Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The body: Portal and path to wholeness
by Coyle, Anne Frances, Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2011, 377; 3475549
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this dissertation is to examine how the Western bias of favoring psyche over soma negatively affects a person's emotional freedom, development of consciousness, and the practice of psychotherapy. It reviews how body-centered practices support the work of psychotherapy, shortening the time in treatment and improving the potential for psychic growth.

Western thought embraces a type of dualism that emphasizes a hierarchy of values, encouraging one-sidedness rather than holding a tension of the opposites, advocated by Taoist philosophy and Jungian psychology. Depth psychology was founded in response to many of the psychic ills which one-sidedness evokes. That foundation acknowledged the body's role in the development of the ego, while practice relied almost exclusively on analysis. Early efforts to include the body were frowned upon or worse. This beginning is reflected in standards of practice current in psychotherapy today.

The body is integral to both non-sanctioned body-oriented psychotherapies and Eastern self-cultivation practices that further the integration of unconscious energies into consciousness. Many who believe in the inherent unity of psyche and soma, think that the body constantly speaks its mind, in its habitual postures, muscular tensions, its gestures, its vitality, and its illnesses. Body oriented psychotherapeutic practices approach the psychic insults manifest in bodily rigidities through a variety of physical approaches. These methods release unconscious contents into awareness, for processing within the therapeutic container, often resulting in greater growth with less time in therapy.

Eastern self-cultivation practices are undertaken to release the inner vastness of which we are capable. They involve either mindful stillness or movement. Any movement involving skill and concentration—walking, archery, body building, dance, for example—eases access to the subconscious, while toning the body to handle the heightened energies that are released. This results in simultaneous transformation of one's consciousness as well as one's physical and emotional being.

Many therapies—Jungian analysis, Transpersonal psychology, or Pathwork for example—encourage similar energies to emerge and integrate. Combining therapeutic approaches and self-cultivation practices nurtures the wholeness that results from replacing psychic fragmentation with assimilation of personal and collective archetypal energies.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Slattery, Dennis Patrick, Galindo, Nancy
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 72/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Psychology, Spirituality, Physiological psychology
Keywords: Body-mind, Consciousness, Depth psychology, Jungian, Psychic development, Somatic psychology
Publication Number: 3475549
ISBN: 978-1-124-88454-7
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