Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Working with the imaginal: Art-making and dialogue with figures of soul
by Tomlinson, Kay L., Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2008, 385; 3345860
Abstract (Summary)

Women's voices have long been silenced and our work demeaned by our patriarchal culture, leading to profound and internalized devaluation of our worth as human beings and the loss of a sense of ourselves as persons with stories worth telling. Through art-making, dreamwork, imaginal dialogues, and waking-world experiences, I explore the resonance between my own archetypal complexes and my experiences of the Ladies, a group of imaginal women. This dissertation tells the story of its own process, and in the telling, recovers the importance of "women's work" that in each moment creates soul and embodies our connection with the Divine.

The art pieces created during this process express a temporal and psychic shift, emerging from early Victorian repression through mid-nineteenth-century control and sexualization to the embodiment of a psychic space in which sexuality, sensuality, and activity can be freely expressed. This process reflects a similar transformation in my own psyche, as I moved from a deep sense of isolation, repression, and fear of speaking out, into a more open and confident expression of my self, my voice, and my art.

A major challenge facing depth psychology is to understand the nature of the imaginal world and the ways that we can and do interact with it. This imaginal dissertation addresses the challenge by documenting what the dissertation process and product look like when the work is done in the imaginal way, from within a collaborative field co-emerging between the waking world and the imaginal world. Within this field we have access to a wisdom that surpasses the rational by taking advantage of the quantum nature of reality—the psychoid archetype.

The study uses a radical approach that steps out from alchemical hermeneutics and refigures the traditional distinction between inner work and outer work, between thought and action, between research as scholarly reflection and the act of being in the world. It recaptures an essentially feminine way of knowing, and demonstrates that the boundaries between the "real" world and the imaginal are not as rigid as we have been taught. The imaginal is always in between and always co-arising.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Romanyshyn, Robert D.
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 70/01, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Womens studies, Clinical psychology
Keywords: Alchemical hermeneutics, Depth psychology, Imaginal world, Women and patriarchy, Women's voice
Publication Number: 3345860
ISBN: 9781109006490
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