Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

Living Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming


  • Duygu DincerEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27771-9_200186-1

A Brief History

Sophia-Analysis is the name given to the therapeutic method developed by Antonio Mercurio, who was an Italian existential personalistic anthropologist, in 1970s. Mercurio inspired from the Renaissance thought and developed sophianalytical method based upon four fundamental forces of humanity: religion, art, science, and philosophy (Mercurio 2011a). In the beginning, this method was only practiced in Italy, but then, it gained wide currency and a few institutions were founded to organize various training activities and programs on Sophia-Analysis. The first institution founded for this purpose was Sophia University of Rome (S.U.R.) (1978) in Italy. It was followed by the others, including the Sophia University of Rome in Geneva (1979), Brussels (1981), Paris (1984) et cetera. The findings obtained by Zerbetto and Tantam (2001) have shown that Sophia-Analysis is still one of the most common psychotherapy modalities being practiced in thirty-one European countries (6.3%). However, it is also practiced in southern America.

Etymology and Definitions

The term of Sophia-Analysis comprises of two words: “sophia” and “analysis.” Etymologically, both of them come from Greek. “Sophia” means “wisdom” while “analysis” (derived from Greek “analusis”) means “detailed examination of the elements or structure of something” (Oxford Online Dictionary 2018). In parallel with its etymology, Mercurio defines Sophia-Analysis as “a school of life based on wisdom” (Mercurio 2011a, p. 14), “a path of knowledge and of wisdom, which leads to the transformation of oneself” (Mercurio 2009, p. 19). When considered from this point of view, individuals are the searchers for wisdom to know and create themselves. For this reason, this kind of wisdom differs from all other wisdoms. For example, in ancient Greek times, only philosophers were searching for the truth and wisdom. But in Sophia-Analysis, the wisdom is inside all of us and we need to find it to actualize ourselves. Or in Judeo-Christian tradition, wisdom is related to searching for perfection because humans want to be perfect just like God. Only God has pure perfection, beauty, love, power, and intelligence (Mercurio 2011a, b). But Sophia-Analysis sees this kind of expectation as “a pathological form of demand for perfection” that paralyzes the authentic existence (Mercurio 2011a, p. 40).

Besides that, Mercurio describes Sophia-Analysis as “an individual and group work” (Mercurio 2011a, p. 15), “an experimental laboratory” (Mercurio 2011a, p. 14), and “an existential and choral project” (Mercurio 2011a, p. 15) that aims to help people to “become Persons and artists of their lives” (Mercurio 2011a, p. 12). [On the other hand, in recent years, it is also practiced in the context of couple therapy approach (especially in Belgium; Ginger 2002)]. These definitions generally emphasize on the value of group experiences on the course to find wisdom and recreate oneself.

Theories Behind Sophia-Analysis

Mercurio has inspired from various psychological, anthropological, philosophical, intellectual, and artistic approaches while developing the Sophia-Analysis. So, it has a multidisciplinary framework. First of all, Sophia-Analysis is based on a new anthropological theory, Existential Personalistic Anthropology, developed by Mercurio himself and focuses on the evolutional and historical background of humanity. Secondly, astrophysics is one of the inspiration sources of Sophia-Analysis. Mercurio makes an analogy between the principles of astrophysics and the laws of human development to reveal the story of becoming a Person. Based on this analogy, he examines how stars are born, how they develop gradually, how they die, and how they are reborn and then he examines the same process in terms of sophianalytical group work (Mercurio 2011a). Thirdly, psychoanalysis contributes to Sophia-Analysis in terms of concentrating oedipal and pre-oedipal stages in group work (Mercurio 2010, 2011a). Fourthly, Sophia-Analysis emphasizes “the ability of loving themselves, loving others and receiving love of people” (Mercurio 2011a, p. 15). This is the point that Sophia-Analysis and The Theory of Art of Loving intersects. Additionally, Sophia-Analysis focuses on the religious issues such as the problem of evil and good by discussing feelings of guilt and love (Mercurio 2010).

See Also


  1. Ginger, S. (2002). Psychotherapy in France. In A. Pritz (Ed.), Globalized psychotherapy. Facultas Verlags und Bunchandels: Vienna.Google Scholar
  2. Mercurio, A. (2009). Hypotheses on Ulysses: A new look at Homer’s Odyssey (trans: Bache-Wiig, M.). Rome: Solaris Institute of Sophia University of Rome.Google Scholar
  3. Mercurio, A. (2010). Love, freedom and guilt and the theory of the existential unconscious (trans: Bache-Wiig, M.). Rome: Solaris Institute of Sophia University of Rome.Google Scholar
  4. Mercurio, A. (2011a). Sophia-analysis and the joy principle (trans: Bache-Wiig, M.). Rome: Solaris Institute of Sophia University of Rome.Google Scholar
  5. Mercurio, A. (2011b). Eleven rules, seven theorems and seven axioms of cosmo-art (trans: Bache-Wiig, M.). Rome: Solaris Institute of Sophia University of Rome.Google Scholar
  6. Zerbetto, R., & Tantam, D. (2001). The Survey of European psychotherapy training 3: What psychotherapy is available in Europe? European Journal of Psychotherapy, Counseling & Health, 4(3), 397–405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Education, Department of Counseling PsychologyIbn Haldun UniversityIstanbulTurkey