Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Re-souling travel: An exploration of meaningful journeys in psychologically potent places
by Dench, Darlena Dee, Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2014, 262; 3701747
Abstract (Summary)

Travelers throughout time have attested to the profoundly moving and psychologically meaningful impact of their journeys, disclosing travel’s potential as a soulful experience. Yet many travel experiences are better defined as “ego-trips,” with harmful consequences to host regions, individuals, and even the travelers themselves. Dedicated towards the notion of “re-souling” travel, this dissertation ventures into the typically unconscious aspects of Western travel.

Depth psychological in approach, this study employs hermeneutics and the symbolic perspective towards an interpretation of a few of the travel experiences recorded by two luminary psychological theorists: C. G. Jung and James Hillman. By exploring these guiding examples of soulful travel, this dissertation unearths key facets of meaning behind the impulse to travel, identifies certain ancestral and archetypal travel experiences, recognizes the role of ritual in the engagement between traveler and place, and regards the import of the traveler’s relationship with Other.

Archetypal alienated seeking, influenced by a mythos of one’s “parturition” from the natural world and spiritual belief systems, is an unconscious factor driving much of Western travel. Utilizing the symbolic approach can aid travelers in becoming aware of their consumptive and/or imperialistic behaviors, lack of meaning, the relativization of the ego, and the accompanying labor pains that are embedded in the collective history of travel as travail. Recognizing the archetypal nature of the journey can assist in uncovering the longing behind the call to explore. To that end, this study identifies archetypal experiences tied to Western travel’s ancestry: the road trip, going south, aesthetic travel, therapeutic travel and poetic travel. Ritual can cultivate the Western traveler’s receptivity to the psychological potency of place. Authentic engagement with other people and places can also be fostered through a reverent acceptance of liminality, reclaiming psychological projections, and courageous attendance to that which emerges in dialogue.

This dissertation concludes by positing that the impulse to travel is related to psyche’s desire to be mapped as the Western culture moves away from the parturition myth and towards a new mythos of an interconnected world soul.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Slater, Glen
Commitee: Brooks, Adelaide H., Morpeth, Nigel D.
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
Department: Mythological Studies
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 76/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Clinical psychology, Spirituality, Recreation
Keywords: Archetype, Mythology, Psyche, Ritual, Travel
Publication Number: 3701747
ISBN: 978-1-321-72606-0
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