Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A holy challenge: harnessing practical imagination in places of conflict, disaster, and development
by Maxwell, Finbar John, Ph.D., Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, 2012, 430; 3557613
Abstract (Summary)

The first question this study examined was the ways in which imagination is experienced in the lives of people who voluntarily work in places of conflict, disaster, and development. Imagination is a dynamic, creative, and empathetic force among individuals who, while immersed in present life realities are also open to new possibilities. A secondary question examined the experience of stress in the lives of people who voluntarily work in places of conflict, disaster, and development. Linking both of these questions was an exploration of the ways the expressive arts give expression to the imaginative process, and also reduce stress. Fourteen participants (10 men and 4 women) from diverse nationalities and cultural backgrounds, who are members of the Catholic spiritual organizations, the Society of St. Columban, the Sisters of St. Columban, and Columban Lay Mission, who work in places that met the criteria for this study, were interviewed using a semi–structured protocol on their experience of imagination and stress within the settings in which they work. The 14 participants also brought original artwork to the study. This artwork was reflected upon by 3 members of a sympathetic resonance panel, comprised of 2 women and 1 man from the San Francisco Bay Area, who were unknown to the study participants. This qualitative study utilized heuristic inquiry, with the support of qualitative thematic analysis. In accordance with the creative synthesis phase of heuristic inquiry, the researcher made 14 watercolor paintings, as an aesthetic response to the participants’ interviews and artworks. Findings of the study revealed that the participants draw upon the expressive arts to remain grounded and safe in their places of work, and bring a high level of practical, creative imagination to projects that unite diverse communities. The findings of this study could benefit organizations that train people to work in places of conflict, disaster, and development.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Palmer, Genie
Commitee: Herman, Lisa, LeBaron, Michelle
School: Institute of Transpersonal Psychology
Department: Residential Transpersonal Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 74/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Clinical psychology
Keywords: Conflict, Creativity, Disaster, Expressive arts, Imagination, Stress management
Publication Number: 3557613
ISBN: 9781303010293
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