Ontopsychology has been formalized in Italy over the past 40 years by Antonio Meneghetti.
Based on the discoveries made and defined over the years within the realm of the human psyche, Ontopsychological research has not only mapped out a truly effective therapeutic path in terms of fulfilment of the individual but it has also paved the way for an alternative and supplementary model for scientific progress that can be applied to the various human endeavours, from pedagogy, to law, to business.
To understand how this was possible, it is necessary - as is usually the case whenever there is scientific innovation - to provide details of the founder’s background and achievements.
Antonio Meneghetti came from a humble family; in the aftermath of WWII he was chosen at the age of 11 to undertake ecclesiastical studies due to his precocious intelligence. Until 1971, during his cultural and intellectual development within the Catholic Church, he made significant accomplishments in philosophy and theology, as attested by a unique academic curriculum. In fact, as early as 1962 he obtained the prestigious Biblioteconomy Diploma
from the Vatican Apostolic Library. Subsequently, he received a Doctorate in Social Sciences
in 1967 and a Doctorate in Philosophy
in 1969, both from the Pontifical University Saint Thomas Aquinas. In 1970 he obtained a Doctorate in Theology
from the Pontifical Lateran University. In 1971 he became a Doctor in Philosophy
(with a minor in Psychology) at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore of Milan.
In the 1960s, as he was fulfilling his pastoral mission, Meneghetti developed an awareness of man’s existential problems (he would always credit his confessional experience for his subsequent studies) and, as an intellectual, he resolved to explore these issues, to find a concrete, rational and verifiable answer to human problems. What was his starting point?
Modern or scientific psychology started at the beginning of the XX century with Wundt’s laboratory, Freud’s discoveries, Jung, and Behaviourism, though none of the heirs of these early researchers produced any tangible results on man’s large questions - those related to the deep meaning of existence - and no specific, unifying subject of study had been identified.
This reverberated throughout the 1950s and 1960s in many areas of social life and customs: from philosophy proper (Fromm, Adorno, Marcuse) to art (Picasso, Dalì, Modigliani), to literature (Camus, Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir), to music, to fashion.
Intellectual university circles of a Marxist and socialist nature felt the need for an ideology of renewal, which would take shape in the movement of 1968 with the involvement of many young people.
In 1954, however, a collection of conferences held by Husserl in Vienna in 1935-193 was published posthumously; the reflections contained therein had an impact on, and stimulated the thinking of, Antonio Meneghetti. Husserl talked about the need to renew philosophy radically, the need to adopt epoché, i.e. to suspend our judgment about events in the real world, which would inevitably be based on and conditioned by social, family and ideological beliefs to have man connect with reality as it is, not for the way reality is experienced emotionally or rationally. Theories became secondary. All this because there was evidence that human beings are unhappy, restless. However, the crisis of sciences was not a crisis of their scientific nature; what was likely to be wrong was their path, there had been a "fall of philosophical intentionality”. Husserl was not against science; on the contrary, he saw in the nascent psychology the epistemic science that would give new meaning to the concept of scientific nature, leading it back to its authenticity.
The unconscious, which had been discovered by Husserl’s university colleague and friend, Sigmund Freud, was a fundamental starting point for psychology. However, it was necessary to go beyond Freud, Adler and Yung, whose research was exceedingly based on the concept of illness. The new approach to the study of psychology, which originated with the intention to answer the urgent questions raised by Existentialism, provided a new frame of reference for the therapist-client (the subject was no longer a patient) relationship and believed that the unconscious hid the best qualities of a human being. Man can thus find authentic fulfilment in existence. Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow and Rollo May rejected Jean Paul Sartre’s negative existentialism, which embraced instead the bitter and disconsolate principle of the absurdity of life and any attempt to question it.
The Catholic church, for its part, did not remain indifferent to this generalized crisis (which hit it pretty hard, with the crisis in the priesthood) and began a major internal reflection on the relationships to be entertained with civil society: these are the years of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, from 1962 to 1965. The Council brought with it great stimuli: the opening of the Catholic Church can prompt the best intellectual forces to go beyond old approaches and establish an open dialogue. Renowned theologians, such as Karl Rahner, are among the protagonists of these epoch-making changes.
Antonio Meneghetti was an active participant in this context. He had received an education from the Church that gave him a broader spiritual insight into the soul, compared to other researchers of the psyche, who had a merely medical and academic education. However, prof. Meneghetti felt the need to expand his already impressive knowledge with practical experience and lay studies, which he undertook at his own expense, balancing the duties related to his mission with the determination to expand his worldview. In fact, he wanted to see, to compare the various schools of thought and the different approaches to contemporary Psychology and Psychiatry and their response to the issues raised by Husserl, the Existentialists, by psychiatrists such as Karl Jaspers and Ludwig Binswanger who had crossed over into philosophical research. He was fascinated, among others, by Viktor Frankl’s therapeutic and philosophical research. He met in Vienna the founder of Logotherapy and in that city explored the aspects of the language of the unconscious and the client’s individual responsibility.
As can be read in his early philosophical publications, Antonio Meneghetti intuited that the problem was not in human nature but was somehow related to the aspect of rationality and the way this is applied. In fact, any ideological stance –whether because it is in fashion, a thought, a political view – cannot be regarded as absolute, even though it may demand to be treated as an absolute. It is a rational reflection that does not always reflect reality. In other words, it is clear that one may legitimately adopt a stance, but it is an arbitrary choice that is not always aligned with reality. Man suffers because he goes beside himself, puts on a mental habit that is strongly conditioned by the external world with its limited and limiting absolutes. However, he does not realize and, at the conscious level, he cannot pin the cause of his ailment. In particular, prof. Meneghetti benefitted intellectually from Kurt Gödel’s mathematical theories on the incompleteness of formal systems and Werner Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle in physics. Mathematics is a well-structured system of rational opinions and reality all around us cannot be measured with total precision. Thus, rationality shows its limits. Meneghetti rejects the notion of research undertaken to measure reality through models. He wants the actual, raw, empirical result.
As the Council came to an end, Antonio Meneghetti completed his studies and is a visiting professor in a structure that was reformed during the Council, the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas in Rome.
In that university he taught Psychology, Psychotherapy and Ontopsychology
between 1970 and 1973 and, in 1972, obtained a Recognition Award
from the same University for his teaching. One of his students had him notice that what he was teaching was already beyond Rogers. Meneghetti was already engaging in original thinking.
If man is capable of self-fulfilment, it must be possible to identify the cause of the pathology. On the clinical plane, he was attracted by schizophrenia, a pathology with hazy, unclear contours (and it still is, unless one studies Ontopsychology).
At the beginning of the 1970s, prof. Meneghetti decided to be totally autonomous from institutions and academies, to be able to carry on his own independent research. Once again, he plunged again into research, at his own expense.
He founded the first Centre for Ontopsychological Therapy in Rome, where he treated people with mental illnesses, including the seriously ill, who could not be treated in public facilities. He experienced successful healing. He perfected the therapeutic instrument of the Residence.
Between 1973 and 1978 he illustrated his discoveries in a number of self-financed congresses, these discoveries being the result of therapy sessions held for 10-12 hours a day.
The most important discovery – the Ontic in Itself – is the identification of the source of all psychic activity before the effects take place as well as the value and functionality criterion for the individual. As the inner, strictly-individual principle, it is not connected to the external environment, but places it in a position of relativism and pursues its own good by using it. It is the criterion that the Rogers school hoped fervently to identify but could not.
This discovery filled the voids left by Gödel and Heisenberg and responded to Husserl: "Reality proceeds by open, formal projects. Once the project and its interactions have been clarified, the result can be measured, controlled and predicted”.
In addition, taken together the three discoveries (Semantic field, Ontic in Itself and Deflection Monitor) are not meant to overthrow or eliminate science, research etc. but to give them a more solid, real and tangible foundation. To engage in authentic science – a real measure of man in the concrete of its existence – authentic researchers, scientists and scholars are needed. Antonio Meneghetti realized that what he had discovered and seen results confirm was the basis underpinned by facts upon which science could be built, the basis of indubitable data that Husserl was looking for. For this tireless research, Antonio Meneghetti received a degree honoris causa in physics
In 1978 he founded the International Ontopsychology Association (I.O.A.), an NGO that by the end of the 1990s would receive special consultative status with the economic and social Council of the United Nations. The purpose of I.O.A. is the dissemination of the ontopsychological science which, on the basis of the three discoveries, provides knowledge with its epistemic foundation. Thanks to the ontopsychological method, the study and evolution of one’s existence is now firmly in the hands of the individual. Ontopsychology does not proceed through models but produces tangible outcomes that can be measured in reality. When it is applied, the method is certain to yield results.
Antonio Meneghetti tested on himself the reality of his discoveries. In addition to engaging in psychotherapy, teaching, cultural dissemination and entrepreneurial pursuits in the fields of art, fashion and music, he is also an excellent pianist. For all these activities he has received awards and distinctions. In 1986 he was appointed as a member of the academic senate of the International Academy of Modern Art
in Rome. He was awarded three times the Culture Prize by the Presidency of the Council of Ministers of the Italian Republic (in 1980
), personally and as President of the Ontopsychology International Association. In 1994, he was elected as a member
of the International Informatization Academy. In 1997 the same Academy granted IOA Collective Membership
status. In the same year Meneghetti was appointed Vice President of the Academy and the following year he received from the Academy Grand Doctor of Philosophy
and Doctor Philosophy of Medical
degrees. In 1997 he was appointed member also of the International Academy of Culture of Brasilia
, Brazil. In 1998 the Supreme Inter-academic Evaluation Commission of the Russian Federation conferred upon him the scientific degree of Doktor Nauk
in Psychological Sciences while in 1999 he was awarded the Vernadskii Star
by the International Inter-Academic Union of the Russian Federation.
In its own cultural and practical activities, the Ontopsychological school has always paid special attention to young people who, in the generations following those of 1968, have been experiencing and living a difficult and disenchanted relationship with the surrounding environment.
Human beings are capable of reaching and maintaining historical authenticity through a lifestyle more in keeping with their own nature. They, even when they are young, can be leaders of their own existence, for themselves and in relation to others.
Ontopsychology has been tested throughout the world and has confirmed its results on persons shaped by different cultures and traditions, thus confirming the common inner nature of human beings.
Based on his successful scientific research, with tests and confirmed results, Antonio Meneghetti identified and isolated the process and phenomenology of intuition, the key information to access solutions in the various fields of application, particularly in the sectors of business and the economy.
PhD in Social Sciences - Pontifical University Saint Thomas Aquinas
PhD in Philosophy - Pontifical University Saint Thomas Aquinas
PhD in Holy Theology - Pontifical Lateran University
Degree in Philosophy - Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore of Milan
Doktor Nauk in Psychological Sciences - Inter-academic Evaluation Commission of the Russian Federation
Biblioteconomy Diploma - Vatican Apostolic Library
Teaching Certificate - Pontifical University Saint Thomas Aquinas
Teaching Recognition Award - Pontifical University Saint Thomas Aquinas
Honorific positions, International prizes and Awards
Degree honoris causa in Physics - Pro Deo University of New York
International Academy of Modern Art
Culture Award (1980, 1987, 1989)
International Academy of Informatization (Award to Antonio
Meneghetti as Member, Award to IOA as Collective Member)
Position of Vice-Presient of the Academy - Accademia Internazionale di
Grand Doctor of
Philosophy - International Academy of Informatization
of Medical - International Academy of Informatization
Position of Member - Academia Internacional de Cultura di Brasilia
Stella di Vernadskii Award - International Interacademy Union
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