Transpersonal Psychology is the study of consciousness, spiritual and peak experiences, optimal mental health, and other related phenomenon. It is often referred to as the Fourth Force in Psychology.
Briefly, Freud and Adler, interested in the internal processes of the psyche and the early relational experiences of the person, represented the First Force. The Behaviorists represented the Second Force, those who thought the field of psychology should be focused on the behavior of the person and the environmental influences that determine behavior. The Third Force, or Humanistic Psychology, was championed by Abraham Maslow, who described an intrinsic drive within the person to actualize oneself, to manifest one’s full potential. In the late 1960s, Maslow then named Transpersonal Psychology as a legitimate inquiry into transcendent experience that is centered in the cosmos rather than in the individual personality.
Transpersonal Psychology shares certain questions and concerns with various religions but is not religious. Transpersonal Psychologists are interested in the direct experiences of a higher being, those born from a spiritual reality. Stan Grof and his work with holotropic breathwork and spiritual emergencies, Frances Vaughn and the application of meditation to enhance spiritual experiences, and Ken Wilber’s work with the Spectrum Model of development are a few examples of the myriad theorists and practitioners in this growing field. The fields of Quantum Physics and Ecopsychology also share many of the same questions and approaches that seek to understand the human experience as spiritual experience. Most recently, the films, What The Bleep Do We Know?, The Living Matrix, and The People v. The State of Illusion present some of the explorations from these fields, each in an educational format for the general public. See the Strategies for Transitions page for links to these films.