Dissertation Title:

A Cultural Complex of U.S. Public Schools: Children and Teachers as Puppets in Peril


Cynthia Schumacher

Date, Time & Place:

June 27, 2024 at 10:00 am


This Jungian arts-based research (JABR) engages a dream image with the Jungian process of active imagination to weave a tapestry, retrieving image-symbols from the cultural unconscious. Hermeneutic amplification of these image-symbols reveals, explores, and challenges a cultural complex woven into the fabric of the U.S. public school system. The research exposes two areas of what Jung called the shadow archetype: the historical narrative of child labor during the Industrial Revolution as a traumatic societal event, and mythic images of the Greek father-gods and parents who devoured, buried, imprisoned, maimed, or attempted to kill their children. The working hypothesis is that the trauma of child labor operates as a social force, an unconscious archetypal pattern of authority and exploitation that is imaged and illuminated by subsequent historical events and influencers in the establishment of public schools and the mythic narratives of the Greek father-gods and parents. An authoritarian father complex of the public school system contributes to cultural attitudes that view child learners as commodities—future laborers—for the nation’s economic growth and power rather than prioritizing their psychospiritual development and well-being. Also, this study investigates how a cultural complex contributes to entrenched policies that perpetuate the subject/object split, resulting in the dominance of the rational thinking function and objective teaching methods of standardized schooling and curricula. Suspended from the classroom are other ways of knowing: educative processes utilizing the body, sensation, feeling, intuition, emotion, and imagination—educative approaches “left behind” that are holistic, embodied, symbolic, transformative, humanistic, moral, and democratic.

  • Program/Track/Year: Depth Psychology with Specialization in Jungian and Archetypal Studies, N, 2018
  • Chair: Dr. Susan Rowland
  • Reader: Dr. Sukey Fontelieu
  • External Reader: Dr. Shiho Main
  • Keywords: Active Imagination, Arts-based Research, Cultural Complex, Cultural Unconscious, Subject/object Split, Transdisciplinarity