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Integral psychology


Integral psychology is psychology that presents an all-encompassing holistic rather than an exclusivist or reductive approach. It includes both lower, ordinary, and spiritual or transcendent states of consciousness. Important writers in the field of Integral Psychology are Sri Aurobindo, Indra Sen, Haridas Chaudhuri, and Ken Wilber. While Sen closely follows Sri Aurobindo, Chaudhuri and Wilber each present very different theories.

Sri Aurobindo and Integral Yoga Psychology

Integral psychology began in the 1940s, when Indra Sen, a devotee of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, established the field of Integral Psychology, based on a comparison of Sri Aurobindo's Integral Yogic psychology and the psychology of Freud and Jung[1], although his book of the same name only appeared in 1986 [2].

Independently of Sen, N. V. Subbannachar who looked at Social Psychology and Integral evolution from the perspective of Sri Aurobindo's psychology [3]

Since then a number of other books on or comparing Sri Aurobindo's integral psychology have appeared.[4][5], as well as a comprehensive compilation of Sri Aurobindo's analysis of levels of mind[6].

Sri Aurobindo's yoga psychology has also been presented in a scientific and evolutionary context by Don Salmon and Jan Maslow[7].

Haridas Chaudhuri

An original interpretation of Integral psychology was proposed in the 1970s by Haridas Chaudhuri, who postulated a triadic principle of uniqueness, relatedness and transcendence, corresponding to the personal, interpersonal and transpersonal domains of human existence.[8] [9]

Ken Wilber

Like Sen, Ken Wilber wrote a book entitled Integral Psychology, in which he applies his integral model of consciousness to the psychological realm. This was the first book in which he embraced the Spiral Dynamics model of human development. In Integral Psychology, Wilber identifies an "integral stage of consciousness" which exhibits "...cognition of unity, holism, dynamic dialecticism, or universal integralism..."[10]

While Wilber's debt to Sri Aurobindo (despite their very different approaches) is evident in the foreward to a book on Aurobindonian Integral psychology,[11] Wilber began working on the manuscript of a textbook for integral psychology in 1992, tentatively titled System, Self, and Structure, but was diverted because he felt the need to provide more detail on his integral philosophy in Sex, Ecology, Spirituality (1995). The textbook was finally published in 1999 as part of the Collected Works[12], and then separately in 2000 [13]

For Wilber, Integral psychology is psychology that is inclusive or holistic rather than exclusivist or reductive. Multiple explanations of phenomena, rather than competing with each other for supremacy, are to be valued and integrated into a coherent overall view.[14][15]

Other interpretations

Bahman Shirazi of the California Institute of Integral Studies has defined Integral Psychology as "a psychological system concerned with exploring and understanding the totality of the human phenomenon....(which) at its breadth, covers the entire body-mind-psyche-spirit spectrum, while at its depth...encompasses the previously explored unconscious and the conscious dimensions of the psyche, as well as the supra-conscious dimension traditionally excluded from psychological inquiry". [16]

Brant Cortright, also of the CIIS, explains Integral Psychology as born through the synthesis of Sri Aurobindo's teachings with the findings of depth psychology. He presents Integral Psychology as a synthesis of the two major streams of depth psychology – the humanistic-existential and contemporary psychoanalytic – within an integrating east-west framework [17].


[1] Patel, Aster, "The Presence of Dr Indra Senji", SABDA - Recent Publications, November 2003, pp. 9-12 PDF
[2] Indra Sen Integral Psychology: The Psychological System of Sri Aurobindo, Pondicherry, India: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, 1986
[3] N. V. Subbannachar, Social Psychology: The Integral Approach, Scientific Book Agency, 1966. This work was originally a doctoral thesis approved by the University of Mysore in 1959)
[4] V. Madhusudan Reddy, Integral Yoga Psychology: The Psychic Way to Human Growth and Human Potential, Institute of Human Study, Hyderabad 1990
[5] Joseph Vrinte, The Quest for the Inner Man: Transpersonal Psychotheraphy and Integral Sadhana, 1996
[6] Jyoti and Prem Sobel, The Hierarchy of Minds, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry, 1984
[7] Don Salmon and Jan Maslow, Yoga Psychology and the Transformation of Consciousness – Seeng through the Eyes of Infinity, Paragon House, St Paul, Mn, 2007 ISBN 1-55778-835-9
[8] Chaudhuri, Haridas. (1975). "Psychology: Humanistic and transpersonal". Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 15 (1), 7-15.
[9] Chaudhuri, Haridas. (1977). The Evolution of Integral Consciousness. Wheaton, Illinois: Quest Books. 1989 paperback reprint: ISBN 0-8356-0494-2
[10] Ken Wilber, The Collected Works of Ken Wilber: Integral Psychology, Trasformations of Consciousness, Selected Essays v.4, p. 458 Shambhala, 1999
[11] Ken Wilber, Forward to A. S. Dalal (ed.), A Greater Psychology - An Introduction to the Psychological Thought of Sri Aurobindo, Tarcher/Putnam, 2000.
[12] Collected Works of Ken Wilber volume IV ISBN 1-57062-504-2
[13] Ken Wilber, Integral Psychology : Consciousness, Spirit, Psychology, Therapy Shambhala, ISBN 1-57062-554-9
[14] Wilber, K., 1997, An integral theory of consciousness; Journal of Consciousness Studies, 4 (1), pp.71-92
[15] Esbjörn-Hargens, S., & Wilber, K. (2008). "Integral Psychology" in The Corsini's Encyclopedia of Psychology. 4th Edition. New York: John Wiley and Sons.
[16] Shirazi, Bahman (2001) "Integral psychology, metaphors and processes of personal integration", Cornelissen, Matthijs (Ed.) Consciousness and Its Transformation, Pondicherry: SAICE
[17] Brant Cortright, Integral Psychology: Yoga, Growth, and Opening the Heart, SUNY, 2007 ISBN 0791470717

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page from Wikipedia, most of which written by M.Alan Kazlev
this page uploaded 16 February 2010 (copied from Wikipedia edit last modified on 2 February 2010 at 21:17).