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Volume 2 Chapter 6

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Symbols of Transpersonal Psychology – A Return to the Axial Age and Beyond

The Fourth Force in Psychology

The Transpersonal Renaissance and the Axial Age
It is important to note that transpersonal psychology does not typically warrant its own chapter in history and systems texts in psychology. However, as the world enters the twenty-first century, Western science has been unable to solve many of the pressing problems of humankind like climate change, political polarization, failures of organized religion and social institutions, the rise of authoritarianism, and decline of democracy. In a world seeking new ways for humanity to exist in harmony and peace, it seems timely, even essential, that psychology reassess its adherence to the limitations of Western science.

Transpersonal psychology addresses three major themes: a psychology beyond ego functioning, a holistic and integrative psychology, and a psychology whose goal is to transform individuals and society. Because psychological research and practice has shown the efficacy of meditation practices, psychedelic treatments, and transpersonal practices, a transpersonal renaissance is occurring in psychology.

Although transpersonal psychology does not fit neatly into the ethnocentric Western science paradigm or within the current STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) bias in psychology, transpersonal psychology is emerging as another vital alternative to psychoanalysis, behaviorism, and humanistic-existential psychology.

As Yalom described humanistic psychology as an orphan in mainstream psychology, transpersonal psychology appears to be in utero, yet to be fully born. Although acknowledged as the Fourth Force in psychology, the power structure of the APA denied petitions by psychologists in 1984 and 1985 to create a division of transpersonal psychology under the guise that the topics were outside the realm of science. In 1986, the Transpersonal Psychology Interest Group (TPIG) was formed and continues to promote transpersonal issues in collaboration with Division 32 of the APA.

As the text concludes please reflect on your experience. Here is my reflection, a poem offered to you the explorer of psychology and symbols:

The Great History of Psychology
I always wanted to be an astronaut
Flying above the noise and chaos
Circling the earth again and again
In the quiet spaceless void
No longer attached to the earth
Finding the space to examine my beliefs
I hadn’t been told the whole story
Isn’t history a fabulous view from afar
That has changed my life. Can’t wait to take another flight.

Jim Broderick (2022)

Chapter Symbols

A woman with a space suit on her face.

Fig 6.1 – Inner Space

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A group of people hugging each other.

Fig 6.2-Tune in, Turn on, Drop Out

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A group of statues in different colors.

Fig 6.3 – Hare Krishna

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A group of mushrooms with wings.

Fig 6.4 – Default Mode Network

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A colorful artwork of a bird.

Fig 6.5 – Transcendent Function

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A planet earth in a fire.

Fig 6.6 – Western Ethnocentrism

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A pyramid with a person on top.

Fig 6.7-Spiritual Self Actualization

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A colorful background with a human head and brain.

Fig 6.8 – Integral Yoga Psychology

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A man stretching on a rock.

Fig 6.9 – Psychosynthesis

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A colorful art with a white eye.

Fig 6.10 – Transcendental Art

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A man and woman sitting in chairs.

Fig 6.11 – Astrological Psychology

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A group of people sitting in a lotus position with multiple arms.

Fig 6.12 – Kundalini Yoga

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A woman sitting on a wood floor with a man standing behind her.

Fig 6.13-Transcendental Meditation

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A man sitting in a lotus position with a buddha in the middle.

Fig 6.14 – Buddhist Mindfulness

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A face and face with colorful rays.

Fig 6.15-Unified Psychedelic Theory

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A colorful image of a person's face with a bright light coming out of it.

Fig 6.16 -LSD

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A group of aliens with a glowing light coming out of them.

Fig 6.17 – DMT Elves

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A screenshot of a cell phone.

Fig 6.18 – COEX Treatment

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A colorful painting of a hindu god.

Fig 6.19 – Lord of Ghang

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A woman sleeping in a bed with a yin yang symbol.

Fig 6.20-Psychedelic Assisted Psychotherapy

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A painting of two women with a ship in the background.

Fig 6.21 – Psychonaut

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