DATE: Friday, November 16, 2012
TIME: 11:30 a.m
PLACE: Studio, Lambert Road campus
CANDIDATE: Marybeth Carter
DISSERTATION TITLE: "Spontaneous Visions: Agents of Wholeness and Wellness"
PROGRAM-TRACK/YEAR: PhD-B; 2006
CHAIR: Dr. Oksana Yakushko
READER: Dr. Jeffrey Raff
EXTERNAL READER: Dr. Murray Stein
Carter, M. (2012). Spontaneous Visions: Agents of Wholeness and Wellness (Doctoral dissertation, Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2012)
Spontaneous visions (e.g., the sudden experience of involuntary visual or felt experiences while awake of something that appears to be in the external world, although not necessarily of the external, material world) are experienced by people in a variety of ways. In contemporary Western schools of psychology, spontaneous visions are primarily considered to be hallucinations that are symptoms of psychotic or delusional disorders detrimental to a person’s everyday life functioning. Alternatively, in analytical psychology, some spontaneous vision experiences are called visions and categorized, along with dreams and active imagination, as vehicles that express the collective unconscious as well as certain states of being.
This study explored the experience of spontaneous visions and identified aspects consistently present in such vision experiences. Analytical psychology was the lens used for interpretation of this phenomenon. The qualitative methodology of narrative inquiry, supplemented with the alchemical hermeneutics, was used to obtain data from five people who lived in the Western world (e.g., the United States, Canada, and Europe), had no personal or familial history of psychosis or psychotic-related illnesses, and experienced spontaneous visions.
The data provided support for the theory that introversion is associated with the occurrence of spontaneous visions. Furthermore, six themes emerged from the participants’ experiences that offered preliminary evidence confirming certain theories in analytical psychology: Spontaneous visions invoked meaning-laden and developmentally significant experiences in people whose egos were able to be receptive to, rather than defend against or merge with, the unconscious contents of visions.
The result of the spontaneous vision experiences was that each of the participants felt a greater sense of wholeness and wellness. This study’s findings yield evidence that spontaneous visions can be constructive and beneficial for human development. Please note: All oral defense attendees must shuttle from the Best Western Hotel in Carpinteria.