For this week's study we began with the subsection of chapter 4 subtitled, "Technique for the Training and Use of Imagination." This section contained a number of exercises for strengthening the ability to image in a variety of modalities: visual, auditory, kinesthetic, gustatory, tactile, olfactory. I was impressed with the degree of importance Roberto Assagioli placed on being able to image in these ways, both in the sense of registering/recalling experiences, but also in allowing the imagination to be creative, allowing images to flow and change. Further, I found interesting his claim that part of what needs to be developed regarding the imagination is the capacity to stop or not attend to images and sensations.
Since this work was first published, of course, the use of imagery in education, therapy, sports, artistic performance and medicine has flowered. Interestingly enough, the attention paid to developing imaginative capacity does not seem to have grown along with the tremendous increase in its use. The differences among individuals for different imagery modalities are fascinating. Assagioli attributes psychological meaning to these differences, I wonder if they have actually been researched? For example, is it really the case that auditory imagery is more connected with the dimension of emotion?
After a brief subsection on the formation of a psychosynthesis treatment plan, Assagioli moves into discussion of the "Technique of Ideal Models". He points out that we all have models of ourselves that have limitations, are in conflict with each other, and do not lead to our full development. He recommends that these false models be identified and even debunked, while preparing to build a truer model of oneself. He also makes it clear that the process he is advocating involves the patient visualizing him or herself possessing the qualities they are trying to build in, and that the process includes creating successive models as the person builds up their weaker psychological functions, strengthens desirable qualities, and moves to integrate them. Assagioli discusses how the choice is made about what to strengthen and develop, stating that "In the planning both therapist and patient agree which part of the program to take up first, and this includes the choice of the functions or qualities to be developed through this technique of model building and acting." He also discusses the situation in which a block or resistance is experienced in trying to build up a quality, and the concomitant need to move back and forth between working with the negative aspects, while building up the positive aspects. For example, alternations may be needed between being compassionate towards one's anger or hostility even while aiming for peace and understanding with other people.
The subsection on "Technique of Symbol Utilization" presented much material on the use of symbols, kinds of symbols, and the procedures for using symbols. What I found most fascinating in this subsection was Assagioli's statements about the "functions" of symbols. "Their primitive and basic dynamic function is that of being accumulators, in the electrical sense, as containers and preservers of a dynamic psychological charge or voltage. Their second function, a most important one, is that of transformers of psychological energies. A third function is that of conductors or channels of psychological energies. ... Symbols as accumulators, transformers and conductors of psychological energies, and symbols as integrators, have most important and useful therapeutic and educational functions. And this can be considered also in reference to psychodynamics because integration is really a function of energy, specifically the function of what has been called syntropy as contrasted with entropy. Syntropy means a heightening of the tension of the voltage of psychological and also biological energy." I am intrigued to explore these notions of psychological energies and their accumulation, containment, transformation, and channels.