Transpersonal Model of Human Nature and its Implications for Psychotherapy:
theme: There are numerous psychotherapies available to the individual for the treatment of non-adaptive behaviour problems supposedly originating from personality 'deficiencies'. Scientists of the various psychologies are investigating the various influences on behaviour and several models for psychotherapy have been formulated.
"A great deal of the distress which so many people experience may be traced in no small part to our living as exiles from our own homeland, the inner world of subjective experience. Through psychotherapy, we can overcome the social conditioniong which has taught us to be suspicious and guilty about living from the center out, about truly putting internal wholeness at the highest priority, and about making choices in terms of inner sensing of our own unique needs and wants. When we have gained that liberation, the whole experience of being alive can be subtly different. We know our individuality; we find richness within our flow of awareness; we deal with issues and concerns with greater integrity; and we find the possibility of creative and aesthetic participation in life." (transpersonal psychotherapist James Bugenthal cited by Walsh and Vaughan (eds) Beyond Ego: Transpersonal Dimensions in Psychology J.P. Tarcher, Inc. Los Angeles l980 on page l93)
Western psychotherapy based on behavioural science... other models for psychotherapy... transpersonal realm of human consciousness...
In the major Western traditions of psychology and psychoanalysis, mental health is equated with the absence of pathology. An individual's behaviour is considered as a reflection of his mental health and thought to be measurable in terms of self-esteem and ego strength.
The most common model of psychotherapy utilises techniques based on the Western psychological theory known as 'behavioural science'. In the diagnosis and treatment of behavioural problems, behavioural scientists and therapists focus on pathological conditions which can be identified with very clear overt behavioural patterns and characteristics.
Numerous psychotherapies are available to the individual for the treatment of non-adaptive behaviour problems supposedly originating from personality 'deficiencies.' The most common model of psychotherapy is known as 'behaviour modification'. Highly effective in the treatment of behavioural problems, it utilises techniques based on the Western psychological theory known as 'behavioural science', so named because it is based on measurement and verification of behaviour change. Techniques of the behavioural sciences have been developed from empirical methods of experimentation. In the diagnosis and treatment of behavioural problems, behavioural scientists and therapists have focused on pathological conditions identified with very clear overt behavioural patterns and characteristics.
Techniques of behavioural modification psychotherapy
Psychotherapies based on Western psychology have placed the emphasis on analytical techniques and measurability.
Scientists of various psychologies are investigating other influences on behaviour and formulating other models for psychotherapy.
There are several models for psychotherapy. These include 'cognitive behaviour modification', 'humanistic psychotherapy', 'existential psychotherapy' and 'transpersonal psychotherapy'. Cognitive behaviour modification is concerned with the role of cognition in behaviour modification. Humanistic psychotherapy is concerned with growth as well as health and pathology. It is based on a holistic psychology and has as its central aim the achievement of ego goals and development of personality. Existential psychotherapy is based on the existential philosophy which focuses on the individual's existence as a continuous struggle with the reconciliation of life and its inevitabilities. Consequently it is concerned with the individual's search for the meaning of life and the purpose of his existence, the individual's confrontation with death and aloneness, the necessity of the individuals' responsibility for his destiny and choice of opportunities, and the individual's instinctive demands for authenticity.
Implications for education...
four transpersonal dimensions
Transpersonal psychology and transpersonal psychotherapy are based on the transpersonal model of human nature which is a theoretical model based on the transpersonal dimensions of the multidimensional human personality. The word 'transpersonal' means 'through or beyond the personality.' The transpersonal realm of the human personality lies beyond the ego or existential level and the goal for the individual is to attain knowledge of his total self, to include his humanness as well as his individual personality. In order to live beyond the ego level of consciousness, the individual must detach himself from his own personal dramas. These interfere with the full functioning of the transpersonal dimensions. He must also be detached from the personal dramas of other people, a detachment which appears to detract from involvement with society and is thus easily misconceived and wrongly understood as selfishness. An understanding of the transpersonal model proves the contrary. Pursuing self-knowledge beyond the ego level of self-interest, an individual fulfills an instinctive need to live on the 'higher' levels of consciousness. At these 'higher' levels of consciousness, the individual lives by values which preserve the interconnectedness of human beings: justice, truth, beauty, freedom, generosity, love etc. The dichotomy 'selfishness vs. unselfishness' disappears. The person living at the transpersonal level is selfish in his unselfishness, and unselfish in his selfishness. Transpersonal phenomena cannot be explained by applying the techniques of the behavioural sciences. Scientists and experimenters have to be trained as participant-observers, less interfering and more sensitive to an individual's subjective experiences. The main limiting factor in their intellectual understanding of the transpersonal dimensions of the human personality is their own limited personal growth. They first have to extend their own personal growth beyond the ego level to the transpersonal level. Before they can comprehend any individual's transpersonal experiences, they must themselves have attained a transpersonal perspective. Attainment of a transpersonal perspective requires mental liberation in four dimensions: 'consciousness,' 'conditioning,' 'personality,' and 'identity.' 'Consciousness' is the central dimension that provides the basis and context for all experience. Growth can take place at any time by letting go of the thoughts and fantasies of the waking state, thereby removing distorted perceptions and bringing about the liberation of the mind. 'Conditioning' is the dimension of attachment to any objects, persons, particular self-images or behaviour patterns. Conditioned attachments which keep the mind in bondage are the source of pain and suffering. 'Personality' is the dimension related to the person's emotional baggage. Identification with personality and personal dramas hinders optimal growth. 'Identity' refers to the identification with our thoughts and beliefs.
"We are what we think...and with our thoughts we make the world."(Buddha) To attain the transpersonal perspective, the person must first become mentally liberated in the four dimensions, must let go of all thoughts and fantasies of the usual waking consciousness state to remove distortions in the perceptions of reality, must let go of conditioned attachments to persons, objects, self- images and behaviour patterns, must let go of identifications with personality, personal dramas, thoughts and beliefs. In this way the person is liberated from interests, desires and anxieties of the 'ego' realm of the conscious, obstacles to growth are removed and a perspective from the transpersonal realm becomes possible. The person attains a 'higher' state of consciousness, characterised by an awareness of his connectedness with the rest of humanity and expressed towards others as love and compassion. The transpersonal model of human nature provides an effective alternative technique of psychotherapy. In the treatment of non-adaptive behaviour, the transpersonal psychotherapist capitalizes on the self-healing capacities of the individual's own consciousness. Instead of focusing on the ego conflicts which cause the behaviour problems, the transpersonal psychotherapist focuses on the person as a whole. He utilises the techniques of the consciousness diciplines which are based on the holistic psychologies of Eastern cultures. The individual learns to extend his identity beyond the existential ego level to the transpersonal level of awareness. The transpersonal psychotherapist cooperates with the individual in his efforts to attain awareness on the transpersonal level of consciousness, transcending his own ego conflicts. On the transpersonal level, the ego is viewed in the same way as the 'superego' of traditional psychoanalysis. As the individual can but does not have to identify with his 'superego', so he can but does not have to identify with his ego. This shift in the identification with the ego reduces its power, resulting in the individual's detachment from its demands. Liberated from his identification with his ego, the 'awakened' individual transcends the ego level of consciousness and enters the transpersonal dimensions of his personality, discovering his own true nature, his humanness, his connectedness with his fellow beings and with nature.