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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Epiphanies of soul: "When the bolts of the universe fly open." A depth psychological contemplation of wonder
by Beaven, Lindsey, Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2014, 220; 3645455
Abstract (Summary)

Over the centuries, the meaning of wonder has decayed substantially. An immense distance and complex history lie between Socrates’s declaration that wisdom begins in wonder and the commercialism of today’s Wonder Bread, Wonderbra, and Wonderful World of Disney. Because few have considered wonder to be a psychologically significant experience, scholarship in this area has been negligible. Yet, amidst the travails of living, experiences of wonder can constitute transformational epiphanies and unlatch the flow of life through deepening subjectivity; magnifying perceptions; amplifying sensitivity to beauty; expanding horizons; recognizing the extraordinary in the ordinary; intuiting the sacred in the secular; and promoting possibility, delight, reverence, and gratefulness for the gift of life.

This dissertation contemplates the dimensions of the experience of wonder, wonder’s connection to soul, and how we might attune to wonder. Because wonder is both the condition and the primary principle of the phenomenological reduction (van Manen, 1990, p. 185), several scholars concur that no adequate method exists for researching wonder, for it entails a recursive paradox of wondering in wonderment about the wondrousness of wonder, with wonder having the first and last word. Therefore, this work adopts a mixed method, combining depth psychological and phenomenological approaches with hermeneutically amplified heuristic inquiry. The researcher’s experience of wonder provides the primary data, and multidisciplinary texts serve to unfold this data.

The findings identify wonder’s key themes, characteristics, valences, and nuances, and ways to attune and attend to wonder’s presence, both inside and outside the consulting room. Ultimately, the study personifies wonder as a feminine voice of soul, and advocates her inclusion in depth psychotherapy as integral to its honoring of tending the soul, the etymological root of psychotherapy itself. Wonder reveals herself as an ineffable encounter with existence and the world, an epiphany of embodied, archetypal resonance between the individual’s soul and the soul of the world, when “the universe shivers in the depths of the human” (Swimme, 1985, p. 32). This study, embracing knowledge as beginning and ending in wonder, grants her the final word.

Key words: Wonder, soul, resonance, epiphany, ineffability, attunement, attentiveness, unknowing, aesthesis, intuition.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Denney, Mike
Commitee: Koehn, Allen D., Reinders, Sophia
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
Department: Depth Psychotherapy
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 76/03(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Counseling Psychology, Clinical psychology
Keywords: Aesthesis, Epiphany, Ineffability, Resonance, Soul, Wonder
Publication Number: 3645455
ISBN: 978-1-321-34602-2
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