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PostSubject: Definition of Transpersonal Psychology   Tue Apr 20, 2010 2:29 pm

Definition of Transpersonal Psychology
Psychological Approaches to Spirituality and Human Experience
Share Article | Aug 31, 2009 Tami Brady

Since its inception in the 1960s, transpersonal therapy has remained somewhat informal in its structure and approach. For this reason, an exact definition of transperson

In his initial presentation of the subject in the premier issue of the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, Anthony Sutich said, “The emerging transpersonal psychology ('fourth force') is concerned specifically with the empirical, scientific study of, and responsible implementation of the findings relevant to, becoming, individual and species-wide meta-needs, ultimate values, unitive consciousness, peak experiences, values, ecstacy, mystical experience, awe, being, self-actualization, essence, bliss, wonder, ultimate meaning, transcendence of the self, spirit, oneness, cosmic awareness, individual and species-wide synergy, maximal interpersonal encounter, sacralization of everyday life, transcendental phenomena, cosmic self-humor and playfulness; maximal sensory awareness, responsiveness and expression; and related concepts, experiences and activities [Some Considerations Regarding Transpersonal Psychology (1969)].”

Sutich’s very detailed view of transpersonal psychology provides a glimpse into the widespread possibilities and potential uses for this type of approach. It includes a very comprehensive outline of the types of experiences that Wikipedia simply describes as mystical. Moreover, the voice of the piece is decidedly more scientific.

Psychotherapy and Transpersonal Experiences

Unfortunately, the detailed description given by Sutich is extremely cumbersome. Therefore, over time, various researchers have attempted to create a more compact definition. In Observations on the Teaching and Supervision of Transpersonal Psychology (1985), Bruce Scotten writes, “Transpersonal psychotherapy can be defined as psychotherapy which seeks to establish a conscious and growth producing link between the patient and transpersonal experience.”

Transpersonal Psychology, A Modern Concise Definition

Denise Lajoie and Sam Shapiro later re-examine this issue in Definitions of Transpersonal Psychology: The First Twenty-Three Years (1992) and come up with a slightly longer and more accurate description. It reads, “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.”

Despite that Sutich’s explanation was far more detailed, Lajoie and Shapiro’s entry is much more concise. Not only does this later description mention the mystical and spiritual aspects studied by transpersonal psychologists but also brings forth the notion of a non-dualistic whole. There is also a suggestion in this later version that transpersonal matters are not just restricted to a small percentage of the population. This line of thinking illustrates an evolution of thought over the years relative to the definition of transpersonal psychology.

Read more at Suite101: Definition of Transpersonal Psychology: Psychological Approaches to Spirituality and Human Experience http://psychology.suite101.com/article.cfm/definition_of_transpersonal_psychology#ixzz0lby1aasn
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PostSubject: THE ORIGIN OF TRANSPERSONAL PSYCHOLOGY   Tue Apr 20, 2010 2:56 pm


The ‘creation’ of the word TRANSPERSONAL

The ‘creation’ of the word Transpersonal is duo to William James in 1905. William James created a new construction of five expressions with the prefix “trans”: “trans–personal”, “trans–corporeal”, “trans–cerebral”, “trans–visible”, and “trans–mental”. He thought of these new constructions when writing about phenomenalism and idealism. This “creation” of new concepts turned out of his creative, systematic and innovate thinking.

The origin of the concept TRANSPERSONAL

The concept “transpersonal”, was first used in 1967, by Abraham Maslow, in a communication to Sutich (Sutich, 1969). In Maslow’s perspective, the word “transpersonal” fitted well in what he was trying to say, explaining perfectly the idea he wanted to transmit, the idea of “beyond the individuality”. Sutich, read the word and liked the word itself as well as its context, agreeing that the word “transpersonal” expressed perfectly the idea he was trying to achieve; the idea of “the experiencing individual” (Sutich, 1969).

Indeed, Maslow and Sutich, have both contributed to the birth of transpersonal psychology. Though, Maslow, made his point stating that psychology should consider “the farther reaches of human nature” (Maslow, 1971).

However, Dane Rudhyar (1983), writer and philosopher, had a different perspective. He defended that he had been the first using the term “transpersonal” and he had used it since 1930, but with the meaning of “to represent action which takes place through a person, but which originates in a centre for activity existing beyond the level of personhood”.

Nevertheless, Rudhyan admitted that CarlGustavJung might already have used the term before him, when wrote the word “ueberpersonlich” in 1917 which was later translated officially as “transpersonal” (Vich,1988).

Transpersonal Psychology as the ‘fourth force’

Nowadays, Transpersonal psychology is considered the “fourth force” in the field of psychology, considering the “first force” the positivist or behaviourist theory, the “second force” the classical psychoanalysis theory and the “third force” the humanistic psychology.

Accordingly to the transpersonal perspective, the others schools of psychology have failed when they did not give weight to the transpersonal element of human existence, namely to consciousness, peak experiences, ecstasy, awe, being, cosmic awareness, and others, which are the concern of transpersonal psychology.

However, transpersonal psychology strives to join insights from modern psychology and from the world’s contemplative tradition, East and West. The transpersonal and spiritual dimensions of the psyche have traditionally not been a focus of interest for western psychology, which has mainly focused on the pre-personal and personal aspects of the human psyche.

With the aim of reach a definition of transpersonal psychology that would provide a good understanding of the field and help to produce a precise definition of the term, Lajoie & Shapiro (1992) have revised forty definitions of transpersonal psychology for the most prominent authors in the field, that had appeared in literature over the period between 1969 and 1991. Lajoie & Shapiro, trying to find points in common between those definitions, have summarised the themes that appeared more frequently, and have listed them in five key themes. The themes that appeared more were: States of consciousness; Highest or ultimate potential; Beyond ego or personal self; Transcendence and Spiritual.

Based on their own research they have defined transpersonal psychology as a field “concerned with the study of humanity’s highest potential, and with the recognition, understanding, and realisation of unitive, spiritual, and transcendent states of consciousness” (Lajoie & Shapiro, 1992).


Lajoie & Shapiro (1992). Definitions of transpersonal psychology: the first twenty-three years. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 24 (1), 79-98.

Rudhyar, D. (1983) Rhythm of wholeness. Wheaton, IL: The philosophical Publishing.

Sutich, A.J. (1969). Some considerations regarding transpersonal psychology. 1(1), 11-20.

Vich, A.M. (1988) Some historical sources of the term tranpersonal. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 2 (2)
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