Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A depth psychological view of the Christian myth: C. G. Jung, Elizabeth Boyden Howes, and the Guild for Psychological Studies
by Norris, Eleanor Lou, Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2008, 428; 3345861
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation presents the theoretical foundation for a depth psychological perspective of the Christian myth—as myth, not as creed or dogma—which sees it as the story not of one God-man, Jesus Christ, but of all humanity's journey of individuation and the evolution of consciousness. It also presents a particular method of study of the Christian myth, and of all myth, which I contend allows the student to see through myth to the collective unconscious, the archetypal realm from which it arises.

This psychological view derives from the work of two thinkers. The first is C. G. Jung and his theory of the archetypes of the collective unconscious, which he theorizes reveals itself to us in creative art, dreams, myths, and symbol. One of the central archetypes is the self, and one of the great symbols of the self, he theorizes, is "the Christ." It is this archetypal self which he hypothesizes came alive in psyche 2000 years ago, but was soon projected onto one person, Jesus Christ.

The second scholar is Elizabeth Boyden Howes, who, to Jung's views about the archetypal Christ, adds her belief in the centrality of Jesus of Nazareth as a human being living out his life in service to this archetype, but never identifying himself with it. Howes and associates in the Guild for Psychological Studies, founded in 1956, evolved a particular method of studying Jesus' life and teachings as told in the Synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. In a sixteen-day residential seminar which weaves together techniques which draw on critical thinking, imagination, and wisdom of the body, students are challenged to deal with their own beliefs and assumptions, conscious and unconscious, about the Christian story and its central character, Jesus. I explain the seminar process and method in the theoretical section of this dissertation, In memoir, I tell of my own experiences of many of these residential seminars, its challenges and significance for my life. I hope in this way to make clear how such study contributes to each person's own journey of individuation, and thus to the evolution of consciousness.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Mahaffey, Patrick
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 70/01, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Religion, Biblical studies, Clinical psychology
Keywords: Christ and self, Christian, Christian myth, Depth psychology, Guild for Psychological Studies, Howes, Elizabeth Boyden, Jung, C. G., Myth and history
Publication Number: 3345861
ISBN: 978-1-109-00650-6
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