Astropsychology is the result of the cross –fertilization of the fields of astrology with depth psychology, humanistic psychology and trans personal psychology. The horoscope is analyzed through the archetypes within astrology to gain psychological insight in to an individual’s psyche. Astrologer and psychotherapist Glenn Perry characterizes psychological astrology as “both personality theory and a diagnostic tool”.
In many ways, astrology was the first psychology in that it constituted an early means for understanding the nature of the human being. Rooted in the premise that cosmos mirrors psyche’ the ancients systematically observed how the nature and cycles of the planets corresponded to the nature and experiences of human beings.
Ancient and medieval astrologers were preoccupied with so called “good” and “bad” planetary positions-Malefic planets, evil aspects, debilitation's, falls, afflictions, and other such ominous categories of meaning. While they were obviously aware that people were subject to a process of aging that culminated in death, there was little or no concept of evolution, that is, of the psycho-spiritual growth of the individual. Accordingly, astrology was largely limited to superficial trait descriptions, fated events, and dubious predictions of good and bad times for various enterprises.
By the latter half of the 20th century, astrologers began incorporating psychological concepts in to their thinking. Practitioners realized that they could benefit from the best of both worlds. Following the lead of Dan Rudhyar, the field of humanistic astrology was born, which triggered a resurrection of astrology in the late 60’s and 70’s. By the end of the 20th century, innovators were exploring how Jungian, psychoanalytic, cognitive – behavioral, and various other models might fruitfully be integrated in to a new hybrid –Astropsychology. This project is ongoing.
While traditional astrology described how human behavior correlated to planetary positions, these descriptions were limited to the surface features of the personality. In contrast, psychological astrology addresses the interior of the psyche, and does so in terms that are significantly more detailed than its predecessors. For instance, it depicts how astrological configurations symbolize basic functions, cognitive structures, internal dialogs, intrapsychic conflict, unconscious complexes, defense mechanisms, and personality disorders-concepts that did not even exist prior to the 20th century.
Essentially, psychological astrology is a reformulation of astrology in terms of psychological concepts and practices. Perhaps the defining attribute of psychological approach is its focus on integrating the birth chart and, thus, supporting the human potential for growth and change. Outside of this one primary focus there is no single, uniform approach, although almost by definition psychological astrology is trans-personally oriented.
In sum, psychological astrology is both a personality theory and diagnostic tool. As a personality theory, it reveals how the structure and dynamics of the psyche are mirrored in external conditions that provide a stimulus to psycho-spiritual growth. And as a diagnostic tool, it provides unparalleled insight in to the underlying, characterological issues that cause distress and impairment. Perhaps the horoscope is best understood as an unfolding story in which fate is altered by the development and unfoldment of character.
Psychological astrology has been criticized for conformation bias and astrology is widely considered a pseudoscience by the scientific community. In psychology and cognitive science, conformation bias is a tendency to search for or interpret new information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions and avoids information and interpretations that contradict prior beliefs.