Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The process of individuation as embodied in symbols, images, and alchemical motifs: A psychological study based on twelve paintings by Remedios Varo
by Navolio, Lauralie Marie, Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2004, 220; 3618579
Abstract (Summary)

This study proposes that the paintings of the Surrealist artist, Remedios Varo, reveal the process of individuation over the course of time. Since the Surrealistic approach to art was founded on the principle of representing the unconscious in artistic form, a basic assumption of this study is that transformational symbols of the individuation process should be revealed in the body of work compiled by a Surrealist artist. This dissertation will demonstrate that Varo's paintings, like dreams, follow a pattern comprised of classical symbols, images, and alchemical motifs that are universal and consistent, that are arise repeatedly in her work, and that are reflective of her individuation process. The goal is achieved through an exploration of twelve of Varo's paintings done in the last decade of her life, 1953 to 1963. This is a theoretical dissertation, utilizing both hermeneutic and heuristic approaches. The study views Varo's paintings as "texts," with interpretation through three "lenses"—the cultural-historical, the personal-historical, and the Depth-archetypal, as well as interpretation by direct, personal encounter with her works of art.

The cultural-historical perspective emphasizes the Surrealistic movement, the movement's attitude toward the feminine, and Varo's work within this context. Varo's personal life experiences, which shaped her view of the world and choice of subject matter, form the basis for the personal-historical lens. The Depth-archetypal perspective draws its focus from the central issues in Depth psychology, including the individuation process and active imagination. Additionally, the paintings will be examined for their collective content, particularly as it can be understood to reveal unconscious themes.

This study suggests that an intense examination of Varo's paintings can serve as a microcosm of the individuation process and provide a guide for the therapeutic enhancement of that process in the therapy room by its replicative capacity. This study also suggests that the images in this study can be utilized as "snapshots" of moments of transformation and psychic forms of expression to guide patients as they embark on their respective journeys of individuation.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hocoy, Dan
Commitee: Dobbs, John, George, Dawn
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
Department: Clinical Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 75/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Fine arts, Counseling Psychology, Personality psychology
Keywords: Dreams, Individuation, Jungian psychology, Process of individuation, Surrealism, Varo, remedios
Publication Number: 3618579
ISBN: 978-1-303-86974-7
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