Themes like ‘self actualisation’ coined by Abraham Maslow and ‘Individuation’ by Carl Jung encapsulate some of the mood of the transpersonal movement.
Self actualisation, the pinnacle of Maslow’s famous hierarchy of needs is about bringing one’s talents and abilities to their highest functioning and purpose.
Individuation, by Dr. Carl Gustave Jung (Freud’s break away star pupil), is about integrating the divisions that lay within our selves including the subpersonalities, archetypes and other intra psychic forces. Where Freud said we are governed by unconsious desires many of which are socially unacceptable, Jung said the ‘shadow’ 90% gold. Reclaiming banished intra-psychic content is a worthy goal. (Jungs” A Matter of Heart” 1hr 45 minutes video.)
The Psychosynthesis movement launched by Assigioli was deeply influenced by the analytical psychology of Jung but deals more with integrating sub-personalities rather than an emphasis on the collective unconscious and it’s archetypal contents.
One thing is for certain. We are all individually and collectively motivated by unseen forces deeper than our ordinary consious ability to control them. Non-ordinary states of consciousness can help us to access these deeper underlying or overlying forces. Also known as Transpersonal aspects. By altered states, we mean, dreaming, trance, meditation etc.
Other transpersonal guiding lights include Stanislav Grof, a Czek psychiatrist who set out to map the unconscious via altered states initially with LSD experimentation, then moving into holotropic breath work (also known as rebirthing). One of Grofs more famous book is “Spiritual Emergence” about people experiencing radically altered states of consciousness as they undergo radical transformations of perspective, which are often mistaken and labelled as psychoses.
The difference between psychoses and radical non-ordinary states of consciousness such as ‘kundalini’ awakenings is discussed carefully by Grof so that it is possible for the skilled and sensitive mental health practitioner to discern psychotic breakdowns from spiritual emergencies.
It is also worth noting that spiritual emergencies wrongly treated or neglected will lead to psychotic illnesses, so that some psychotic illnesses may be brought on by untreated spiritual emergencies. And treating spiritual emergencies or existential crisis with medication may induce psychosis.
Handle with care.
“Western science is approaching a paradigm shift of unprecedented proportions, one that will change our concepts of reality and of human nature, bridge the gap between ancient wisdom and modern science, and reconcile the differences between Eastern spirituality and Western pragmatism.” – Stan Grof from his book ‘Beyond the Brain’ (published by by State University of New York Press, 1985)