Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Cave of San Francisco: A Psychological Phenomenological Study of Healing and Place
by Higgins, Nicholas Henry Simpson, Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2009, 481; 10830439
Abstract (Summary)

This study explored the parallels between psychological healing practice in the Cave of San Francisco and contemporary psychotherapy. Interviews were conducted in the Dominican Republic with seven individuals who had experienced healing effects as a result of participation in this healing system. A psychological phenomenological methodology was utilized to analyze the interviews resulting in a general structural account of the experience. Seven primary psychological themes operative in a tri-part sequence define the healing experience within this system. These themes include presenting problem, belief system, healing relationships, ritual actions, pivotal moment, setting, and outcome. The first part of the healing sequence appears to set up the healing response. The second part involves the pivotal moment and acts as a demarcation point between the experience of illness and first steps toward health. The third part of the healing sequence acts to cement already obtained healing gains.

The results of this research reveal (a) a psychological healing system which represents a form of psychotherapy, (b) a cultural healing system which stands as a portrait of healing for a certain segment of the Dominican population, (c) a healing practice related to a cave shrine which illuminates the potential healing effects of cave shrines worldwide. A significant finding relates healing response to setting, suggesting that the specific space of the cave is implicated in stimulating the innate, total healing response in the person. The holistic, cohesive nature of this system, highlighting the interaction between universal psychological healing ingredients, strongly suggests that psychological healing is a broader and more comprehensive operation than it is characterized by many current psychotherapies. Finally, through exploring the roots of psychological healing in the naturalistic setting of a cave, this research reminds psychotherapy of the archetypal healing power that is at its basis.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Kipnis, Aaron
Commitee: Guitar, Lynne, Pye, Lori
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
Department: Clinical Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 79/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Caribbean Studies, Psychology, Clinical psychology
Keywords: Cave, Dominican, Healing, Phenomenological, Place, Psychological
Publication Number: 10830439
ISBN: 9780438081895
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