Humanism, by Wikipedia

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Humanistic psychology
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 6/4/19



The branch of explicitly humanistic thought currently making the most pronounced contributions to a more adequate image of humankind is undoubtedly that which is organizationally led by the Association for Humanistic Psychology and its ("fourth force") offspring, the Association for Transpersonal Psychology. Both being part of the so-called "human potential movement," these organizations tend to put more trust in the intuitive wisdom and good will of persons than in the formalized theories and rules of organizations, believing that there is an innate tendency toward wholesome growth and goodness in all persons that will be actualized if not prematurely frustrated by societal limitations. Both groups are recently programming many of their activities with an explicit focus on the possible evolutionary transformation of humankind, much as is described in (and partially as a result of) this study. Thus, to a large extent their emerging image is that described in Chapter 5.

-- Changing Images of Man: Prepared by the Center for the Study of Social Policy/SRI International, edited by O. W. Markley, Project Director and Willis W. Harman, Project Supervisor

Humanistic psychology is a psychological perspective that rose to prominence in the mid-20th century in answer to the limitations of Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic theory and B. F. Skinner's behaviorism.[1] With its roots running from Socrates through the Renaissance, this approach emphasizes individuals' inherent drive towards self-actualization, the process of realizing and expressing one's own capabilities and creativity.

This psychological perspective helps the client gain the belief that all people are inherently good.[2] It adopts a holistic approach to human existence and pays special attention to such phenomena as creativity, free will, and positive human potential. It encourages viewing ourselves as a "whole person" greater than the sum of our parts and encourages self exploration rather than the study of behavior in other people. Humanistic psychology acknowledges spiritual aspiration as an integral part of the psyche. It is linked to the emerging field of transpersonal psychology.[3][4]

Primarily, this type of therapy encourages a self-awareness and mindfulness that helps the client change their state of mind and behaviour from one set of reactions to a healthier one with more productive self-awareness and thoughtful actions. Essentially, this approach allows the merging of mindfulness and behavioural therapy, with positive social support.

In an article from the Association for Humanistic Psychology, the benefits of humanistic therapy are described as having a "crucial opportunity to lead our troubled culture back to its own healthy path. More than any other therapy, Humanistic-Existential therapy models democracy. It imposes ideologies of others upon the client less than other therapeutic practices. Freedom to choose is maximized. We validate our clients' human potential."[2]

In the 20th century, humanistic psychology was referred to as the "third force" in psychology, distinct from earlier, even less humanistic approaches of psychoanalysis and behaviorism. In our post industrial society, humanistic psychology has become more significant; for example, neither psychoanalysis nor behaviorism could have birthed emotional intelligence.

Its principal professional organizations in the US are the Association for Humanistic Psychology and the Society for Humanistic Psychology (Division 32 of the American Psychological Association). In Britain, there is the UK Association for Humanistic Psychology Practitioners.


One of humanistic psychology's early sources was the work of Carl Rogers, who was strongly influenced by Otto Rank, who broke with Freud in the mid-1920s. Rogers' focus was to ensure that the developmental processes led to healthier, if not more creative, personality functioning. The term 'actualizing tendency' was also coined by Rogers, and was a concept that eventually led Abraham Maslow to study self-actualization as one of the needs of humans.[5][6] Rogers and Maslow introduced this positive, humanistic psychology in response to what they viewed as the overly pessimistic view of psychoanalysis.[7][8]

The other sources of inspiration include the philosophies of existentialism and phenomenology.

Conceptual origins

The humanistic approach has its roots in phenomenological and existentialist thought[9] (see Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty and Sartre). Eastern philosophy and psychology also play a central role in humanistic psychology, as well as Judeo-Christian philosophies of personalism, as each shares similar concerns about the nature of human existence and consciousness.[4]

For further information on influential figures in personalism, see: Emmanuel Mounier, Gabriel Marcel, Denis de Rougemont, Jacques Maritain, Martin Buber, Emmanuel Levinas, Max Scheler and Karol Wojtyla

As behaviorism grew out of Ivan Pavlov's work with the conditioned reflex, and laid the foundations for academic psychology in the United States associated with the names of John B. Watson and B.F. Skinner, Abraham Maslow gave behaviorism the name "the second force". Historically "the first force" were psychologists like Sigmund Freud, Alfred Adler, Erik Erikson, Carl Jung, Erich Fromm, Karen Horney, Melanie Klein, Harry Stack Sullivan, and others.[10]

In the late 1930s, psychologists, interested in the uniquely human issues, such as the self, self-actualization, health, hope, love, creativity, nature, being, becoming, individuality, and meaning—that is, a concrete understanding of human existence, included Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, and Clark Moustakas, who were interested in founding a professional association dedicated to a psychology focused on these features of human capital demanded by post-industrial society.

The humanistic psychology perspective is summarized by five core principles or postulates of humanistic psychology first articulated in an article written by James Bugental in 1964[11] and adapted by Tom Greening,[12] psychologist and long-time editor of the Journal of Humanistic Psychology. The five basic principles of humanistic psychology are:

1. Human beings, as human, supersede the sum of their parts. They cannot be reduced to components.
2. Human beings have their existence in a uniquely human context, as well as in a cosmic ecology.
3. Human beings are aware and are aware of being aware - i.e., they are conscious. Human consciousness always includes an awareness of oneself in the context of other people.
4. Human beings have the ability to make choices and therefore have responsibility.
5. Human beings are intentional, aim at goals, are aware that they cause future events, and seek meaning, value, and creativity.

While humanistic psychology is a specific division within the American Psychological Association (Division 32), humanistic psychology is not so much a discipline within psychology as a perspective on the human condition that informs psychological research and practice.

Practical origins

WWII created practical pressures on military psychologists, they had more patients to see and care for than time or resources permitted. The origins of group therapy are here.[citation needed] Eric Berne's progression of books shows this transition out of what we might call pragmatic psychology of WW II into his later innovation, Transactional Analysis, one of the most influential forms of humanistic Popular Psychology of the later 1960s-1970.

Orientation to scientific research

Humanistic psychologists generally do not believe that we will understand human consciousness and behavior through Cartesian-Newtonian scientific research.[13] The objection that humanistic psychologists have to traditional research methods is that they are derived from and suited for the physical sciences[14] and not especially appropriate to studying the complexities and nuances of human meaning-making.[15][16][17]

However, humanistic psychology has involved scientific research of human behavior since its inception. For example:

• Abraham Maslow proposed many of his theories of human growth in the form of testable hypotheses,[18][19][20] and he encouraged human scientists to put them to the test.
• Shortly after the founding of the American Association of Humanistic Psychology, its president, psychologist Sidney Jourard, began his column by declaring that "research" is a priority. "Humanistic Psychology will be best served if it is undergirded with research that seeks to throw light on the qualities of man that are uniquely human" (emphasis added)[21]
• In May 1966, the AAHP release a newsletter editorial that confirmed the humanistic psychologist's "allegiance to meaningfulness in the selection of problems for study and of research procedures, and an opposition to a primary emphasis on objectivity at the expense of significance."[22] This underscored the importance of research to humanistic psychologists as well as their interest in special forms of human science investigation.
• Likewise, in 1980, the American Psychological Association's publication for humanistic psychology (Division 32 of APA) ran an article titled, What makes research humanistic?[23] As Donald Polkinghorne notes, "Humanistic theory does not propose that human action is completely independent of the environment or the mechanical and organic orders of the body, but it does suggest that, within the limits of experienced meanings, persons as unities can choose to act in ways not determined by prior events...and this is the theory we seek to test through our research" (p. 3).

A human science view is not opposed to quantitative methods, but, following Edmund Husserl:

1. favors letting the methods be derived from the subject matter and not uncritically adopting the methods of natural science,[24] and
2. advocates for methodological pluralism. Consequently, much of the subject matter of psychology lends itself to qualitative approaches (e.g. the lived experience of grief), and quantitative methods are mainly appropriate when something can be counted without leveling the phenomena (e.g. the length of time spent crying).

Research has remained part of the humanistic psychology agenda, though with more of a holistic than reductionistic focus. Specific humanistic research methods evolved in the decades following the formation of the humanistic psychology movement.[25][26][27][28][29][30][31][32][33][34]

Development of the field

These preliminary meetings eventually led to other developments, which culminated in the description of humanistic psychology as a recognizable "third force" in psychology (first force: psychoanalysis, second force: behaviorism). Significant developments included the formation of the Association for Humanistic Psychology (AHP) in 1961 and the launch of the Journal of Humanistic Psychology (originally "The Phoenix") in 1961.

In November 1964 key figures in the movement gathered at Old Saybrook (CT) for the first invitational conference on Humanistic psychology.[35][36][4][37] The meeting was a co-operation between the Association for Humanistic Psychology (AHP), which sponsored the conference, the Hazen Foundation, which provided financing, and Wesleyan University, which hosted the meeting. In addition to the founding figures of Humanistic psychology; Abraham Maslow, Rollo May, James Bugental and Carl Rogers, the meeting attracted several academic profiles from the humanistic disciplines, including: Gordon Allport, George Kelly, Clark Moustakas, Gardner Murphy, Henry Murray, Robert White, Charlotte Bühler, Floyd Matson, Jacques Barzun and René Dubos.[35][4] Robert Knapp was chairman[4] and Henry Murray gave the keynote address.[37]

Among the intentions of the participants was to formulate a new vision for psychology that, in their view, took into consideration a more complete image of the person than the image presented by the current trends of Behaviorism and Freudian psychology.[35] According to Aanstoos, Serlin & Greening[4] the participants took issue with the positivistic trend in mainstream psychology at the time. The conference has been described as a historic event that was important for the academic status of Humanistic psychology[36] and its future aspirations.[37]

Subsequently, graduate programs in Humanistic Psychology at institutions of higher learning grew in number and enrollment. In 1971, humanistic psychology as a field was recognized by the American Psychological Association (APA) and granted its own division (Division 32) within the APA. Division 32 publishes its own academic journal called The Humanistic Psychologist.[4]

The major theorists considered to have prepared the ground for Humanistic Psychology are Otto Rank, Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers and Rollo May. Maslow was heavily influenced by Kurt Goldstein during their years together at Brandeis University. Psychoanalytic writers also influenced humanistic psychology. Maslow himself famously acknowledged his "indebtedness to Freud" in Towards a Psychology of Being[38] Other psychoanalytic influences include the work of Wilhelm Reich, who discussed an essentially 'good', healthy core self and Character Analysis (1933), and Carl Gustav Jung's mythological and archetypal emphasis. Other noteworthy inspirations for, and leaders of the movement include Roberto Assagioli, Gordon Allport, Medard Boss, Martin Buber (close to Jacob L. Moreno), James Bugental, Viktor Frankl, Erich Fromm, Hans-Werner Gessmann, Amedeo Giorgi, Kurt Goldstein, Sidney Jourard, R. D. Laing, Clark Moustakas, Lewis Mumford, Fritz Perls, Anthony Sutich, Thomas Szasz, Kirk J. Schneider, and Ken Wilber.[4][39] Carl Rogers was trained in psychoanalysis before developing humanistic psychology.[5]

Counseling and therapy

The aim of humanistic therapy is usually to help the client develop a stronger and healthier sense of self, also called self-actualization.[4][40] Humanistic therapy attempts to teach clients that they have potential for self-fulfillment. This type of therapy is insight-based, meaning that the therapist attempts to provide the client with insights about their inner conflicts.[41]


Humanistic psychology includes several approaches to counseling and therapy. Among the earliest approaches we find the developmental theory of Abraham Maslow, emphasizing a hierarchy of needs and motivations; the existential psychology of Rollo May acknowledging human choice and the tragic aspects of human existence; and the person-centered or client-centered therapy of Carl Rogers, which is centered on the client's capacity for self-direction and understanding of his or her own development.[40] Client-centered therapy is non-directive; the therapist listens to the client without judgement, allowing the client to come to insights by themselves.[41] The therapist should ensure that all of the client’s feelings are being considered and that the therapist has a firm grasp on the concerns of the client while ensuring that there is an air of acceptance and warmth.[5] Client-centered therapist engages in active listening during therapy sessions.[41]

A therapist cannot be completely non-directive; however, a nonjudgmental, accepting environment that provides unconditional positive regard will encourage feelings of acceptance and value.[41]

Existential psychotherapies, an application of humanistic psychology, applies existential philosophy, which emphasizes the idea that humans have the freedom to make sense of their lives. They are free to define themselves and do whatever it is they want to do. This is a type of humanistic therapy that forces the client to explore the meaning of their life, as well as its purpose. There is a conflict between having freedoms and having limitations. Examples of limitations include genetics, culture, and many other factors. Existential therapy involves trying to resolve this conflict.[5]

Another approach to humanistic counseling and therapy is Gestalt therapy, which puts a focus on the here and now, especially as an opportunity to look past any preconceived notions and focus on how the present is affected by the past. Role playing also plays a large role in Gestalt therapy and allows for a true expression of feelings that may not have been shared in other circumstances. In Gestalt therapy, non-verbal cues are an important indicator of how the client may actually be feeling, despite the feelings expressed.

Also part of the range of humanistic psychotherapy are concepts from depth therapy, holistic health, encounter groups, sensitivity training, marital and family therapies, body work, the existential psychotherapy of Medard Boss,[4] and Positive Psychology.[42]

Most recently Compassionate Communication, the rebranding of Nonviolent Communication of Marshall Rosenberg seems to be the leading edge of innovation in this field because it is one of very few psychologies with both a simple and clear model of the human psyche and a simple and clear methodology, suitable for any two persons to address and resolve interpersonal conflict without expert intervention, a first in the field.[citation needed]

George Kelly's humanistic theory is based on Fundamental Postulate, where a person acts on anticipation of future events. Stating that a person's actions are based on expectation of possible events and interpretation from past circumstances. <Sarah Mae Sincero (Feb 13, 2012). Humanistic Perspective and Personality>

Empathy and self-help

Empathy is one of the most important aspects of humanistic therapy. This idea focuses on the therapist’s ability to see the world through the eyes of the client. Without this, therapists can be forced to apply an external frame of reference where the therapist is no longer understanding the actions and thoughts of the client as the client would, but strictly as a therapist which defeats the purpose of humanistic therapy. Included in empathizing, unconditional positive regard is one of the key elements of humanistic psychology. Unconditional positive regard refers to the care that the therapist needs to have for the client. This ensures that the therapist does not become the authority figure in the relationship allowing for a more open flow of information as well as a kinder relationship between the two. A therapist practicing humanistic therapy needs to show a willingness to listen and ensure the comfort of the patient where genuine feelings may be shared but are not forced upon someone.[5] Marshall Rosenberg, one of Carl Rogers' students, emphasizes empathy in the relationship in his concept of Nonviolent Communication.

Self-help is also part of humanistic psychology: Sheila Ernst and Lucy Goodison have described using some of the main humanistic approaches in self-help groups.[43] Humanistic Psychology is applicable to self-help because it is oriented towards changing the way a person thinks. One can only improve once they decide to change their ways of thinking about themselves, once they decide to help themselves. Co-counselling, which is an approach based purely on self-help, is regarded as coming from humanistic psychology as well.[44] Humanistic theory has had a strong influence on other forms of popular therapy, including Harvey Jackins' Re-evaluation Counselling and the work of Carl Rogers, including his student Eugene Gendlin; (see Focusing) as well as on the development of the Humanistic Psychodrama by Hans-Werner Gessmann since the 80s.[45]

The ideal self

The ideal self and real self involve understanding the issues that arise from having an idea of what you wish you were as a person, and having that not match with who you actually are as a person (incongruence). The ideal self is what a person believes should be done, as well as what their core values are. The real self is what is actually played out in life. Through humanistic therapy, an understanding of the present allows clients to add positive experiences to their real self-concept. The goal is to have the two concepts of self become congruent. Rogers believed that only when a therapist was able to be congruent, a real relationship occurs in therapy. It is much easier to trust someone who is willing to share feelings openly, even if it may not be what the client always wants; this allows the therapist to foster a strong relationship.[5]


Humanistic psychology tends to look beyond the medical model of psychology in order to open up a non-pathologizing view of the person.[40] This usually implies that the therapist downplays the pathological aspects of a person's life in favour of the healthy aspects. Humanistic psychology tries to be a science of human experience, focusing on the actual lived experience of persons.[4] Therefore, a key ingredient is the actual meeting of therapist and client and the possibilities for dialogue to ensue between them. The role of the therapist is to create an environment where the client can freely express any thoughts or feelings; he does not suggest topics for conversation nor does he guide the conversation in any way. The therapist also does not analyze or interpret the client’s behavior or any information the client shares. The role of the therapist is to provide empathy and to listen attentively to the client.[5]

Societal applications

Social change

While personal transformation may be the primary focus of most humanistic psychologists, many also investigate pressing social, cultural, and gender issues.[46] In an academic anthology from 2018, British psychologist Richard House and his co-editors wrote, "From its very outset, Humanistic Psychology has engaged fulsomely and fearlessly with the social, cultural and political, in a way that much of mainstream scientific, 'positivistic' psychology has sought to avoid".[47] Some of the earliest writers who were associated with and inspired by psychological humanism explored socio-political topics.[4][47] For example:

• Alfred Adler argued that achieving a sense of community feeling is essential to human development.[48]
• Medard Boss defined health as an openness to the world, and unhealth as anything in the psyche or society that blocked or constricted that openness.[48]
• Erich Fromm argued that the totalitarian impulse is rooted in people's fear of the uncertainties and responsibilities of freedom – and that the way to overcome that fear is to dare to live life fully and compassionately.[49]
• R. D. Laing analyzed the political nature of "normal", everyday experience.[50]
• Rollo May said that people have lost their values in the modern world, and that their health and humanity depends on having the courage to forge new values appropriate to the challenges of the present.[51]
• Wilhelm Reich argued that psychological problems are often caused by sexual repression, and that the latter is influenced by social and political conditions – which can and should be changed.[52]
• Carl Rogers came to believe that political life did not have to consist of an endless series of winner-take-all battles, that it could and should consist of an ongoing dialogue among all parties. If such dialogue were characterized by respect among the parties and authentic speaking by each party, compassionate understanding and – ultimately – mutually acceptable solutions could be reached.[53][54]
• Virginia Satir was convinced that her approach to family therapy would enable individuals to expand their consciousness, become less fearful, and bring communities, cultures, and nations together.[55]

Relevant work was not confined to these pioneer thinkers. In 1978, members of the Association for Humanistic Psychology (AHP) embarked on a three-year effort to explore how the principles of humanistic psychology could be used to further the process of positive social and political change.[56] The effort included a "12-Hour Political Party", held in San Francisco in 1980, where nearly 1,400 attendees[57] discussed presentations by such non-traditional social thinkers as Ecotopia author Ernest Callenbach, Aquarian Conspiracy author Marilyn Ferguson, Person/Planet author Theodore Roszak, and New Age Politics author Mark Satin.[58] The emergent perspective was summarized in a manifesto by AHP President George Leonard. It proffered such ideas as moving to a slow-growth or no-growth economy, decentralizing and "deprofessionalizing" society, and teaching social and emotional competencies in order to provide a foundation for more humane public policies and a healthier culture.[59]

There have been many other attempts to articulate humanistic-psychology-oriented approaches to social change. For example, in 1979 psychologist Kenneth Lux and economist Mark A. Lutz called for a new economics based on humanistic psychology rather than utilitarianism.[60][61] Also in 1979, California state legislator John Vasconcellos published a book calling for the integration of liberal politics and humanistic-psychological insight.[62] From 1979–1983 the New World Alliance, a U.S. political organization based in Washington, D.C., attempted to inject humanistic-psychology ideas into political thinking and processes;[63] sponsors of its newsletter included Vasconcellos and Carl Rogers.[64]

In 1989 Maureen O'Hara, who had worked with both Carl Rogers and Paolo Freire, pointed to a convergence between the two thinkers. According to O'Hara, both focus on developing critical consciousness of situations which oppress and dehumanize.[65] Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Institute of Noetic Sciences president Willis Harman argued that significant social change cannot occur without significant consciousness change.[66] In the 21st century, humanistic psychologists such as Edmund Bourne,[67] Joanna Macy,[68] and Marshall Rosenberg[69] continued to apply psychological insights to social and political issues.

In addition to its uses in thinking about social change, humanistic psychology is considered to be the main theoretical and methodological source of humanistic social work.[70][71]

Social work

After psychotherapy, social work is the most important beneficiary of the humanistic psychology's theory and methodology.[72] These theories have produced a deep reform of the modern social work practice and theory,[73] leading, among others, to the occurrence of a particular theory and methodology: Humanistic Social Work. Most values and principles of the humanistic social work practice, described by Malcolm Payne in his book Humanistic Social Work: Core Principles in Practice, directly originate from the humanistic psychological theory and humanistic psychotherapy practice, namely creativity in human life and practice, developing self and spirituality, developing security and resilience, accountability, flexibility and complexity in human life and practice.[70]

Also, the representation and approach of the client (as human being) and social issue (as human issue) in social work is made from the humanistic psychology position. According to Petru Stefaroi, the way humanistic representation and approach of the client and his personality is realized is, in fact, the theoretical-axiological and methodological foundation of humanistic social work.[74]

In setting goals and the intervention activities, in order to solve social/human problems, there prevail critical terms and categories of the humanistic psychology and psychotherapy, such as: self-actualization, human potential, holistic approach, human being, free will, subjectivity, human experience, self-determination/development, spirituality, creativity, positive thinking, client-centered and context-centered approach/intervention, empathy, personal growth, empowerment.[75]

Creativity in corporations

Humanistic psychology's emphasis on creativity and wholeness created a foundation for new approaches towards human capital in the workplace stressing creativity and the relevance of emotional interactions. Previously the connotations of "creativity" were reserved for and primarily restricted to, working artists. In the 1980s, with increasing numbers of people working in the cognitive-cultural economy, creativity came to be seen as a useful commodity and competitive edge for international brands. This led to corporate creativity training in-service trainings for employees, led pre-eminently by Ned Herrmann at G.E. in the late 1970s.

Concepts of humanistic psychology were embraced in education and social work, peaking in the 1970s-1980s in North America. However, as with the whole language theory, training practices were too superficial in most institutional settings. Though humanistic psychology raised the bar of insight and understanding of the whole person, professionally it is primarily practiced today by individual licensed counselors and therapists. Outside of those fields humanistic psychology provides the foundation for virtually every method of Energy Medicine; but little coherence exists yet in this field to discuss it easily.

See also

• Buddhism and psychology
• California Institute of Integral Studies
• Esalen Institute
Gestalt Psychology
• Gestalt Therapy
• Humanism
• Institute of Transpersonal Psychology
• Internal Family Systems (IFS)
• Nonviolent Communication
• Organismic theory
• Personal development
• Positive psychology
• Psychosynthesis
• Saybrook University


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47. House, Richard; Kalisch, David; Maidman, Jennifer, eds. (2018). Humanistic Psychology: Current Trends and Future Prospects. Routledge, p. 73 (introduction to Part II, "Socio-Political-Cultural Perspectives"). ISBN 978-1-138-69891-8.
48. Moss, Donald. "The Roots and Genealogy of Humanistic Psychology". In Schneider, Kirk J.; Pierson, J. Fraser; Bugental, James F. T., eds. (2015). The Handbook of Humanistic Psychology: Theory, Research, and Practice. Sage Publications, 2nd ed., pp. 9–14 ("The Twentieth Century" section). ISBN 978-1-4522-6774-6.
49. Fromm, Erich (1994, orig. 1941). Escape from Freedom. Henry Holt and Company. ISBN 978-0-8050-3149-2.
50. Laing, R. D. (1967). The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise. Penguin. ISBN 978-0-14-002572-9.
51. Engler, Barbara (2013). Personality Theories: An Introduction. Wadsworth Publishing / Cengage, 9th ed., p. 357. ISBN 978-1-285-08880-8.
52. Avissar, Nissim (2016). Psychotherapy, Society, and Politics: From Theory to Practice. Palgrave Macmillan, p. 12. ISBN 978-1-137-57596-8.
53. Kirschenbaum, Howard, and Henderson, Valerie Land. "A More Human World." In Kirschenbaum and Henderson, eds. (1989). The Carl Rogers Reader. Houghton Mifflin Company, pp. 433–435. ISBN 978-0-395-48357-2.
54. Thorne, Brian, with Sanders, Pete (2012). Carl Rogers. SAGE Publications, 3rd ed., pp. 119–120. ISBN 978-1-4462-5223-9.
55. Brothers, Barbara Jo, ed. (1991). Virginia Satir: Foundational Ideas. Routledge, pp. 139–140 ("Change in Individuals Related to World Peace" section). ISBN 978-1-56024-104-1.
56. Ferguson, Marilyn (September 4, 1978). "AHP Goes Public, Launches Era of Social Involvement". Brain/Mind Bulletin. Reprinted in AHP Newsletter, October 1978, pp. 9-11 (pdf pp. 6-8). Retrieved April 12, 2013.
57. Drach, Jack (May 1980). "High Expectations, Mixed Results: A Critique of AHP's 12-Hour Political Party". AHP Newsletter, p. 41. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
58. Unidentified author (May 1980). "Presenters". AHP Newsletter, p. 4. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
59. Leonard, George (May 1980). "Sketch for a Humanistic Manifesto". AHP Newskletter, pp. 5-7. Retrieved April 12, 2013
60. Lutz, Mark; Lux, Kenneth (1979). The Challenge of Humanistic Economics. Introduction by Kenneth E. Boulding.Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Co., p. ix. ISBN 978-0-8053-6642-6.
61. George, David (Spring 1990). "Review Essay. Humanistic Economics: The New Challenge". Review of Social Economy, vol. 48, no. 1, pp. 57–62. Discusses a revised version of The Challenge of Humanistic Economics.
62. Vasconcellos, John (1979). A Liberating Vision: Politics for Growing Humans. Impact Publishers. ISBN 978-0-915166-17-6.
63. Olson, Bob; Saunders, Marilyn (December 1980). "The New World Alliance: Toward a Transformational Politics." AHP Newsletter, pp. 14–16. Retrieved May 9, 2016.
64. Stein, Arthur (1985). Seeds of the Seventies: Values, Work, and Commitment in Post-Vietnam America. University Press of New England, p. 136. ISBN 978-0-87451-343-1.
65. O'Hara, M. (1989). Person-centered approach as conscientização: The works of Carl Rogers and Paulo Freire. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 29(1), 11-35. doi:10.1177/0022167889291002.
66. Harman, Willis (1988). Global Mind Change: The New Age Revolution in the Way We Think. Warner Books edition.ISBN 978-0-446-39147-4. Substantially revised in 1998 as Global Mind Change: The Promise of the 21st Century. Introduction by Hazel Henderson. Berrett-Koehler Publishers. ISBN 978-1-57675-029-2.
67. Bourne, Edmund J. (2008). Global Shift: How a New Worldview Is Transforming Humanity. New Harbinger Publications.ISBN 978-1-57224-597-6.
68. Macy, Joanna; Johnstone, Chris (2012). Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We're In Without Going Crazy. New World Library.ISBN 978-1-57731-972-6.
69. Rosenberg, Marshall B. (2005). The Heart of Social Change: How To Make a Difference in Your World. Puddle Dancer Press.ISBN 978-1-892005-10-6.
70. Payne, M. (2011). Humanistic Social Work: Core Principles in Practice. Chicago: Lyceum, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan.
71. Stefaroi, P. (2012). Humanistic Paradigm of Social Work or Brief Introduction in Humanistic Social Work. Social Work Review, 1, pp. 161-174.
72. Ellenhorn, R. (1988). Toward a Humanistic Social Work: Social Work for Conviviality, Humanity & Society, Vol. 12, Issue 2, p.166.
73. Payne, M. (2005). Modern Social Work Theory (3rd ed.), Chicago: Lyceum Books.
74. Stefaroi, P. (2009). Humanistic Perspective on Customer in Social Work, Social Work Review, 1-2, pp. 9-34.
75. Humanistische Akademie. (1998). Humanistische Sozialarbeit, Berlin: Humanistische Akademie. Series: Humanismus aktuell, H. 3. Jg. 2.

Further reading

• Arnold, Kyle. (2014). Behind the Mirror: Reflective Listening and its Tain in the Work of Carl Rogers. The Humanistic Psychologist, 42:4 354-369.
• Bendeck Sotillos, S. (Ed.). (2013). Psychology and the Perennial Philosophy: Studies in Comparative Religion. Bloomington, IN: World Wisdom. ISBN 978-1-936597-20-8.
• Bugental, J. F. T. (Ed.). (1967). Challenges of humanistic psychology. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
• Bugental, J.F.T (1964). "The Third Force in Psychology". Journal of Humanistic Psychology 4 (1): 19–25. doi:10.1177/002216786400400102.
• Buhler, C., & Allen, M. (1972). Introduction to humanistic psychology. Monterey CA: Brooks/Cole Pub. Co.
• Chiang, H. -M., & Maslow, A. H. (1977). The healthy personality (Second ed.). New York, NY: D. Van Nostrand Co.
• DeCarvalho, R. J. (1991). The founders of humanistic psychology. New York, NY: Praeger Publishers.
• Frick, W. B. (1989). Humanistic psychology: Conversations with Abraham Maslow, Gardner Murphy, Carl Rogers. Bristol, IN: Wyndham Hall Press. (Original work published 1971)
• Fromm, E. (1955). The sane society. Oxford, England: Rinehart & Co.* Fromm, E. (1955). The sane society. Oxford, England: Rinehart & Co.
• Gessmann, H.-W. (2012). Humanistic Psychology and Humanistic Psychodrama. - Гуманистическая психология и гуманистическая психодрама. Москва -
• Gunn, Jacqueline Simon; Arnold, Kyle; Freeman, Erica. (2015). The Dynamic Self Searching for Growth and Authenticity: Karen Horney's Contribution to Humanistic Psychology. The Forum of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis and Dynamic Psychiatry, 59: 2 20-23.
• Human Potentialities: The Challenge and the Promise. (1968). Human potentialities: The challenge and the promise. St. Louis, MO: WH Green.
• Schneider, Kirk J.; Bugental, James F.T.; Pierson, J. Fraser (2001). The Handbook of Humanistic Psychology. Sage. ISBN 0761921214.
• Kress, Oliver (1993). "A new approach to cognitive development: ontogenesis and the process of initiation". Evolution and Cognition 2(4): 319-332.
• Maddi, S. R., & Costa, P. T. (1972). Humanism in personology: Allport, Maslow, and Murray. Chicago, IL: Aldine•Atherton.
• Misiak, H., & Sexton, V. S. J. A. (1973). Phenomenological, existential, and humanistic psychologies: A historical survey. New York, NY: Grune & Stratton.
• Moss, D. (1999). Humanistic and transpersonal psychology: A historical and biographical sourcebook. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
• Moustakas, C. E. (1956). The self: Explorations in personal growth. Harper & Row.
• Murphy, G. (1958). Human potentialities. New York, NY: Basic Books.
• Nevill, D. D. (1977). Humanistic psychology: New frontiers. New York, NY: Gardner Press .
• Otto, H. A. (1968). Human potentialities: The challenge and the promise. St. Louis, MO: WH Green.
• Rogers, CR, Lyon, HC Jr, Tausch, R: (2013) On Becoming an Effective Teacher - Person-centered teaching, psychology, philosophy, and dialogues with Carl R. Rogers and Harold Lyon. London: Routledge ISBN 978-0-415-81698-4
• Rowan, John (2001). Ordinary Ecstasy: The Dialectics of Humanistic Psychology (3rd ed.). Brunner-Routledge. ISBN 0-415-23633-9
• Russon, John Edward (2003). Human Experience: Philosophy, Neurosis, and the Elements of Everyday Life (pbk. ed.). State University of New York Press. ISBN 9780791457542.
• Schneider, K., Bugental, J. F. T., & Pierson, J. F. (2001). The handbook of humanistic psychology: Leading edges in theory, research, and practice. London: SAGE.
• Schneider, K.J., ed (2008). Existential-integrative Psychotherapy: Guideposts to the Core of Practice. New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-95471-6
• Severin, F. T. (1973). Discovering man in psychology: A humanistic approach. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
• Singh, J. (1979). The humanistic view of man. New Delhi, India: Indian Institute of Public Administration.
• Sutich, A. J., & Vich, M. A. (Eds.). (1969). Readings in humanistic psychology. New York, NY: Free Press.
• Welch, I., Tate, G., & Richards, F. (Eds.). (1978). Humanistic psychology: A source book. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books.
• Zucker, R. A., Rabin, A. I., Aronoff, j., & Frank, S. (Eds.). (1992). Personality structure in the life course. New York, NY: Springer.

External links

• [3]
• Association for Humanistic Psychology
• Society for Humanistic Psychology, Division 32 of the American Psychological Association
• University of West Georgia's Humanistic Psychology Program
• All about Humanistic Psychology
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Re: Humanism, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Jun 05, 2019 1:45 am

Part 1 of 2

Transpersonal psychology
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 6/4/19



The branch of explicitly humanistic thought currently making the most pronounced contributions to a more adequate image of humankind is undoubtedly that which is organizationally led by the Association for Humanistic Psychology and its ("fourth force") offspring, the Association for Transpersonal Psychology. Both being part of the so-called "human potential movement," these organizations tend to put more trust in the intuitive wisdom and good will of persons than in the formalized theories and rules of organizations, believing that there is an innate tendency toward wholesome growth and goodness in all persons that will be actualized if not prematurely frustrated by societal limitations. Both groups are recently programming many of their activities with an explicit focus on the possible evolutionary transformation of humankind, much as is described in (and partially as a result of) this study. Thus, to a large extent their emerging image is that described in Chapter 5.

-- Changing Images of Man: Prepared by the Center for the Study of Social Policy/SRI International, edited by O. W. Markley, Project Director and Willis W. Harman, Project Supervisor

Transpersonal psychology is a sub-field or "school" of psychology that integrates the spiritual and transcendent aspects of the human experience with the framework of modern psychology. It is also possible to define it as a "spiritual psychology". The transpersonal is defined as "experiences in which the sense of identity or self extends beyond (trans) the individual or personal to encompass wider aspects of humankind, life, psyche or cosmos".[1] It has also been defined as "development beyond conventional, personal or individual levels".[2]

Issues considered in transpersonal psychology include spiritual self-development, self beyond the ego, peak experiences, mystical experiences, systemic trance, spiritual crises, spiritual evolution, religious conversion, altered states of consciousness, spiritual practices, and other sublime and/or unusually expanded experiences of living.
The discipline attempts to describe and integrate spiritual experience within modern psychological theory and to formulate new theory to encompass such experience.


Lajoie and Shapiro[3] reviewed forty definitions of transpersonal psychology that had appeared in academic literature over the period from 1968 to 1991. They found that five key themes in particular featured prominently in these definitions: states of consciousness; higher or ultimate potential; beyond the ego or personal self; transcendence; and the spiritual. Based upon this study the authors proposed the following definition of transpersonal psychology: Transpersonal Psychology is concerned with the study of humanity's highest potential, and with the recognition, understanding, and realization of unitive, spiritual, and transcendent states of consciousness.

In a review of previous definitions Walsh and Vaughan[1] suggested that transpersonal psychology is an area of psychology that focuses on the study of transpersonal experiences and related phenomena. These phenomena include the causes, effects and correlates of transpersonal experiences and development, as well as the disciplines and practices inspired by them. They have also criticised many definitions of transpersonal psychology for carrying implicit assumptions, or presuppositions, that may not necessarily define the field as a whole.Note a

Hartelius, Caplan and Rardin[4] conducted a retrospective analysis of definitions of transpersonal psychology. They found three dominant themes that define the field: beyond-ego psychology, integrative/holistic psychology, and psychology of transformation. Analysis suggested that the field has moved from an early emphasis on alternative states of consciousness to a more expanded view of human wholeness and transformation. This development has, according to the authors, moved the field closer to the integral approaches of Ken Wilber and Post-Aurobindonian theorists.

Caplan (2009: p. 231) conveys the genesis of the discipline, states its mandate and ventures a definition:

Although transpersonal psychology is relatively new as a formal discipline, beginning with the publication of The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology in 1969 and the founding of the Association for Transpersonal Psychology in 1971, it draws upon ancient mystical knowledge that comes from multiple traditions. Transpersonal psychologists attempt to integrate timeless wisdom with modern Western psychology and translate spiritual principles into scientifically grounded, contemporary language. Transpersonal psychology addresses the full spectrum of human psychospiritual development – from our deepest wounds and needs, to the existential crisis of the human being, to the most transcendent capacities of our consciousness.[5]

The perspectives of holism and unity are central to the worldview of transpersonal psychology.[6]

Development of the field


Amongst the thinkers who are held to have set the stage for transpersonal studies are William James, Carl Jung, Roberto Assagioli and Abraham Maslow.[7][6][8][9][10] More recent attention has brought to light transpersonal aspects of Jean Piaget's untranslated French works, and argued that Piaget's transpersonal experiences and theoretical interests were a major motivation for Piaget's psychological research.[11] A review by Vich[12] suggests that the earliest usage of the term "transpersonal" can be found in lecture notes which William James had prepared for a semester at Harvard University in 1905-6. The meaning then, different from today's usage, was in the context of James' radical empiricism, in which there exists an intimate relation between a perceiving subject and a perceived object, recognizing that all objects are dependent on being perceived by someone.[13] Commentators[14] also mention the psychedelic movement, the psychological study of religion, parapsychology, and the interest in Eastern spiritual systems and practices, as influences that shaped the early field of transpersonal psychology.

Another important figure in the establishment of transpersonal psychology was Abraham Maslow, who had already published work regarding human peak experiences. Maslow is credited for having presented the outline of a fourth-force psychology, named transhumanistic psychology, in a lecture entitled "The Farther Reaches of Human Nature" in 1967.[15] In 1968 Maslow was among the people who announced transpersonal psychology as a "fourth force" in psychology,[16] in order to distinguish it from the three other forces of psychology: psychoanalysis, behaviorism and humanistic psychology. Early use of the term "transpersonal" can also be credited to Stanislav Grof and Anthony Sutich. At this time, in 1967–68, Maslow was also in close dialogue with Grof and Sutich regarding the name and orientation of the new field.[12] According to Powers[17] the term "transpersonal" starts to show up in academic journals from 1970 and onwards.

Both humanistic and transpersonal psychology have been associated with the Human Potential Movement. A growth center for alternative therapies and philosophies that grew out of the counter-culture of the 1960s at places like Esalen, California.[18][19][20][21][22]

Formative period

Gradually, during the 1960s, the term "transpersonal" was associated with a distinct school of psychology within the humanistic psychology movement.[16] In 1969, Abraham Maslow, Stanislav Grof and Anthony Sutich were among the initiators behind the publication of the first issue of the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, the leading academic journal in the field.[15][16][23] During the next decade significant establishments took place under the banner of transpersonal psychology. The Association for Transpersonal Psychology was established in 1972.[18] An international initiative, The International Transpersonal Psychology Association, was founded by Stanislav Grof, and held its first conference in Iceland in 1973.[23] This was soon to be followed by the founding of the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, a graduate training center, in 1975 .[18][24] The institute was founded by Robert Frager and James Fadiman[24][25] in response to the academic climate of the 1970s, and included transpersonal and spiritual approaches to psychology.[24] Soon other institutions, with transpersonal psychology programs, followed. Among these were Saybrook Graduate School, the California Institute of Asian Studies (now California Institute of Integral Studies), JFK University, and Naropa.[26]

In the 1970s the field developed through the writings of such authors as Robert Frager, Alyce and Elmer Green, Daniel Goleman, Stanley Krippner, Charles Tart, Roger Walsh, John Welwood, and Ken Wilber.[27][23] Wilber, a major figure in the early transpersonal field,[7][28][29] published a number of articles and books, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, which contributed to the development of transpersonal psychology.[30] Among the books we find The Spectrum of Consciousness (1977),[30][31]The Atman Project - a transpersonal view of human development (1980),[30][32] and the co-authored compilation Transformations of Consciousness (1986).[33][34] According to Paulson[30] Wilber provided intellectual grounding for the field of transpersonal psychology. Mainly in the form of a synthesis of diverse disciplines.

Another important contributor to the field, Michael Washburn, was drawing on the insights of Jungian depth psychology.[35] He presented his transpersonal theory in a book called The Ego and the Dynamic Ground (1988) towards the end of the 1980s.[36] According to Smith,[37] Wilber (1977) and Washburn (1988) presented the major guiding theories of transpersonal development. The 1980s were also characterized by the work of Stanislav and Christina Grof, and their concept of spiritual emergence and spiritual emergencies.[38][39][40]

The period also reflected initiatives at the organizational level. In the early 1980s a group within APA division 32 (Humanistic Psychology) argued in favor of establishing transpersonal psychology as a separate division within the framework of the American Psychological Association. A petition was presented to the APA Council in 1984, but was turned down. A new initiative was made in 1985, but it failed to win the majority of votes in the council. In 1986 the petition was presented for a third and final time, but was withdrawn by the executive board of Division 32.[4][18] The interest group later re-formed as the Transpersonal Psychology Interest Group (TPIG), and continued to promote transpersonal issues in collaboration with Division 32.[18]

The 1990s introduced new profiles who contributed insights to the field. Among these authors we find Brant Cortright, Stuart Sovatsky, David Lukoff, Robert P. Turner and Francis Lu. Cortright[41] and Sovatsky[42] made contributions to transpersonal psychotherapy. Both authors published their primary work as part of the SUNY-series.Note b Lukoff, Turner and Lu, writers in the clinical field, were the authors behind the proposal for a new diagnostic category to be included in the DSM-manual of the American Psychiatric Association. The category was called "Psychoreligious or psychospiritual problem" and was approved by the Task Force on DSM-IV in 1993, after changing its name to Religious or spiritual problem.[38][43]

While Wilber has been considered an influential writer and theoretician in the field of transpersonal psychology, his departure from the field was becoming more obvious during the decade of the 1990s. Although the date of his departure is unclear,[4] Freeman[28] notes that Wilber had been distancing himself from the label of “transpersonal”, in favour of the label of “integral”, since the mid-1990s. In 1998 he formed Integral Institute.[citation needed]

On the organizational side the decade was marked by a steady increase in membership for the Association for Transpersonal Psychology, stabilizing at approximately 3000 members in the early nineties.[16] In 1996 the British Psychological Society (the UK professional body equivalent to the APA) established a Transpersonal Psychology Section. It was co-founded by David Fontana, Ingrid Slack and Martin Treacy and was, according to Fontana, "the first Section of its kind in a Western scientific society".[44][45] In the second half of the decade commentators remarked that the field of transpersonal psychology had grown steadily[16] and rapidly.[7]

Later developments

The beginning of the 2000s was marked by the revisionary project of Jorge Ferrer, which is considered to be an important contribution to the field.[46] His main publication from this era, Revisioning Transpersonal Theory - A Participatory Vision of Human Spirituality (2001),[47] was part of the SUNY Series in Transpersonal and Humanistic Psychology.

In 2012 the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology announced that it was changing its name to Sofia University. A change that included a new profile in the academic landscape, with an expanded graduate program.[48]

Branches and related fields

Several psychological schools, or branches, have influenced the field of transpersonal psychology. Among these schools we find the Analytical psychology of Carl Jung,[7][8][41] the psychosynthesis of Roberto Assagioli,[7][9] and the humanistic psychology of Abraham Maslow.[7][9] The major transpersonal models of psychotherapy, as reviewed by Cortright,[41] are the models of Ken Wilber, C.G Jung, Michael Washburn, Stanislav Grof, and Hameed Ali.

Dr. William J. Barry established transpersonal psychology as a valid action research method in the field of education through his Ph.D. thesis and development of Transformational Quality (TQ) Theory.[49] Applications to the areas of business studies and management have been developed. Other transpersonal disciplines, such as transpersonal anthropology and transpersonal business studies, are listed in transpersonal disciplines.

Transpersonal art is one of the disciplines considered by Boucovolas,[50] in listing how transpersonal psychology may relate to other areas of transpersonal study. In writing about transpersonal art, Boucovolas begins by noting how, according to Breccia and also to the definitions employed by the International Transpersonal Association in 1971, transpersonal art may be understood as art work which draws upon important themes beyond the individual self, such as the transpersonal consciousness. This makes transpersonal art criticism germane to mystical approaches to creativity. Transpersonal art criticism, as Boucovolas notes, can be considered that which claims conventional art criticism has been too committed to stressing rational dimensions of art and has subsequently said little on art's spiritual dimensions, or as that which holds art work has a meaning beyond the individual person. Certain aspects of the psychology of Carl Jung, as well as movements such as music therapy and art therapy, may also relate to the field. Boucovolas' paper cites Breccia (1971) as an early example of transpersonal art, and claims that at the time his article appeared, integral theorist Ken Wilber had made recent contributions to the field. More recently, the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, in 2005, Volume 37, launched a special edition devoted to the media, which contained articles on film criticism that can be related to this field.

Other fields of study, that are related to transpersonal psychology, include near-death studies, parapsychology and humanistic psychology. The major findings of near-death studies are represented in the Textbook of Transpersonal Psychiatry and Psychology,[51] and in The Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Transpersonal Psychology.[52] The near-death experience is also discussed in relation to other transpersonal and spiritual categories.[38] The major findings of parapsychology are also represented in the Textbook of Transpersonal Psychiatry and Psychology,[51] and in The Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Transpersonal Psychology.[52]

There is also a strong connection between the transpersonal and the humanistic approaches to psychology, as indicated by the sourcebook of Donald Moss.[53][54] Although transpersonal psychology is considered to have started off within,[18] or developed from humanistic psychology, many of its interests, such as spirituality and modes of consciousness, extend beyond the areas of interest discussed by humanistic theory.[14] According to writers in the field[14] transpersonal psychology advocates for an expanded, spiritual, view of physical and mental health that is not necessarily addressed by humanistic psychology.

A few commentators[16][55][56] have suggested that there is a difference between transpersonal psychology and a broader category of transpersonal theories, sometimes called transpersonal studies. According to Friedman[56] this category might include several approaches to the transpersonal that lie outside the frames of science. However, according to Ferrer[57] the field of transpersonal psychology is "situated within the wider umbrella of transpersonal studies".

Transpersonal psychology may also, sometimes, be associated with New Age beliefs and pop psychology.[55][58][59][23] However, leading authors in the field, among those Sovatsky,[42] and Rowan,[60] have criticized the nature of "New Age"-philosophy and discourse. Rowan[60] even states that "The Transpersonal is not the New Age".[61]

Although some consider that the distinction between transpersonal psychology and the psychology of religion, is fading (e.g. The Oxford Handbook of Psychology and Spirituality), there is still generally considered to be a clear distinction between the two. Much of the focus of psychology of religion is concerned with issues that wouldn't be considered 'transcendent' within transpersonal psychology, so the two disciplines do have quite a distinct focus.[62]

Research, theory and clinical aspects

Research interests and methodology

The transpersonal perspective spans many research interests. The following list is adapted from the Textbook of Transpersonal Psychiatry and Psychology[51] and includes: the contributions of spiritual traditions such as Taoism, Hinduism, Yoga, Buddhism, Kabbalah, Christian mysticism, Shamanism, and Native American healing to psychiatry and psychology; meditation research and clinical aspects of meditation; psychedelics; parapsychology; anthropology; diagnosis of religious and spiritual problem; offensive spirituality and spiritual defenses; phenomenology and treatment of Kundalini; psychotherapy; near-death experience; religious cults; psychopharmacology; guided imagery; breathwork; past life therapy; ecological survival and social change; aging and adult spiritual development.

The research of transpersonal psychology is based upon both quantitative and qualitative methods,[6] but some commentators have suggested that the main contribution of transpersonal psychology has been to provide alternatives to the quantitative methods of mainstream psychology.[6] Although the field has not been a significant contributor of empirical knowledge on clinical issues,[14] it has contributed important quantitative research to areas such as the study of meditation.[6]

Theories on human development

One of the demarcations in transpersonal theory is between authors who are associated with hierarchical/holarchical, sequential, or stage-like models of human development, such as Ken Wilber and John Battista, and authors who are associated with Jungian perspectives, or models that include the principle of regression, such as Michael Washburn and Stanislav Grof.[citation needed]

Ken Wilber and John Battista

The transpersonal psychology of Ken Wilber is often mentioned as an influential theoretical framework for the field.[7][4][14][28] Wilber is often regarded as a leading theorist[4] and pioneer of the transpersonal movement,[7] but he has not been actively associated with the label for quite some time. Several commentators[4][28][63] note that he has distanced himself from the transpersonal field in favour of a new model that he calls integral. However, his psychological model still remains influential to the practice and development of transpersonal psychology,[14] and transpersonal themes remain a central part of his own work. His initial contribution to the understanding of human development was a spectrum-model of psychology,[7][14][35][64][65] originally outlined in his first books, The Spectrum of Consciousness (1977)[31] and The Atman Project - A Transpersonal View of Human Development (1980).[32] The books might superficially be described as a synthesis of east and west;[66] an integration of the spiritual philosophies of Hindu-Buddhist traditions with the developmental and spiritual psychologies of western academia.

Wilber's spectrum of consciousness consists of three broad developmental categories: the prepersonal or pre-egoic, the personal or egoic, and the transpersonal or trans-egoic.[7] A more detailed version of this spectrum theory includes nine different levels of human development, in which levels 1-3 are pre-personal levels, levels 4-6 are personal levels and levels 7-9 are transpersonal levels.[67] Later versions also include a tenth level.[68][69] The transpersonal stages, or the upper levels of the spectrum, are the home of spiritual events and developments.[14][35] The framework proposed by Wilber suggests that human development is a progressive movement through these stages of consciousness.[65][67] The model implies that different schools of psychology are associated with different levels of the spectrum,[64][66] and that each level of organization, or self-development, includes a vulnerability to certain pathologies associated with that particular level.[14][65][67] Each level also represents developmental tasks that must be properly met, or they might lead to developmental arrest.[35] A basic tenet of Wilber's transpersonal psychology is a concept called the "pre/trans fallacy". That is, a confusion of transpersonal progression with prepersonal regression.[66] According to writers in the field[64] western schools of psychology have had a tendency to regard transpersonal levels as pathological, equating them with regressive pathological conditions belonging to a lower level on the spectrum. The pre/trans fallacy describes a lack of differentiation between these two categories.

Wilbers understanding of the levels of consciousness, or reality, ranging from matter to body to mind to soul to spirit,[28] or from prepersonal to personal to transpersonal,[70][71] is often referred to as the "Great Chain of Being". This overarching framework, that is adapted from the "perennial philosophy" of the worlds great spiritual traditions, is later reformulated by Wilber as the "Great Nest of Being".[28] That is, not just a simple linear hierarchy, but a kind of nested hierarchy, or holarchy.[64][70] Human development, and evolution, is considered to move up this holarchy.[64]

The 1990s marked a move into the world of integral ideas for Wilber. According to commentators he stopped referring to his work as transpersonal, in favor of the term integral, by the mid-1990s.[28] Literature now confirms that he has shifted from transpersonal psychology to integral psychology.[4] According to Brys & Bokor Wilber presented major parts of his integral approach in the years 1997-2000.[72] The integral theory included a four quadrant model of consciousness and its development, whose dimensions were said to unfold in a sequence of stages or levels. The combination of quadrants and levels resulting in an all-quadrant, all-level approach. The theory also included the concept of holon, "a whole that is simultaneously part of some other whole", and holarchy, "hierarchical holons within holons".[73] Some of these ideas were already presented with the publication of Sex, Ecology, Spirituality in 1995.[68][73] According to reviewers,[74][75] the spiritual dimension was central to Wilber's integral vision.

Similar to the model presented by Wilber is the information theory of consciousness presented by John Battista. Battista suggests that the development of the self-system, and of human psychology, consists of a series of transitions in the direction of enhanced maturity and psychological stability, and in the direction of transpersonal and spiritual categories. His model presents a series of developmental tasks with corresponding levels of consciousness and psychopathology, and discusses therapeutic interventions in relation to the different levels and transitions.[76]

Michael Washburn and Stanislav Grof

Michael Washburn presents a model of human development that is informed by psychoanalysis, object-relations theory, and the depth psychology of the Jungian perspective.[35][77][77] In the context of transpersonal psychotherapy Washburn's approach has been described as a «revision of Jung's analytical psychology».[78] In, what is described as his seminal work, The Ego and the Dynamic Ground: A Transpersonal Theory of Development (1988/1995)[36] he presents a "dynamic-dialectical model of development".[79] The model is updated in later publications, such as Embodied spirituality in a sacred world (2003).[77][80]

According to Washburn transpersonal development follows the principles of a spiraling path.[77] Central to his model is the understanding of a dynamic ground; a deep level of the unconscious,[77] with spiritual qualities,[81] that the person is in contact with in the prepersonal stage of development.[77] According to commentators Washburn describes three stages of human development; the pre-personal, the personal and the transpersonal,[77] also described as; pre-egoic, egoic and trans-egoic.[81] In the pre-stage (up to age 5) the child is integrated with the dynamic ground. Later in life this contact is weakened, and the prepersonal stage is followed by a new stage of development where the ego is dissociated from the dynamic ground.[77][81] This happens through the process of repression,[79][81] and marks the stage of adulthood,[77] and of the mental ego (egoic stage)[79][81]

However, later in life there is the possibility of a re-integration with the dynamic ground, a trans-egoic stage.[77][79][81] According to Washburn this transpersonal development requires a kind of U-turn, or going back to the dynamic ground, in order for the ego to become integrated with its unconscious dynamics.[35][77][79][82] This aspect of Wasburn's model is described by commentators[82] as «a going back before a higher going forth». A regression that paves the way for transcendence,[35] and a fully embodied life.[77] Washburn's approach to transpersonal development is often summed up as «regression in the service of transcendence»[35][77][79][81] which, according to Lev,[79] is a "twist of the phrase, regression in the service of the ego".

Washburn has contrasted his own perspective, which he calls spiral-dynamic, to the developmental theory of Ken Wilber, which he calls structural-hierarchical.[81][83] The differing views of Washburn and Wilber are mentioned by several commentators.[77][81][82]

Stanislav Grof, on the other hand, operates with a cartography consisting of three kinds of territories: the realm of the sensory barrier and the personal unconscious (described by psychoanalysis), the perinatal or birth-related realm (organizing principles for the psyche), and the transpersonal realm.[28][35] According to this view proper engagement with the first two realms sets the stage for an ascent to the third, transpersonal, realm.[35] His early therapy, and research, was carried out with the aid of psychedelic substances such as lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), psilocybin, mescaline, dipropyl-tryptamine (DPT), and methylene-dioxy-amphetamine (MDA).[84][85] Later, when LSD was prohibited, Grof developed other methods of therapy, such as holotropic breathwork.[85][86]

His early findings,[87] which were based on observations from LSD research, uncovered four major types of experiences that, according to Grof, correspond to levels in the human unconscious: (1) Abstract and aesthetic experiences; (2) Psychodynamic experiences; (3) Perinatal experiences; (4) Transpersonal experiences. Grof returns to many of these findings in later books.[85] Psychodynamic levels, which correspond to the theory of Sigmund Freud, is the area of biographical memories, emotional problems, unresolved conflicts and fantasies. Perinatal levels, which correspond to the theories of Otto Rank, is the area of physical pain and agony, dying and death, biological birth, aging, disease and decrepitude. Transpersonal levels, corresponding to the theories of C.G. Jung, is the area of a number of spiritual, paranormal and transcendental experiences, including ESP phenomena, ego transcendence and other states of expanded consciousness. In order to bring structure to the psychodynamic and perinatal levels Grof introduces two governing systems, or organizing principles: The COEX-system, which is the governing system for the psychodynamic level, and the Basic Perinatal Matrices, which represent the birthing stages and is the governing system for the perinatal level.[85][87]

Grof applies regressional modes of therapy (originally with the use of psychedelic substances, later with other methods) in order to seek greater psychological integration. This has led to the confrontation of constructive and deconstructive models of the process leading to genuine mental health: what Wilber sees as a pre/trans fallacy does not exist for Washburn and Grof, for pre-rational states may be genuinely transpersonal, and re-living them may be essential in the process of achieving genuine sanity.[88]

Stuart Sovatsky

The idea of development is also featured in the spiritual psychotherapy and psychology of Stuart Sovatsky. His understanding of human development, which is largely informed by east/west psychology and the tradition and hermeneutics of Yoga, places the human being in the midst of spiritual energies and processes outlined in yogic philosophy. According to Sovatsky these are maturational processes, affecting body and soul.[42][89] Sovatsky adapts the concept of Kundalini as the maturational force of human development. According to his model a number of advanced yogic processes are said to assist in "maturation of the ensouled body".[90]

Transpersonal theory of Jorge Ferrer

The scholarship of Jorge Ferrer introduces a more pluralistic and participatory perspective on spiritual and ontological dimensions. In his revision of transpersonal theory Ferrer questions three major presuppositions, or frameworks for interpretation, that have been dominant in transpersonal studies. These are the frameworks of Experientalism (the transpersonal understood as an individual inner experience); Inner empiricism (the study of transpersonal phenomena according to the standards of empiricist science); and perennialism (the legacy of the perennial philosophy in transpersonal studies).[20][28][47][63][91][92] Although representing important frames of reference for the initial study of transpersonal phenomena, Ferrer believes that these assumptions have become limiting and problematic for the development of the field.[92]

As an alternative to these major epistemological and philosophical trends Ferrer focuses upon the great variety, or pluralism, of spiritual insights and spiritual worlds that can be disclosed by transpersonal inquiry. In contrast to the transpersonal models that are informed by the "perennial philosophy" he introduces the idea of a “dynamic and indeterminate spiritual power.”[47][92] Along these lines he also introduces the metaphor of the "ocean of emancipation". According to Ferrer "the ocean of emancipation has many shores". That is, different spiritual truths can be reached by arriving at different spiritual shores.[47]

The second aspect of his revision, "the participatory turn", introduces the idea that transpersonal phenomena are participatory and co-creative events. He defines these events as "emergences of transpersonal being that can occur not only in the locus of an individual, but also in a relationship, a community, a collective identity or a place." This participatory knowing is multidimensional, and includes all the powers of the human being (body/heart/soul), as understood from a transpersonal framework.[47][63][83][91] According to Jaenke[92] Ferrer's vision includes a spiritual reality that is plural and multiple, and a spiritual power that may produce a wide range of revelations and insights, which in turn may be overlapping, or even incompatible.

Ferrer's approach to participatory thinking has been taken-up in the context of psychoanalysis. Drawing from Ferrer's criticisms of perennialism, Robin S. Brown[93] adopts the participatory paradigm as a means to fostering clinical pluralism.

Transpersonal psychotherapy

Early contributions to the field of transpersonal psychotherapy includes the approach of Walsh & Vaughan. In their outline of transpersonal therapy they emphasize that the goals of therapy includes both traditional outcomes, such as symptom relief and behaviour change, as well as work at the transpersonal level, which may transcend psychodynamic issues. Both Karma Yoga and altered states of consciousness are part of the transpersonal approach to therapy. According to Walsh & Vaughan the context of karma yoga, and service, should also facilitate a process whereby the psychological growth of the therapist could provide supporting environment for the growth of the client.[94]

Several authors in the field have presented an integration of western psychotherapy with spiritual psychology, among these Stuart Sovatsky and Brant Cortright. In his reformulation of western psychotherapy Sovatsky addresses the questions of time, temporality and soteriology from the perspectives of east/west psychology and spirituality. Besides drawing on the insights of post-freudians, such as D.W. Winnicott, Sovatsky integrates his approach to psychotherapy with an expanded understanding of body and mind, informed by the philosophy of Yoga.[42][89]

Cortright, on the other hand, has reviewed the field of transpersonal psychotherapy and the major transpersonal models of psychotherapy, including Wilber, Jung, Washburn, Grof and Ali, as well as existential, psychoanalytic, and body-centered approaches. He also presents a unifying theoretical framework for the field of transpersonal psychotherapy, and identifies the dimension of human consciousness as central to the transpersonal realm. He also addresses clinical issues related to meditation, spiritual emergency, and altered states of consciousness.[78][41] According to commentators[78] Cortright challenges the traditional view of transpersonal psychology that a working through of psychological issues is necessary for progression on the spiritual path. Instead he suggests that these two lines of development are intertwined, and that they come to the foreground with shifting emphasis.

Within contemporary psychoanalysis it has been suggested that, from a clinical point of view, postulating a transcendent dimension to human experience is theoretically necessary in promoting non-reductive approaches to therapy.[95]

Clinical and diagnostic issues

Transpersonal psychology has also brought clinical attention to the topic of spiritual crisisNote d, a category that is not ordinarily recognized by mainstream psychology. Among the clinical problems associated with this category, according to transpersonal theory, are: psychiatric complications related to mystical experience; near-death experience; Kundalini awakening; shamanic crisis (also called shamanic illness); psychic opening; intensive meditation; separation from a spiritual teacher; medical or terminal illness; addiction.[38][96] The terms "spiritual emergence" and "spiritual emergency" were coined by Stanislav and Christina Grof[39][97] in order to describe the appearance of spiritual phenomena, and spiritual processes, in a persons life.Note e The term "spiritual emergence" describes a gradual unfoldment of spiritual potential with little disruption in psychological, social and occupational functioning.[38][96] In cases where the emergence of spiritual phenomena is intensified beyond the control of the individual it may lead to a state of "spiritual emergency". A spiritual emergency may cause significant disruption in psychological, social and occupational functioning.[38][96][35][98] Many of the psychological difficulties described above can, according to Transpersonal theory, lead to episodes of spiritual emergency.[38]Note f

At the beginning of the 1990s a group of psychologists and psychiatrist, affiliated with the field of transpersonal psychology, saw the need for a new psychiatric category involving religious and spiritual problems. Their concern was the possibility of misdiagnosis of these problems.[38][26][43][97] Based on an extensive literature review, and networking with the American Psychiatric Association Committee on Religion and Psychiatry, the group made a proposal for a new diagnostic category entitled "Psychoreligious or Psychospiritual Problem".[38][43] The proposal was submitted to the Task Force on DSM-IV in 1991. The category was approved by the Task Force in 1993, after changing the title to "Religious or Spiritual Problem".[38][99][100] It is included in the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), as a minor category. [7][98][101][102]Note g.

According to the authors of the proposal[38] the new category "addressed problems of a religious or spiritual nature that are the focus of clinical attention and not attributable to a mental disorder". In their view there exist criteria for differentiating between spiritual problems and mental disorders such as psychosis.[98][103] This concern is also addressed in the DSM-IV Sourcebook.[100][104][105] According to Lukoff[97] and Lu,[106] co-authors of the category, religious or spiritual problems are not classified as mental disorders. Foulks[107] also notes that the new diagnosis is included in the DSM-IV-TR nonillness category (Other Conditions That May Be a Focus of Clinical Attention).

Addition of the new category to the DSM-system was noticed by a few psychiatric publications,[7][107][106][105][108] and the New York Times.[99] Several commentators have also offered their viewpoints. Chinen[16] notes that the inclusion marks "increasing professional acceptance of transpersonal issues", while Sovatsky[42] sees the addition as an admittance of spiritually oriented narratives into mainstream clinical practice. Smart and Smart[109] recognizes the addition of the category, and similar improvements in the fourth version, as a step forward for the cultural sensitivity of the DSM manual. Greyson,[110] representing the field of Near-death studies, concludes that the diagnostic category of Religious or spiritual problem "permits differentiation of near-death experiences and similar experiences from mental disorders". In a study from 2000 Milstein and colleagues discussed the construct validity of the new DSM-IV category religious or spiritual problem (V62.89).[104]

According to commentators[14] transpersonal psychology recognizes that transcendent psychological states, and spirituality, might have both negative and positive effects on human functioning. Health-promoting expressions of spirituality include development and growth, but there also exist health-compromising expressions of spirituality.

Organizations, publications and locations

A leading institution within the field of transpersonal psychology is the Association for Transpersonal Psychology, which was founded in 1972.[111] Past presidents of the association include Alyce Green, James Fadiman, Frances Vaughan, Arthur Hastings, Daniel Goleman, Robert Frager, Ronald Jue, Jeanne Achterberg and Dwight Judy.[112][113] An international organization, The International Transpersonal Psychology Association, was founded in the 1970s.[23] Also, a European counterpart to the American institution, the European Transpersonal Psychology Association (ETPA), was founded much later.[14] The leading graduate school is Sofia University, formerly the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology.[24][114][115] According to sources[24] the university is private, non-sectarian, and accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Leading academic publications within the field include the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology and the International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. Smaller publications include the Transpersonal Psychology Review, the journal of the Transpersonal Psychology Section of the British Psychological Society. In 1996 Basic Books published the Textbook of Transpersonal Psychiatry and Psychology, a standard text that included a thorough overview of the field.[7][51] In 1999 Greenwood Press published a title called Humanistic and transpersonal psychology: A historical and biographical sourcebook,[54][116][117] which includes biographical and critical essays on central figures in humanistic and transpersonal psychology.[53] A recent publication, The Wiley Blackwell Handbook of Transpersonal Psychology,[111][118] is one of the latest and most updated introductions to the field of transpersonal psychology.[52][119]

Although the perspectives of transpersonal psychology has spread to a number of interest groups across the US and Europe, its origins was in California, and the field has always been strongly associated with institutions on the west coast of the US.[4] Both the Association for Transpersonal Psychology and the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology were founded in the state of California, and a number of the fields leading theorists come from this area of the US.[4]
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Re: Humanism, by Wikipedia

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Part 2 of 2

Reception, recognition and criticism


Reception of Transpersonal psychology, in the surrounding culture, reflects a wide range of views and opinions, including both recognition and skepticism. Transpersonal psychology has been the topic of a few academic articles and book reviews in other academic fields, including Psychiatry,[7][53] Behavioral Science,[54] Psychology,[21][35][118][119][120] Social Work,[37][67] Consciousness Studies,[28][121][122] Religious Studies,[10][29][63][123] Pastoral psychology,[71] and Library Science.[124]

Several commentators have expressed their views on the field of transpersonal psychology and its contribution to the academic landscape. Hilgard,[120] representing the contemporary psychology of the early 1980s, regarded transpersonal psychology as a fringe-movement that attracted the more extreme followers of Humanistic psychology. He did however remark that such movements might enrich the topics that psychologists study, even though most psychologists choose not to join the movement. Adams,[29] who criticized the theory of Wilber from a theistic perspective, also observed the fringe-status of transpersonal psychology, but noted that the work of Wilber had provided the field with some amount of legitimacy. Cowley and Derezotes,[67] representing the Social Work theory of the 1990s, regarded transpersonal psychology as relevant for the development of spiritual sensitivity in the helping disciplines. Bidwell,[71] representing the field of pastoral psychology, saw transpersonal psychology as a developing field that had largely been ignored by his own profession. He did however believe that transpersonal psychology could contribute to the areas of pastoral theology and pastoral counseling. Elkins,[125] writing for the field of spiritually oriented psychotherapy, considered that transpersonal psychology had grown away from its roots in the humanistic movement and that it had established its own theories and perspectives.

Taylor,[23] representing the field of Humanistic Psychology, presented a balanced review of transpersonal psychology in the early nineties. On the negative side he mentioned transpersonal Psychology's tendency toward being philosophically naive, poorly financed, almost anti-intellectual, and somewhat overrated as far as its influences. On the positive side he noted the fields integrated approach to understanding the phenomenology of scientific method; the centrality of qualitative research; and the importance of interdisciplinary communication. In conclusion he suggested that the virtues of transpersonal psychology may, in the end, outweigh its defects. In a later article Taylor[21] regarded transpersonal psychology as a visionary American folk-psychology with little historical relation to American academic psychology, except through its association with Humanistic psychology and the categories of transcendence and consciousness.

Ruzek,[126] who interviewed founders of transpersonal psychology, as well as historians of American psychology, found that the field had made little impact on the larger field of psychology in America. Among the factors that contributed to this situation was mainstream psychology's resistance to spiritual and philosophical ideas, and the tendency of Transpersonal psychologists to isolate themselves from the larger context.

However, a few small developments have occurred in the clinical field. In 1992 The Menninger Clinic organized its first symposium on transpersonal psychiatry. In 1994 the American Psychiatric Association included a new, but minor, diagnostic category (Religious or spiritual problem) in its official manual (DSM-IV), following a proposal from clinicians associated with transpersonal psychology and psychiatry.[16] In 2007 educators at the University of California (Davis) presented a new academic program for its psychiatric residents. The program was designed to improve culturally appropriate diagnosis and treatment in the Sacramento area. It included training in religion and spirituality, as well as insights from transpersonal psychiatry, as part of the PGY-residency.[127] Lastly, the first book to survey the field of spiritually oriented psychotherapy, published by the American Psychological Association in 2005, included a chapter on the Transpersonal–Integrative Approach to therapy.[128]

A few small attempts have been made to introduce Transpersonal psychology to the classroom setting. Perspectives from transpersonal psychology are represented in a widely used college textbook on personality theories,[129][130] marking the entrance of transpersonal themes into mainstream academic settings. In this book author Barbara Engler[129] asks the question, "Is spirituality an appropriate topic for psychological study?" She offers a brief account of the history of transpersonal psychology and a peek into its possible future. The classroom dimension is also present in a book on personality theories by authors Robert Frager and James Fadiman.[131] In this publication they provide an account of the contributions of many of the key historic figures who have shaped and developed transpersonal psychology (in addition to discussing and explaining important concepts and theories germane to it), which serves to promote an understanding of the discipline in classroom settings.

Noting that the majority of mainstream psychology departments rarely offer training programs in transpersonal issues and practices as part of their curriculum,[35] graduate programs in humanistic and transpersonal psychology have been made available at a few North-American Universities.[4][16][67][132]Note c Among these we find John F. Kennedy University in Orinda, which included transpersonal psychology in its holistic studies program,[133] and Burlington College in Vermont.[59] In 2012 Columbia University announced that they were integrating spiritual psychology, similar to the perspectives taught at Sofia University (California), into their clinical psychology program.[115]

However, although transpersonal psychology has experienced some minor recognition from the surrounding culture,[16] it has also faced a fair amount of skepticism and criticism from the same surroundings. Several commentators have mentioned the controversial aspects of transpersonal psychology. Zdenek,[34] representing a moderate criticism from the 1980s, noted that the field was regarded as controversial since its inception. Other commentators, such as Friedman,[55] and Adams,[29] also mention the controversial status of the field. In 1998 the San Francisco Chronicle reported on the holistic studies program at the John F. Kennedy University in Orinda, which included a transpersonal psychology department. The program was considered to be unique at the time, but also controversial. Several commentators presented their skepticism towards the program.[133] Another controversial aspect concerns the topic of psychedelic substances.[134] Commenting upon the controversial status of psychedelic and entheogenic substances in contemporary culture, authors Elmer, MacDonald & Friedman[14] observe that these drugs have been used for therapeutic effect in the transpersonal movement. The authors do however note that this is not the most common form of transpersonal intervention in contemporary therapy.

According to Lukoff and Lu[26] the American Psychological Association expressed some concerns about the "unscientific" nature of transpersonal psychology at the time of the petition (see above) to the APA. Rowan[52] notes that the Association had serious reservations about opening up a Transpersonal Psychology Division. The petitions for divisional status failed to win the majority of votes in the APA council, and the division was never established.[18] Commentators also mention that transpersonal psychology's association with the ideas of religion was one of the concerns that prohibited it from becoming a separate division of the APA at the time of the petition in 1984.[18]

Commenting on the state of the field in the mid-nineties Chinen[16] noted that professional publications, until then, had been hesitant to publish articles that dealt with transpersonal subjects. Adams[63] notes that the field has struggled for recognition, while Freeman[28] mentions that the early field of transpersonal psychology was aware of the possibility that it would be rejected by the scientific community. The method of inner empiricism, based on disciplined introspection, was to be a target of skepticism from outsiders in the years to come.

Criticism, skepticism and response

Criticism and skepticism towards the field of transpersonal psychology has been presented by a wide assortment of commentators,[16] and includes both writers from within its own ranks, as well as writers representing other fields of psychology or philosophy. However, Chinen[16] notes that a few critics did not differentiate between the field of transpersonal psychology on the one hand, and a wider field of transpersonal theories on the other. The necessity of a distinction between these two categories is also mentioned by other commentators.[55]

Critical remarks from within the field include the observations of Lukoff and Lu, and the criticism of Walach. In their contribution to the field of spiritually oriented psychotherapy Lukoff and Lu[26] discuss the strengths and weaknesses of transpersonal psychotherapy and transpersonal psychology. Among the strengths is its basis of theory and practice that allows for communication and dialogue with other cultures, and native healers. Among the weaknesses is a lack of theoretical agreement, which has led to internal debates, and attention from critics who question the validity of the transpersonal approach. Another source, close to the field, is The Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Transpersonal Psychology. In a chapter from this book[135] Walach brings attention to unsolved problems within the field. According to the editors the criticism represents "the sort of self-criticism that is mandatory within a responsible discipline".

Criticism from other profiles, close to the field, also include the observations of Ken Wilber and Jorge Ferrer. Wilber, one of the early profiles within the transpersonal field, has repeatedly announced the demise of transpersonal psychology.[136][137] However, the early transpersonal theory of Wilber was itself subject to criticism in the 1980s, most notably from humanistic psychologists.[138] Even though Wilber has distanced himself from transpersonal psychology in favour of integral philosophy,[4][28] his transpersonal model has continued to attract both recognition[67][71] and criticism.[29][71]

Among the critics of Wilber we also find Ferrer,[28][63] who in 2001 published a revision of transpersonal theory. In this revision[47] he criticized transpersonal psychology for being too loyal to the perennial philosophy, for introducing a subtle Cartesianism, and for being too preoccupied with intrasubjective spiritual states (inner empiricism). As an alternative to these trends he suggests a participatory vision of human spirituality that honors a wide assortment of spiritual insights, spiritual worlds and places.

Criticism from humanistic psychology

One of the earliest criticisms of the field was issued by the humanistic psychologist Rollo May, who disputed the conceptual foundations of transpersonal psychology.[18] According to commentators May also criticized the field for neglecting the personal dimension of the psyche by elevating the pursuit of the transcendental,[4] and for neglecting the "dark side of human nature".[26] Commentators[4] note that these reservations, expressed by May, might reflect what later theorists have referred to as "spiritual bypassing". Other commentators[26] have suggested that May only focused on "New Age popularizations of transpersonal approaches". However, criticism has also come from other profiles in the field of humanistic psychology. Eugene Taylor and Kirk Schneider have raised objections to several aspects of transpersonal psychology.[16]

Relationship to science and scientific criteria

The field of transpersonal psychology has also been criticized for lacking conceptual, evidentiary, and scientific rigor. In a review of criticisms of the field, Cunningham writes, "philosophers have criticized transpersonal psychology because its metaphysics is naive and epistemology is undeveloped. Multiplicity of definitions and lack of operationalization of many of its concepts has led to a conceptual confusion about the nature of transpersonal psychology itself (i.e., the concept is used differently by different theorists and means different things to different people). Biologists have criticized transpersonal psychology for its lack of attention to biological foundations of behavior and experience. Physicists have criticized transpersonal psychology for inappropriately accommodating physic concepts as explanations of consciousness."[139]

Others, such as Friedman,[55][56] has suggested that the field is underdeveloped as a field of science and that it has, consequently, not produced a good scientific understanding of transpersonal phenomena. In his proposal for a new division of labour within the transpersonal field he suggests a distinction between transpersonal studies, a broad category that might include non-scientific approaches, and transpersonal psychology, a more narrow discipline that should align itself more closely with the principles of scientific psychology. However, this criticism has been answered by Ferrer[140] who argues that Friedmans proposal attaches transpersonal psychology to a naturalistic metaphysical worldview that is unsuitable for the domain of spirituality.

Albert Ellis, a cognitive psychologist and humanist, has questioned the results of transpersonal psychotherapy,[141] the scientific status of transpersonal psychology, and its relationship to religion, mysticism and authoritarian belief systems.[142][143] This criticism has been answered by Wilber[144] who questioned Ellis' understanding of the domain of religion, and the field of Transpersonal Psychology; and Walsh[145] who questioned Ellis' critique of nonrational-emotive therapies.

Other commentators, such as Matthews,[78] are more supportive of the field, but remarks that a weakness of transpersonal psychology, and transpersonal psychotherapy, has been its reliance on anecdotal clinical experiences rather than research. Adams,[121] writing from the perspective of Consciousness Studies, has problematized the concept of introspective 'data' that appears to make up the "database" of transpersonal psychology. Walach and Runehov have responded to this issue.[122]

Transpersonal psychology has been noted for undervaluing quantitative methods as a tool for improving our knowledge of spiritual and transpersonal categories. This is, according to commentators,[14] a consequence of a general orientation within the field that regards spiritual and transpersonal experience to be categories that defy conceptualization and quantification, and thereby not well suited for conventional scientific inquiry.

Use of Buddhist concepts

From the standpoint of Buddhism and Dzogchen, Elías Capriles[146] [147][148] has objected that transpersonal psychology fails to distinguish between the transpersonal condition of nirvana, which is inherently liberating, those transpersonal conditions which are within samsara and which as such are new forms of bondage (such as the four realms of the arupyadhatu or four arupa lokas of Buddhism, in which the figure-ground division dissolves but there is still a subject-object duality), and the neutral condition in which neither nirvana nor samsara are active that the Dzogchen teachings call kun gzhi, in which there is no subject-object duality but the true condition of all phenomena (dharmata) is not patent (and which includes all conditions involving nirodhah or cessation, including nirodhah samapatti, nirvikalpa samadhis and the samadhi or turiya that is the supreme realization of Patañjali's Yoga darshana). In the process of elaborating what he calls a meta-transpersonal psychology, Capriles has carried out conscientious refutations of Wilber, Grof and Washburn, which according to Macdonald & Friedman[149] will have important repercussions on the future of transpersonal psychology.

Other criticism

Gary T. Alexander has criticized the relationship between transpersonal psychology and the ideas of William James. Although the ideas of James are considered central to the transpersonal field, Alexander[123] thought that transpersonal psychology did not have a clear understanding of the negative dimensions of consciousness (such as evil) expressed in James' philosophy. This serious criticism has been absorbed by later transpersonal theory, which has been more willing to reflect on these important dimensions of human existence.[150]

Skepticism towards the concept of spiritual emergencies, and the transpersonal dimension in psychiatry, has been expressed by Gray.[151]

According to Cunningham, transpersonal psychology has been criticized by some Christian authors as being "a mishmash of 'New Age' ideas that offer an alternative faith system to vulnerable youths who turn their backs on organized religion (Adeney, 1988)".[139]

According to Davis[6] Transpersonal psychology has been criticized for emphasizing oneness and holism at the expense of diversity.

See also

• Indian psychology
• Near-death studies
• Neurotheology
• Transpersonal
• Transpersonal anthropology


a.^ Walsh & Vaughan (1993: 202), trying to improve on other definitions, have proposed a definition which, in their view, entail fewer presuppositions, is less theoryladen, and more closely tied to experience.
b.^ The State University of New York Press (Albany, NY) divides their publications into categories, or series, representing different academic fields. Among the fields represented as a category we find the SUNY Series in Transpersonal and Humanistic Psychology. Another category, the SUNY series in the philosophy of psychology, also includes work from Transpersonal writers.
c.^ Among the universities and colleges that are associated with transpersonal theory, as part of their research or curriculum, we find: Sofia University (California) (US), California Institute of Integral Studies (US), Notre Dame de Namur University (US), Saybrook University (US), Liverpool John Moores University (UK), Naropa University (US), John F. Kennedy University (California) (US), University of West Georgia (US), Atlantic University (US), Burlington College (US), the University of Northampton (UK), Leeds Metropolitan University (UK) and Pacifica Graduate Institute (US).
d.^ Transpersonal psychology often differentiates between the concepts of religion and spirituality.[1][38][67] Commentators[14] note that religion, in a transpersonal context, has to do with the individuals involvement in a social institution and its doctrines, while spirituality has to do with the individuals experience of a transcendent dimension. The authors[38][96] of the DSM-proposal make the same differentiation: Religious problems may be caused by a change in denominational membership; conversion to a new religion; intensification of religious belief or practice; loss or questioning of faith; guilt; joining or leaving a new religious movement or cult. Spiritual problems may result from the variables mentioned above: mystical experience; near-death experience; Kundaliniawakening; shamanic crisis; psychic opening; intensive meditation; separation from a spiritual teacher; medical or terminal illness; addiction.
e.^ Precedents of Grof's approach in this regard are found in Jung, Perry, Dabrowski, Bateson, Laing, Cooper and antipsychiatry in the widest sense of the term.
f.^ In addition to this, Whitney (1998) has also made an argument in favor of understanding mania as a form of spiritual emergency.[152]
g.^ See DSM-IV: "Other Conditions That May Be a Focus of Clinical Attention", Religious or Spiritual Problem, Code V62.89.[101]


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9. Battista, John. "Abraham Maslow and Roberto Assagioli: Pioneers of Transpersonal Psychology". In Scotton, Bruce W., Chinen, Allan B. and Battista, John R., Eds. (1996) Textbook of Transpersonal Psychiatry and Psychology. New York: Basic Books
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Further reading

• Davis, John V. (2003). Transpersonal psychology in Taylor, B. and Kaplan, J., Eds. The Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature. Bristol, England: Thoemmes Continuum.
• Gripentrog, Stephanie (2018). Mapping the Boundaries between Science and Religion: Psychology, Psychiatry, and Near-Death Experiences. In: Lüddeckens, D., & Schrimpf, M. (2018). Medicine - religion - spirituality: Global perspectives on traditional, complementary, and alternative healing. Bielefeld: transcript Verlag. ISBN 978-3-8376-4582-8, pp.241-272.
• Rowan, John. (1993) The Transpersonal: Psychotherapy and Counselling. London: Routledge
• Schneider, Kirk (1987). "The Deified Self: A Centaur Response to Wilber and the Transpersonal Movement". Journal of Humanistic Psychology. 27: 196–216.
• Taylor, Steve. (2015, September 15). "Transpersonal Psychology: Exploring the Farther Reaches of Human Nature". Psychology Today.

External links

• The Association for Transpersonal Psychology (ATP)
• European Transpersonal Association
• International Journal of Transpersonal Studies Organ of the International Transpersonal Association
• British Psychological Society - Transpersonal Psychology Section
• Sofia University (formerly the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology)
• Journal of Transpersonal Research Organ of the European Transpersonal Association
• Transpersonal Psychology: A bibliography The most complete bibliography regarding transpersonal psychology, compiled by Andre Lefebvre
• International Journal for Transformative Research
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