full manifestation, and the initial steps toward that goal, which must be taken in the immediate future. Let us avoid the illusion that it is possible today to implement ideals that can only come true after a gradual process, for this would lead to inevitable disappointments.
The vastness of the program we have outlined should not discourage anyone. Cooperating in its implementation does not require special ability nor particularly favorable conditions of time, health, etc. Everyone can do something and every contribution, no matter how small, is a rivulet that increases the [flow of the] river. Even those who are incapable of actually working can help create a current of thought, and direct their desire and aspiration toward future achievements as long as they are willing to use their acquired knowledge in a fair and balanced way.
 Earlier versions of this essay (all in Italian) are found in Archive Documents #23974, 23975, and 23976, a perusal of which may give an insight into the progression of Assagioli’s thinking. The earliest (undated) draft was titled “Orientations of the Psychology of the Future.” Even though the title of this document indicates that it was written in 1968, the hand-written draft in Doc.#23976 suggest that revisions and corrections to it were made by the author right up his death in 1974. See Notes 10 and 12 below. Editor’s interpolations are indicated in [brackets].—Ed.
 It has been established, for example, that only about 0.0035% of the electromagnetic spectrum is visible, and that only a tiny portion of the sound spectrum is audible by human ears.—Ed.
 “Ether” is a term that is used variably by different people. Assagioli derived some of his psychology from Eastern sources such as the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and accepted and worked with phenomena (such as “ether”) that were not recognized or accepted by others, particularly scientists. Although the existence of “ether” by its nineteenth-century definition as a medium through which electromagnetic waves flowed was supposedly disproved by the famous Michelson-Morley experiment, there are some theorists today who believe that early concepts of “ether” may bear some resemblance to what is today called “quantum vacuum” or “dark matter.” Assagioli probably uses the term with the sense of ether being the underlying network of physical reality. —Ed.
 Clearly Assagioli is approaching “energy” from a unified perspective, not dividing energies up into sound, electromagnetism, gravity, nuclear energy and so on. —Ed.
 Johnson, Wendell, People in Quandaries: The Semantics of Personal Adjustment, Harper & Brothers, 1946.—Ed.
 That is, the energies which result in action. —Ed.
 Varieties of Religious Experience by William James was originally given as a series of Gifford Lectures on natural theology at the University of Edinburgh in 1901-1902 and published by Longmans, Green and Co. in 1902. Newer editions are available. —Ed.
 Cosmic Consciousness by R. M. Bucke was first published by E.P. Dutton and Co. in 1901. Newer editions are available. —Ed.
 Hall, W. Winslow, MD, Observed Illuminates, London, The C.W. Daniel Co. 1926. —Ed.
 Hall, W. Winslow, MD, Illuminanda: An Experimental Guide, London, The C.W. Daniel Co. 1930. —Ed.
 Died in the USA in 1970. —Author’s note in original manuscript of Doc. #23977. This appeared as a hand-written addition in the draft article in Doc. #23976. —Ed.
 Toward a Psychology of Being by A.H. Maslow was first published by D. Van Nostrand in 1962. Newer editions are available. —Ed.
 Died in Capolona (Arezzo) Italy in 1974. —Author’s note in original manuscript of Doc. #23977. In Assagioli’s hand-written corrections to the draft essay (Doc.#23976), this note reads “died in . . .” without the place or date, and a later transcriber filled in the place and year.—Ed.
 Note for example that even in quantum physics, experiments have demonstrated that the perceptions of an observer determine whether a phenomenon may be a “wave” or as a “particle.” Refer to online information about the “Davisson-Germer experiment” and the “double slit experiment.”These experiments suggest that the nature of realityis intertwined with subjective human perception in some way. —Ed.
 In today’s computer-driven science, the preferred word may be “data,” but it is important to get Assagioli’s sense using his own terminology. He means “an accepted aspect of reality,” and he explains more further on.—Ed.
 McDougall, William (1871-1938), British-born American psychologist; see The Energies of Men: A Study of the Fundamentals of Dynamic Psychology. London, Methuen & Co.Ltd. 1932, p.12. —Ed.
 In other lectures and papers Assagioli explicitly included parapsychology in his studies and in psychosynthesis, and personally conducted studies and experiments in this area. He himself was actively involved in investigating such phenomena as early as 1920, and published some findings in this area. In one essay titled “Psychosynthesis and Parapsychology” he wrote, “There is no clear-cut difference between normal psychological functions and activities on the one hand, and supernormal, parapsychological, or spiritual faculties on the other.” —Ed.
 Gordon Allport (1897-1967), American psychologist, one of the first American psychologists to focus on the study of personality; author of Personality: A Psychological Interpretation (1937) and Becoming: Basic Considerations for a Psychology of Personality (1955). —Ed.
 Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955), French Jesuit priest, scientist, paleontologist, theologian and philosopher, author of The Phenomenon of Man (1955), The Future of Man (1964), Human Energy (1969) and other works.—Ed.
 Allport, Gordon, Becoming: Basic Considerations for a Psychology of Personality (1955) page 13. —Author’s Note.
 As of the date of this translation (2023) “positive psychology” has been an influential part of the field of psychology since at least the year 2000, with many practitioners and researchers contributing significant work. One of the most influential of these has been Martin Seligman. —Ed.
 In several writings and lectures Assagioli cited the works of C.G. Jung, Alphonse Maeder, and Hermann Keyserling, especially those that were collected in The Book of Marriage: A New Interpretation by Twenty Four Leaders of Contemporary Thought, edited by Keyserling; New York, Harcourt Brace & Co. 1926. In the 1970s Assagioli said he still considered the 25 essays in this book (including works by H. Ellis, R. Tagore, and T. Mann as well as the others mentioned above) to be among the best collections on the subject. —Ed.
 Oxford Dictionary: cybernetics: the science of communications and automatic control systems in both machines and living things; and semantics: the branch of linguistics and logic concerned with meaning.—Ed.
 Bacon, Novum Organum, 1620. The full title reads, in English, New Organon, or true directions concerning the interpretation of nature.The original Organon to which the title refers is Aristotle’s treatise on logic and syllogism. Bacon details a new system of logic, now known as the Baconian method, which was instrumental in the development of the scientific method. —Ed.
 Assagioli is using the term “extroversion” here in more or less the same sense that C.G. Jung introduced in 1913; i.e. an inner personality style or orientation toward exterior activity as opposed to interior activity on the part of an individual. He was concerned about the larger social implications of such a tendency, as for example he noted that Italy was a nation of extroverts; and it seems that he saw a growing tendency everywhere to “exteriorize” responses to life situations.—Ed.
 For reference, see Assagioli, Psychosynthesis Typology, London, Institute of Psychosynthesis, 2004. —Ed.
 Assagioli was fond of referring to word etymologies in order to clarify his meaning. In this case unanimity (l’unanimità in Italian) derives from the Latin meaning one + mind or soul. Uniformity (l’uniformità in Italian) derives from the Latin for one + form. —Ed.
 Adapted from sketches in original document. —Ed.