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Integral Theory
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Integral theorists:
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According to the integral philosophies of Ken Wilber and others, integral psychology would be a 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.

Development of the idea

In the 1940s Indra Sen, a devotee of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, established the field of Integral Psychology, based on Sri Aurobindo's teachings, although his book of the same name only appeared in 1986.

A further interpretation of Integral psychology was developed, although not in detail, 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.

In Spiral Dynamics, Don Beck and Chris Cowan use the term integral for a developmental stage which sequentially follows the pluralistic stage. The essential characteristic of this stage is that it continues the inclusive nature of the pluralistic mentality, yet extends this inclusiveness to those outside of the pluralistic mentality. In doing so, it accepts the ideas of development and hierarchy, which the pluralistic mentality finds difficult. Other ideas of Beck and Cowan include the "first tier" and "second tier", which refer to major periods of human development.

Integral Psychology is also a book by philosopher Ken Wilber 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..."

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 volume IV of the Collected Works of Ken Wilber (ISBN 1-57062-504-2), and then separately in 2000 as Integral Psychology : Consciousness, Spirit, Psychology, Therapy (ISBN 1-57062-554-9)

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". (Shirazi 2001) In a paper on the subject he reviews the three previous writers, as well as developing the ideas of Haridas Chaudhuri.

According to Brant Cortright, also of the CIIS, Integral Psychology is 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.

See also


  • Chaudhuri, Haridas. (1975). "Psychology: Humanistic and transpersonal". Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 15 (1), 7-15.
  • Chaudhuri, Haridas. (1977). The Evolution of Integral Consciousness. Wheaton, Illinois: Quest Books. 1989 paperback reprint: ISBN 0-8356-0494-2
  • Sen, Indra (1986) Integral Psychology: The Psychological System of Sri Aurobindo, Pondicherry, India: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust
  • Shirazi, Bahman (2001) "Integral psychology, metaphors and processes of personal integration", Cornelissen, Matthijs (Ed.) Consciousness and Its Transformation, Pondicherry: SAICE online
  • Wilber, Ken (2000) Integral Psychology Shambhala, ISBN 1-57062-554-9

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