Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Witnessing the demon: A post-World War II/post-Holocaust perspective for cultural therapy
by Oishi, Sabine Mertens, Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2010, 289; 3500724
Abstract (Summary)

This theoretical dissertation, undertaken from an archetypal perspective, is a psychological reading of biographical, historical, sociological, and fictional texts pertaining to the genocidal perpetrations of Nazi Germany. Without analyzing history for the psychological causes of events, the work an investigation into memory—memory as the soul's demand for attention to its own recurring patterns in the world.

The inquiry assumes the validity of Jung's myth for modern man—that consciousness is not only experienced by its human carriers, but also is created in the process of our meaning-making as we confront the ineffable in literal experiences. The interpretive chapters investigate the personified collective images of the Perpetrator, Demon, Judge, and Witness about their experience and memory of Nazi-era perpetration in an attempt to recognize their styles of knowing and remembering and how these styles both emanate from, and contribute to, collective consciousness. The collective image of each archetypal figure is glimpsed in the interaction between what particular humans said and did under the influence of a particular archetype, and what was said and felt in response to those words and actions by the commenting collective, as reflected in journalism, literature, and scholarship.

Each interpretive chapter chooses from a set of psychological moves: compassionate listening (listening through the literal to the value level of a story); psychologizing, personifying, pathologizing and dehumanizing; complex reading; and etymology and translation applied to representative texts to deepen into the nature of each archetypal person. The inquiry is divided into four chapters, the first examining the nature of perpetration; the second looking into the demon's hunger and its influence on the perpetrator's actions; the third placing the perpetrator before the bar, examining not only the penalties for the perpetrator's unconsciousness, but also penetrating the consciousness that would judge him, and how the judge's perspective reflects an emerging albeit conflicted moral collective awareness. The final interpretive chapter examines the process of cultural therapy as a means of invoking the witness, whose mode of knowing offers opportunities for the making of third-thing meanings as a means of becoming responsible to past and present cultural perpetrations.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Coppin, Joseph
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 73/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Holocaust Studies, Clinical psychology, Spirituality
Keywords: Archetypal figures, Cultural therapy, Post-Holocaust
Publication Number: 3500724
ISBN: 978-1-267-22036-3
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