Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The homeless mutes: The psychological exile of Persian expatriate women under the patriarchy
by Mahfar, Helen, Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2011, 317; 3701302
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this phenomenological study is to investigate how expatriate Persian women, living in the United States, experience the damaging influence of traditional patriarchy. The resulting alienation from the self and this alienation’s attendant psychological symptoms have been investigated under the conceptual heading of psychological exile, which has been treated by many preeminent schools in the psychotherapeutic tradition. The contemporary dynamic of exile has been set within a historical context, in which the rise of monotheism led to the destruction of matriarchal power structures.

In order to focus on how psychological exile is experienced by Persian women in diaspora, a phenomenological method was adopted: Persian women from three different age groups were interviewed, and their interviews were revised through a collaborative process between the interviewer and participants. The psychological essence of these related experiences was then distilled through the Giorgi method of interview data analysis (Giorgi & Giorgi, 2003), combined with Robert Romanyshyn’s method of Portrait Analysis (Romanyshyn, personal communications, 2010, 2011). From each of the three groups, emergent common themes were extracted and compared.

The patriarchal system has favored males and devalued females for centuries; each generation transmits its conceptual framework and cultural practices to the next generation, a process in which women are themselves complicit. This patriarchal system has not just limited the role of women in society, but has also actively damaged them by marring their identities, compromising their feminine natures, hiding them behind the veil of abroo, and robbing them of their natural language. These wounds manifest themselves through sexual repression, depression, and various other psychological symptoms.

The elucidation of how these women experience hierarchy’s damaging effects will have many implications for therapists treating Persians. This research project was undertaken with the goal of providing a roadmap for therapists treating Persian clients.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Panajian, Avedis
Commitee: Herzog, Jessica, Sloan, Lisa
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
Department: Clinical Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 76/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Middle Eastern history, Womens studies, Middle Eastern Studies, Clinical psychology
Keywords: Patriarchy, Persian women, Psychology
Publication Number: 3701302
ISBN: 9781321718515
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