Student Services Overview

DATE: Monday, July 30, 2012
TIME: 3:00 p.m.
PLACE: Studio, Lambert Road campus
CANDIDATE: Frances Camberis
DISSERTATION TITLE: "Healing the Wound of Hysterectomy through the Archetype of the Womb"
CHAIR: Dr. Patrick Mahaffey
READER: Dr. Elizabeth Terzian

Camberis, F. (2012). Healing the Wound of Hysterectomy through the Archetype of the Womb (Doctoral dissertation, Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2012)


Every year over 600,000 American women have hysterectomies to eliminate the symptoms of non–cancerous uterine distress. For ninety percent of these women, less invasive options exist that will keep their reproductive system intact. However, many of them will never know this since the act of hysterectomy, under the constructs of Managed Healthcare, is a seventeen billon dollar a year business in the United States.

This theoretical dissertation asks, given such information, what is the genesis of this medically sanctioned mutilation of women’s reproductive organs? Why is it acceptable to promote the use of hysterectomy on our mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters when many of these surgeries are unnecessary? Why is it that women who eagerly promote choice in matters of conception and retention of fetuses ignore the lack of choice that is associated with hysterectomy, also a quality of life changing event? Finally, where are the voices of women who can offer testimony to the effects of this surgical procedure on their bodies and psyches, thereby validating and supporting the 600,000 who yearly join their ranks?

 Hysterectomy is not just a surgical procedure, it is also sociological event which each woman processes differently as she attempts to reenter her “old life.” Many of these women experience hysterectomy as a shadow initiation and a rite of passage, which is never spoken of either within their cultural milieu, or amongst the women in their own families. Of the many factors which have historically conspired to control and dismember the body of woman––institutionalized Monotheism, the code of uterine morality, the inherent pathology of woman known as hysteria, and her perceived bipolar nature––none is more injurious to the hysterectomy survivor than the silence of women which ensues. This dissertation advocates the establishment of hysterectomy support groups to break this silence by promoting a discussion of the quality of life issues facing its members within a safe, secure, and sacred space. Only through the process of validating each woman’s authentic voice as she shares her lived historic narrative can the celebration of her transformation, transition, and emergence into her differentiated self occur.


Please note: All oral defense attendees must shuttle from the Best Western Hotel in Carpinteria.