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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Seek and Destroy: A Heuristic Self-Search Inquiry on the Etiology of Existential Injury in Autism Spectrum Disorder and Turner Syndrome
by Whitaker, Ashley Lorraine, Ph.D., Saybrook University, 2018, 469; 10688746
Abstract (Summary)

This heuristic self-search inquiry (Sela-Smith, 2001, 2002) study reviews empirical and theoretical research on Autism Spectrum Disorder (Asperger, 1938, 1944; Bleuler, 1910, 1911a, 1911b; Kanner, 1943) and Turner Syndrome (Funke, 1902; Turner, 1938; Ullrich, 1930). It conjoins with existing literature on the main principles of existential-humanistic psychology and psychotherapy to prompt a heuristic investigation of the problem of the researcher-participant’s veridical reference as it pertains to her subjective experience. The purpose of the study was to elucidate the complementarity of what the existential-humanistic literature refers to as the intelligible responses of her equiprimordial I-who-feels encounter with biopsychological trauma as an initiator of chronic existential injury as an adult diagnosed with a conglomerate of associated clinical symptoms to sketch out their possible existential etiologies.

Stimuli precipitating heuristic data collection included psychotherapy sessions, childhood medical records, medical examinations and consultations conducted during the study, and prior academic work. The heuristic data collection adhered to Moustakas’ (1990) phases and processes of research. Schneider’s (2008/2015) expansion-constriction continuum model of consciousness of six-domains (physiological, environmental, cognitive, psychosexual, interpersonal, and experiential) was used to analyze the heuristic data and decipher whether tacit knowledge of the researcher-participant’s I-who-feels experience was discovered in the inquiry. A Heuristic-Expansion-Constriction Change scale was designed to subjectively measure degree of change in each domain. Bronfenbrenner’s (1979) biosystemic model of human development was employed to conceptualize the etiology of existential injury across four systems of being: the microsystem, mesosystem, ectosystem, and macrosystem.

The heuristic research findings indicated a high degree of meta-level abstraction in the researcher-participant paralleled by the review of the literature. Populations experiencing recalcitrant complications of similar ilk might gain insight into their psychological etiologies of by, through self-examination and change, acknowledging resistance to the I-who-feels . Additionally, ongoing interdisciplinary intervention by an established care team providing medical and psychotherapeutic support might prove satisfactorily beneficial. Data was distilled into a series of recommendations that existential-humanistic psychotherapists might adopt when working with clients exhibiting chronic existential injury due to multiplex medical symptoms. Implications for these populations were subsequently discussed, with special recommendations provided for medical providers on addressing existential concerns in patients.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Dias, Jason E.
Commitee: Krippner, Stanley C., Schneider, Kirk J.
School: Saybrook University
Department: Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 79/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Psychobiology, Philosophy, Psychology
Keywords: Autism Spectrum Disorder, Existential-humanistic psychology, Existentialism, Heuristic self-search inquiry, Phenomenology, Turner Syndrome
Publication Number: 10688746
ISBN: 978-0-355-68479-7
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