DATE: Thursday, December 6, 2012
TIME: 1:00 p.m
PLACE: Studio, Lambert Road campus
CANDIDATE: Angela Atkinson Williams
DISSERTATION TITLE: "Spirals in the Circle: Navigating the Void and States of Addiction: A Celtic Myth"
PROGRAM-TRACK/YEAR: PhD-A; 2006
CHAIR: Dr. Robert Romanyshyn
READER: Dr. Lisa Sloan
EXTERNAL READER: Dr. Paul Ashton
Williams, A.(2012). Spirals in the Circle: Navigating the Void and States of Addiction: A Celtic Myth (Doctoral dissertation, Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2012)
The psyche has difficulties in assigning meaning to incomprehensible events such as severe traumatic experiences in childhood or warfare. Ancient humans discovered that through ritual drug use answers for existential questions could be found. Similarly, traumatized individuals have need for answers to their existential questions generated by the trauma. Due to the evolutionary development of the pre-frontal cortex, humans have an innate knowledge that psychotropic drugs can achieve an expansion of consciousness necessary to find these answers. Modern society, however, with its emphasis on excess and lacking a suitable ritual container to moderate the use of these drugs, promotes an environment that leads to overindulgence in the drug and addiction. Without a spiritual container, the alcoholic or addict must first undergo a psychospiritual transformation through a baptismal in the waters of the Great Mother of consciousness that give life meaning--the Void.
This theoretical study examines the topic of the Void and states of addiction using the hermeneutic method with an imaginal approach in order to revision the underlying dynamics of addiction theory away from a pathological/disease model and towards an adaptive process of meaning-making. Celtic mythology provides allegories for the etiology of addiction as emerging from the Void at the dawn of humankind, and the individual struggle with addiction as seen as a hero's journey leading to a psychospiritual transformation needed for lifelong sobriety and meaning-making. By its very nature, the Void is difficult to describe and therefore the layout, content and writing of this study is designed to elicit for the reader an experience of the Void and thus deepen their understanding of it.
In the imaginal approach to research, outlines and threads create an alchemical hermeneutic circle. How the Void informs the states of addiction is explored by applying a depth psychological perspective to the multidisciplinary sources that emerged from engaging the Void on the topic of addiction. The resultant thread brings a sense of cohesion to these often divergent viewpoints and theoretical orientations that include biological, social, psychoanalytic, attachment, and archetypal elements, in order to form a holistic addiction theory.
Keywords: Addiction, Archetypes, Trauma, Void. Please note: All oral defense attendees must shuttle from the Best Western Hotel in Carpinteria.