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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Lost moon: A depth psychological and interpetive phenomenological analysis of adolsecent heartbreak
by Smith, Erica Frances, Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2014, 216; 3667755
Abstract (Summary)

Loving is an authentic psychological task. Falling in love is a creative act, an initiatory process, and an opportunity for psychological transformation. Adolescence is a phase of life when one lives on the border, no longer a child, not yet an adult. It is during this phase when psychic and cultural imbalances are most acutely felt, making heartbreak and loss particularly difficult. This dissertation asks: how does the loss of first love, leading to a journey of descent, transform an adolescent girl's identity? This study explores the view that when we begin to view loss not as a failure, but as a journey of discovery and meaning, the adolescent girl will be transformed in a positive way.

Review of the literature establishes the work in the overlap of four key areas of study: psychological perspectives on adolescence, images of ritual of initiation, experiences of grief and loss of love for adolescents, and popular culture studies featuring adolescence. The depth psychological perspective allows commonly held beliefs about romance and love to be held up to question, most explicitly the romantic notion of the Magical Other, the idea that another person is responsible for our happiness. Depression is an important part of the initiatory process if we are to raise consciousness and make space for a new way of being.

Utilizing interpretive phenomenological analysis as a research methodology, six women shared their stories of heartbreak in an interview format. Although each case is analyzed individually, in each account there are several overlapping themes, most notably around the shadow side of love. Some encountered suffering through the loss of the relationship, whereas others during the relationship. Each participant experienced love's pathos in relationship to power, emotions, culture, sexuality, and the media. The findings of this study suggest that if we can view heartbreak as an initiatory step towards wisdom, this may help teenage girls change their view of their darkest moments as opportunities toward a meaningful life.

Key words: adolescence, depth psychology, heartbreak, initiation, love, grief.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Paris, Ginette
Commitee: Maheu, Gilles-Zenon, Pye, Lori
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
Department: Depth Psychotherapy
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 76/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Counseling Psychology
Keywords: Adolescence, Depth psychology, Grief, Heartbreak, Initiation, Love
Publication Number: 3667755
ISBN: 978-1-321-42036-4
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