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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A Sea of Voices: An Alchemical Journey Through Dissociation
by Courtney, Susan Jean, Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2015, 298; 3734554
Abstract (Summary)

This traditional hermeneutic and alchemical hermeneutical study investigates the dissociative states of polyfragmentation (multiple nodes of identity), depersonalization (body-soul detachment), and derealization (detachment from the world) through depth psychological theory on the interconnectivity of psyche and matter, including Jungian interpretation of the medieval practice of alchemy. The study focuses on the alchemical salt sparks or scintillae as dissociated psychical fragments, an image explored through the psycho-physical states of solutio (disequilibrium) and coagulatio (equilibrium) as integral to the process of psychological transformation that Jung termed individuation. A central aspect of this work is derived from my direct experience with the psyche-matter connection. Specifically, I was drawn to explore salts in solution through my reflection on a memory of struggling not to capsize my kayak on the uterine-shaped Nestucca Bay, which seemed to mirror my in utero struggle not to be expelled from the salty amniotic fluid of my mother’s womb, as if the saltwater bay were interconnected with my physical and psychical history. Correspondingly, my methodology, based on Jung’s practice of active imagination, incorporates engagements with Great Mother images of Bay, Ocean, and Saltmarsh. A core assumption shaping this work is that reflective, personal journeys to liminal repositories of submerged memories can extend depth psychological inquiry of dissociative states while impelling an integrative movement of the researcher’s body and soul (Hillman, 2010b, p. 17).

This study investigates possibilities of the convergence of psyche and matter in the alchemical image of magnetic resonance of salt and the corresponding electromagnetic resonance of salts in solution. The study suggests that a psycho-physical resonance might be discerned within the body and soul, among people, and between people and the Earth, and that reflective engagements with elements and forces of nature might increase the resonance. In such meetings, I argue that a transpsychic, suprasensory faculty transmutes symbols of the unitary, underlying, nonmaterial realm into material reality (Corbin, 1995, pp. 15-16), circumscribed within the Sufi notion of himma—an experience of the transpersonal imagination that exists as a “third possibility between mind and world” (Hillman, 1981, pp. 1-3).

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Le Grice, Keiron
Commitee: Sloan, Lisa, Waliser, Duane
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
Department: Depth Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 77/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Psychology
Keywords: Depersonalization, Jung, Psychoid, Resonance, Salt, Solutio
Publication Number: 3734554
ISBN: 978-1-339-23171-6
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