Student Services Overview

DATE: Thursday, June 12, 2014
TIME: 3:00 p.m
PLACE: Studio, Lambert Road campus
CANDIDATE: Anna M. Kumor
DISSERTATION TITLE: "The Symbolic Significance of Violence: A Depth Psychological Perspective"
CHAIR: Dr. Lionel Corbett
READER: Dr. Mark Montijo
EXTERNAL READER: Dr. Stephen Diamond

Kumor, A. (2014). The Symbolic Significance of Violence: A Depth Psychological Perspective (Doctoral dissertation, Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2014)


This dissertation examines how violent dream images are used by the psyche, and toward what purpose. Theories of dream interpretation, symbol formation, and the relationship of psychopathology to violent dreams are surveyed. Research participants are chosen by their ability to remember and tolerate discussing disturbing dream material. The data includes interview transcripts. Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis is used to code and organize the interview transcripts.

Results show that violent dreams, like other dreams, have a story-like structure, which includes shadow figures. Themes in violent dreams are relational, existential, and collective in nature. Powerlessness in personal relationships and in an existential context is a common feeling among interviewees, in association with their violent dreams. Numinosity is linked with the experience of an overwhelming and life-threatening power, and is associated with both dreams and violence. Implications of these results are that the psyche uses violent images to symbolize both the human condition and transformation, which is consistent with ancient initiatory and religious rituals.

The goal of this research is to give psychotherapists and patients ways to make meaning of and contain violent dream images. The desired outcome of this research is increased use of metaphorical thinking on the part of psychotherapists who are presented with violent dreams.

Key words: dreams, violence, nightmares, symbols, alchemy, existential, metaphor, numinous


Please note: All oral defense attendees must shuttle to the Lambert Road campus from the Best Western Hotel in Carpinteria. Parking on campus is not available.