Identity and Self-Actualization

“The greatest crime in the world is not developing your potential. When you do what you do best, you are helping not only yourself, but the world.” –Roger Williams

Humanistic Psychology is a branch of Psychology that focuses on human potential and the healthy, whole person. American Psychologist Abraham Maslow formulated his Hierarchy of Needs diagram to explain the various levels of needs we all have, culminating in Self-Actualization—the full realization of one’s potential (or Transcendence, a future level added later).

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs Pyramid

Characteristics of Self-Actualized People

  • Accepting and Realistic—Respectful of others, objective, nondiscriminative, compassionate, embracing and enjoying all cultures
  • Problem Solving—Concerned with helping others and solving problems in the world, responsible, ethical
  • Spontaneous—Open, creative, original, unconventional, true to self, sense of humor
  • Independent—Comfortable being alone, nonconformist, form own opinions and views, a few close friends rather than many surface relationships
  • Appreciative—View world with wonder and awe, curious, interested in everything
  • Have Peak Experiences—Experience moments of intense joy, awe, and ecstasy, which inspire and transform them

Intro to Psychosynthesis: Integrating Our Subpersonalities

Psychosynthesis EggPsychosynthesis is a branch of Psychology that works with our various subpersonalities/roles in life with the aim of integrating them all into a whole. It starts from the premise that we are all healthy (as opposed to other therapies that aim to fix what is wrong).



Psychosynthesis Egg DiagramIt has been called “Psychology with a Soul”, as it integrates a spiritual dimension into the understanding of the Self for both personal and spiritual development. Psychosynthesis recognizes various levels of consciousness and two stages of development that often overlap: Personal and Transpersonal (Spiritual). A major emphasis is placed on the spiritual part of our identity—our Higher Self, or our personal experience of Spirit.

Psychosynthesis was developed by Italian psychiatrist Roberto Assagioli in 1910 to merge the grounding, reflective process of psychology with the deeper, soul aspect of spiritualism. It is the forerunner of Humanistic Psychology and Transpersonal Psychology.

Some of the goals of Psychosynthesis are the following:

  • Create self-awareness and discover our spiritual nature and potential.
  • Enhance the full range of human experience and support our movement toward self-realization.
  • Make the subpersonalities/roles creative and helpful in our life.
  • Integrate personality through self-realization, self-actualization, and spiritual (transpersonal) development.

Working with our subpersonalities is a five-stage process:

  1. Recognition
  2. Acceptance
  3. Coordination
  4. Integration
  5. Synthesis

Psychosynthesis Star DiagramAccording to Psychosynthesis, we create our own problems. We must have awareness and will to change/get unstuck. Will, imagination, and intuition are all necessary. Wants are an external manifestation of subpersonalities that mask needs.

Subpersonalities want to transform/evolve themselves and integrate to become whole. Once all our subpersonalities are integrated, we are able to experience a new level of growth on our journey of evolution.