Claudio Naranjo

Claudio Naranjo

Claudio Naranjo (November 24, 1932 in Valparaiso, Chile) is a Chilean psychiatrist who is considered a pioneer in integrating psychotherapy and the spiritual traditions. He is one of the three successors named by Fritz Perls (founder of Gestalt Therapy), and a developer of the Enneagram of Personality and founder of the Seekers After Truth Institute. He is also an elder statesman of the U.S. and global Human Potential Movement and the spiritual renaissance of the late 20th century.[1] He is the author of various books.


Background and education

Naranjo was born in Valparaiso. He grew up in a musical environment and after an early start at the piano he studied musical composition. Shortly after entrance to medical school, he stopped composing as he became more involved in philosophical interests. Important influences from this time were the Chilean visionary poet and sculptor Tótila Albert, the poet David Rosenmann-Taub, and the Polish philosopher Bogumil Jasinowski.


After being graduated as a medical doctor in 1959, he was hired by the University of Chile medical school to form part of a pioneering studies center in medical anthropology (CEAM) founded by Franz Hoffman. At the same time, he served his psychiatry residency at the University Psychiatry Clinic under the direction of Ignacio Matte Blanco.

Involved in research on the effects of the dehumanization of traditional medical education, he travelled briefly to the United States during a mission assigned by the University of Chile to explore the field of perceptual learning. It is at that time that he became acquainted with the work of Samuel Renshaw and Hoyt Sherman at the Ohio State University.

In 1962 he was at Harvard as a visiting Fulbright scholar, at the Center for Studies of Personality and Emerson Hall, where he was a participant in Gordon Allport's Social Psychology Seminar and a student of Tillich. He became Raymond Cattell's associate at the Institute of Personality and Ability Testing (IPAT) in 1963.

After a brief return to his native country, he was invited to Berkeley, California for a year and a half to participate in the activities of the Center for Personality Assessment Research (IPAR).

After another period at the University of Chile Medical School's Center of Medical Anthropology Studies and at the Instituto de Psicología Aplicada, Naranjo returned once again to Berkeley and to IPAR, where he continued his activities as Research Associate. It is during this period of time that he became an apprentice of Fritz Perls and part of the early Gestalt Therapy community, where he began conducting workshops at Esalen Institute, as a visiting associate. He eventually became one of Fritz Perls' three successors along with Jack Downing and Robert Hall.

In the years that lead up to his becoming a key figure at Esalen, Naranjo also received additional training and supervision from Jim Simkin in Los Angeles and attended sensory awareness workshops with Charlotte Selver. He became Carlos Castaneda's close friend and became part of Leo Zeff's pioneering psychedelic therapy group (1965–66). These meetings resulted in Naranjo’s contribution of the use of harmaline, MDMA, and ibogaine.

In 1969 he was sought out as a consultant for the Education Policy Research Center, created by Willis Harman at SRI. His report as to what in the domain of psychological and spiritual techniques in vogue was applicable to education later became his first book, The One Quest. During this same period, he co-authored a book with Robert Ornstein on meditation. Also, an invitation from Ravenna Helson to examine the qualitative differences between books representative of the "Matriarchal" and "Patriarchal" factors lead to his writing The Divine Child and the Hero, which would be published at a much later time.

The accidental death of his only son in 1970 marked a turning-point in his life. Naranjo set off on a six month pilgrimage under the guidance of Oscar Ichazo and a spiritual retreat in the desert near Arica, Chile, which he considers the true beginning of his spiritual experience, contemplative life and inner guidance.[2]

After leaving Arica, he began teaching a group that included his mother, Gestalt trainees and friends. This Chilean group, which began as an improvisation, took shape as a program and originated a non-profit corporation called the SAT Institute. These early years of the SAT Institute were implemented by a series of guest teachers, including Zalman Schachter, Dhiravamsa, Ch'u Fang Chu, Sri Harish Johari, and Bob Hoffman.

In 1976 Naranjo was a visiting professor at the Santa Cruz Campus of the University of California for two semesters and later intermittently at the California Institute of Asian Studies. He also began to offer workshops in Europe, refining aspects of the mosaic of approaches in the SAT program.

In 1987, he began the reborn SAT Institute in Spain for personal and professional development, with its program that includes Gestalt therapy and its supervision, applications of the Enneagram of Personality, interpersonal meditation, music as a therapeutic resource and as an extension of meditation, guided self-insight and communication processes. Since then, the SAT program has extended to Italy, Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina and more recently to France and Germany.

Since the late 1980s, Naranjo has divided each year's agenda between his activities abroad and his writing at home in Berkeley. Among his many publications, he has revised an early book on Gestalt therapy and published two new ones. He has published three books on the Enneagram if Personality, as well as The End of Patriarchy, which is his interpretation of social problems as the expression of a devaluation of the nurturance and human instinct and their solution in the harmonious development of our "three brained" potential. He has also published a book on meditation; The Way of Silence and the Talking Cure; and Songs of Enlightenment on the interpretation of the great books of the West as expressions of "the inner journey" and variations on the "tale of the hero".

Since the late 1990s he has attended many education conferences and sought to influence the transformation of the educational system in various countries. It is his conviction that “nothing is more hopeful in terms of social evolution than the collective furthering of individual wisdom, compassion and freedom”.[3] His book Changing Education to Change the World published in Spanish in 2004, was meant to stimulate the efforts of teachers among SAT graduates who are beginning to be involved in a SAT-in- Education project, that offers the staff of schools and the students in schools of education a "supplementary curriculum" of self-knowledge, relationship-repair and spiritual culture.

In 2006 the Foundation Claudio Naranjo was founded to implement his proposals regarding the transformation of traditional education into an education that does not neglect the human development that he believes our social evolution depends on.

His most recent book (2010), Healing Civilization: Bringing Personal Transformation into the Societal Realm through Education and the Integration of the Intra-Psychic Family is both a continuation of, and a turning point in, Naranjo's lifelong work. For in this book, which has a foreword by Jean Houston, Naranjo explores what he sees as the root cause of the destruction of human civilization (as evidenced in the first decade of the 21st century as war, violence, oppression of women, child abuse, environmental endangerment, etc.)—patriarchy—and brings both the problem and the solution home to an intra-psychic level. Patriarchy, he says, has taken root over millennia in the workings of our own conditioned minds.[citation needed] He also offers a remedy, which derives from the work of Tótila Albert regarding the "triune" being of our nature: the "Inner Father" (corresponding to the head), the "Inner Mother" (corresponding to the heart), and the "Inner Child" (corresponding to the instincts). As people learn to integrate these three "brains", Naranjo believes, they may bring about a functional, even divine, family within. And this, he believes, in addition to transforming education oriented to personal and collective evolution, could bring about the healing of civilization.[citation needed]


  • also published in French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish


External links

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