Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Crossing between the father's house and the mother's house: The journey of a long-term leaderless women's group
by Thronson, Penelope Ann, Ph.D., California Institute of Integral Studies, 2013, 272; 3560756
Abstract (Summary)

This case study explores the dynamics of a small long-term leaderless group of five, Jungian-oriented, women therapists. The group, meeting from 1992 to 2005, was originally convened to explore how women's initiatory journey is distinctive from men's. Refusing to adopt a leader, its non-hierarchical structure merited further exploration. The research questions were as follows: What are the individual and collective meanings given to a successful, long-term leaderless women's group? What aspects of the group contribute to its meaningfulness, vitality and longevity?

The dissertation adopts the metaphor and meta-framework of the Father's House and Mother's House, referring to two distinct ways women's consciousness develops. The Father's and Mother's House form a continuum that ranges from women's adaptation to conventional values and structures to women's ways of knowing and being. Extensive literature reviews describe consciousness in The Father's House, The Mother's House and Women in Groups.

Case study data illuminate both individual and group perspectives on the group's life. They include audio-taped individual interviews and group sessions, including typical and crisis sessions, along with researcher observations and reflections. The researcher conducted the study as a participant member.

Narrative analysis reveals three phases in the group's life: an initial phase exploring the dreams and visions of Christiana Morgan and Jung's Visions Seminars; a second phase of moving into a void with an unfolding emergent process; and a third phase following 9/11 in which the group attended to psychological trends manifesting in collective consciousness.

The Weaving chapter relates the group's experiences to the literature on women's groups, noting a key challenge faced by the group and by women generally—the dynamic of connection, disconnection, and re-connection.

The final chapter presents major conclusions drawn from the research: Women's groups serve a developmental function for women and can impact the collective in transformative ways. The Visions group found that the prevalent archetypal drama of saviour, victim, and persecutor must give way to new ways of relating. This study adds to our understanding of groups that learn organically and shows how a group functions when it lives in the Mother's House.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Kasl, Elizabeth
Commitee: Johnson, Kimmy K., Rutter, Virginia B., Stromsted, Tina
School: California Institute of Integral Studies
Department: Integral Studies with a Concentration in Learning and Change in Human Systems
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 74/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Epistemology, Womens studies, Gender studies
Keywords: Consciousness, Epistemology, Leaderless groups, Non-therapeutic, Women
Publication Number: 3560756
ISBN: 9781303072284
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