Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Blood in the water: Tracking the wild grownup in America's lust for the tarnished hero. Depth psychology in dialogue with the journalism of popular culture
by Signet, Luticia Stoker, Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2014, 330; 3619100
Abstract (Summary)

Beneath the familiar noise of a 21st Century American popular culture enthralled with the new, the bright-and-shiny, the golden hero versus dark villain, a back-beat refrain can be heard: Where have all the grownups gone?

This dissertation searches for those adults in modern American life who have endured cycles of heroic ascent and fall, crisis and reckoning with their own unknown-wild in a process known in depth psychology as archetypal initiation. Beyond the consulting room of depth psychotherapy, the stories of public figures in the news present rich opportunity to examine the initiatory crises of adulthood within a pervasive cultural context. Hence this study focuses its inquiry as a dialogue between the culture's biographical journalism—"people stories" in the news—and the thinkers of depth psychology. It seeks to give voice to an emerging contemporary grownup by metaphorically placing-the-culture-on-the-couch of depth psychology.

Review of the literature establishes the work in the overlap of three key areas of study: The mythological hero's journey, adulthood as explored in depth psychology and prevailing cultural literature, and the journalism of depth psychology juxtaposed with the journalism of popular culture. The study employs a cultural-historical hermeneutic method using a systematic grid or matrix of interpretive inquiry to "interview" biographical and journalistic texts about 10 public figures from American business, sports, politics, military, and arts/entertainment: Steve Jobs, Joe Paterno, Marion Jones, Tiger Woods, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Mark Sanford, Paula Broadwell, David Petraeus, and Oprah Winfrey.

Findings are presented as character-sketch essays aligned tightly to the interpretive matrix. The essays establish first a biographical-journalistic narrative then develop the depth-psychology dimensions of shadow confrontation, initiatory crisis, inter-subjectivity, and archetypal motifs. As with myth, this journo-psychological matrix can serve as both contextual lens and predictive model. This study's ultimate purpose is to discover a new myth of the emerging grownup and propose a template in service to adults striving to mature through cycles of initiatory crisis and their archetypal journeys of individuation—in and beyond both news of the day and consulting room.

Key Words: adult, archetype, biography, depth psychology, grownup, initiation, journalism.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Nelson, Elizabeth
Commitee: Barnett, Barbara Ann, Callan, George
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
Department: Depth Psychotherapy
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 75/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Biographies, Journalism, Developmental psychology, Personality psychology
Keywords: Adulthood, Archetype, Biographies, Initiation, Journalism, Psychotherapy
Publication Number: 3619100
ISBN: 9781303877995
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