Student Services Overview

DATE: Wednesday, October 17, 2012
TIME: 3:00 p.m
PLACE: Lecture Hall, Lambert Road campus
CANDIDATE: Hillary S. Wright
DISSERTATION TITLE: "Manifestations of the Dead Mother Complex in Chaplains"
CHAIR: Dr. Avedis Panajian
READER: Dr. Christy Lewis
EXTERNAL READER: Dr. Puanani Harvey

Wright, H. (2012). Manifestations of the Dead Mother Complex in Chaplains (Doctoral dissertation, Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2012)


This study investigated the manifestations of the dead mother complex in chaplains. Dead mother complex is a phrase coined by André Green (2005) to describe the internal psychodynamic process of a person, who, during his or her formative years, experienced psychic absence from a primary caregiver. The research focused on hospital and hospice chaplains because of their possible affinity to the complex.

The research questions for this dissertation were: What are chaplains’ experiences of the dead mother complex (a) in their early formation, (b) in their significant relationships, (c) in their work as chaplains, and (d) in their relationship with God?

This research sought to utilize reproducible methods of data collection regarding the dead mother complex. The phenomenological format and active imagination were used to procure data. Phenomenological methods of analyzing data resulted in a description of manifestations of dead mother complex experienced by chaplains.

The findings provide new specific examples of the chaplains' lived experiences useful for psychologists and psychoanalysts who have patients with the dead mother complex. The importance of the role of presence is uncovered. This research also offers insights for chaplains regarding how their inner worlds relate to their vocations. Some pertinent myths and symbols are reviewed as they relate to the complex.

Keywords: dead mother complex, Andre Green, chaplain, psychoanalysis, active imagination


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