DATE: Friday, July 25, 2014
TIME: 12:00 p.m
PLACE: Lecture Hall, Lambert Road campus
CANDIDATE: Erica Frances Smith
DISSERTATION TITLE: "Lost Moon: A Depth Psychological and Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of Adolescent Heartbreak"
PROGRAM-TRACK/YEAR: PhD-T; 2008
CHAIR: Dr. Ginette Paris
READER: Dr. Lori Pye
EXTERNAL READER: Dr. Gilles Maheu
Smith, E. (2014). Lost Moon: A Depth Psychological and Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of Adolescent Heartbreak (Doctoral dissertation, Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2014)
Loving is an authentic psychological task. Falling in love is a creative act, an initiatory process, and an opportunity for psychological transformation. Adolescence is a phase of life when one lives on the border, no longer a child, not yet an adult. It is during this phase when psychic and cultural imbalances are most acutely felt, making heartbreak and loss particularly difficult. This dissertation asks: how does the loss of first love, leading to a journey of descent, transform an adolescent girls’ identity? This study explores the view that when we begin to view loss not as a failure, but as a journey of discovery and meaning, the adolescent girl will be transformed in a positive way.
Review of the literature establishes the work in the overlap of four key areas of study: psychological perspectives on adolescence, images of ritual of initiation, experiences of grief and loss of love for adolescents, and popular culture studies featuring adolescence. The depth psychological perspective allows commonly held beliefs about romance and love to be held up to question, most explicitly the romantic notion of the Magical Other, the idea that another person is responsible for our happiness. Depression is an important part of the initiatory process if we are to raise consciousness and make space for a new way of being.
Utilizing interpretive phenomenological analysis as a research methodology, six women shared their stories of heartbreak in an interview format. While each case is analyzed individually, in each account there are several overlapping themes, most notably around the shadow side of love. Some encountered suffering through the loss of the relationship, while others during the relationship. Each participant experienced love’s pathos in relationship to power, emotions, culture, sexuality, and the media. The findings of this study suggest that if we can view heartbreak as an initiatory step towards wisdom, this may help teenage girls change their view of their darkest moments as opportunities toward a meaningful life.
Key words: adolescence, depth psychology, heartbreak, initiation, love, griefPlease 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.