Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Anxiety in the process of individuation. An in-depth psychological study
by Nelson, Anthodesmi Fleur, Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2014, 305; 3615868
Abstract (Summary)

The dissertation seeks to understand, from a depth psychological perspective, the individual and collective manifestations of anxiety that clients bring to therapy. Anxiety has often been misunderstood as a negative and/or pathological agent, and not has been honored as a potential hidden gift for personal transformation.

The dissertation explores the reasons why it is possible for transformation to occur out of a self-aware engagement with anxiety at the level of the psyche, as opposed to treating anxiety as merely a physiological and behavioral symptom. It uncovers the metaphors and archetypal dimensions of anxiety and how they precipitate a shift within the individual and collective psyche.

The findings suggest that anxiety is potentially an inherent impulse from the psyche that is activated during the process of individuation—i.e., the period of time that Self is emerging in order to be integrated with the more ego-oriented self. Anxiety as a movement towards change operates as the inner-Hermes or messenger drive of the psyche, which informs consciousness through discomfort and suffering with the hidden intention to break inner limitations, and move one forward towards individuation.

Along these lines, this research suggests that it is important for professional psychotherapists and their clients to understand that anxiety is in fact an essential part of the human condition—a part that, despite its negative connotations (and experiential manifestations), can also serve tremendously positive transformational functions.

The research approach is hermeneutic, characterized by holistic and archetypal as well as alchemical associations. The dissertation develops a depth psychological theory by weaving philosophical, psychological, archetypal, and alchemical concepts in order to create the necessary associations that would support the notion that anxiety is a response to the inner impulse of the psyche for individuation, and therefore a potentially positive agent in the transformational process that the psyche undergoes during individuation.

Keywords: archetype, alchemy, anxiety, Hermes, individuation, Mercurius, psyche.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Kelliher, Richard
Commitee: Brown, Juliet, Lipinski, Barbara
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
Department: Clinical Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 75/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Clinical psychology
Keywords: Alchemy, Anxiety, Existential, Individuation, Psyche, Transformation
Publication Number: 3615868
ISBN: 978-1-303-82374-9
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