Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The transcendent function, demystified: A theoretical and clinical integration
by Reid, Kenneth, Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2011, 235; 3486448
Abstract (Summary)

This theoretical study employs a hermeneutic method to research the relevance of Jung's concept of transcendent function to contemporary clinical theory and practice. The transcendent function is a central clinical and theoretical construct in Jungian literature, but it is unknown outside Jungian circles. This study, positioned within the integrative movement in clinical psychology, seeks to translate the function into a common language of therapeutic transformation that is evidence-based, phenomenologically near and clinically pragmatic, yet also holistic and non-reductive.

The study distinguishes two dimensions of transcendent function that have been inadequately differentiated in Jungian literature: a regulating/processing system and a superordinate self-state system. The study identifies the functional aspects of the regulating/processing system and compares them with published research on therapeutic change. Extensive parallels are noted.

To address the self-state system, the study compares and contrasts the transcendent function with Carl Rogers' self-actualizing tendency. The study concludes that the two constructs are substantially equivalent, with differences largely reflecting the personalities of the theorists. Applying principles from regulation theory, complexity theory, phenomenology, field theory, quantum physics and contributions from the Jungian trauma literature, the self-system is posited as a binary, state-based system prone to "phase shifts" that express either an innate self-actualizing state or a defensive state oriented toward self-preservation. Following the principle of complementarity, each self-state is regarded as an emergent totality. Each of the two self-systems is viewed as having access to the same functional core, which accounts for the persistence of both growth-oriented and defensive adaptations.

The study concludes that at any one moment a person/client/therapist is either self-actualizing or defensive (a wave or a particle); there is likely to be no middle ground. Defensiveness, however, considered as an adaptive self-state, is depathologized and the transcendent/self-actualizing function is brought phenomenologically near. Referencing current empirical research, the study formulates heuristics for identifying and mobilizing the transcendent/self-actualizing state in the clinical situation.

This study makes an original contribution to the current understanding of therapeutic action and furthers the theoretical integration of depth and humanistic models with mainstream clinical psychology.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Broderick, James
Commitee:
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 73/03, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Counseling Psychology, Personality psychology
Keywords: Jung, C.G., Rogers, Carl, Self-healing, Transcendent function
Publication Number: 3486448
ISBN: 9781267044648
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