Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Sons of Orpheus: An archetypal phenomenological exploration of music, men, and intimacy
by Thomas, Douglas Craig, Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2010, 279; 3447667
Abstract (Summary)

An intense reaction to a piece of music bears a strong resemblance to the Jungian constituents of an archetypal encounter. This dissertation explores how such experiences occur in the lives of men, affording them access to intimacy as a mode of archetypal experience. It poses the research question: what could be revealed by exploring the archetypal relation between music, men, and intimacy? The study bases its approach on the core concepts of James Hillman and the field of archetypal psychology, which imagines the individuation of archetypal images from the personal psyche as soul-making. The mythic figure of Orpheus appears throughout the study as a point of access into the archetypal dimension of the research and its findings.

Previous research on the topics of music psychology, male psychology, and intimacy have given scant attention to the archetypal substrate of these expressions of psychological life, nor how they converge in the lived experience of an intense reaction to music. This study interviews a diverse group of six men, asking them for an in depth description of an intense experience in music. The descriptive phenomenological psychological method of Giorgi and Giorgi (2004) provides an analysis of the interview transcripts, which identifies ten common themes, and synthesizes the phenomenon's essential structure. The research finds that music provides men access to a full range of emotions, relationships, and contexts for both revealing and expressing various aspects of their identity. Images and movement are frequently present, and men turn to the richness of metaphorical and poetic language to describe their experiences. Themes of memory, loss, death, and existential meaning are common, as well as the numinous sense of awe encountering a powerful presence outside oneself. Men describe music as a source of personal learning and discovery. A wide range of intense physical reactions are also present. The discussion of the findings treats these themes as archetypal images returning to their mythic primordial origins, and providing a practical articulation of the core concepts from archetypal psychology.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Nelson, Elizabeth
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 72/05, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Music, Psychology, Gender studies
Keywords: Archetypal psychology, Intimacy, Men, Music, Orpheus, Phenomenology
Publication Number: 3447667
ISBN: 9781124520827
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