Dissertation Title:

Becoming Conscious: Illuminating Body’s Role


Patricia C. Patrick


This research seeks to deepen understanding of the body’s role in becoming conscious. Using literary hermeneutic methodology with a somatic depth psychological lens this dissertation interprets materials from the disciplines of depth psychology, developmental theory, neuroscience/affective neurobiology and psychopharmacology. Integrating these areas of expertise supports the understanding that the body is the essential source of the ability to become conscious. These theorists include cognitive neuroscience/affective neurobiologists (A. Damasio, J. Panksepp and L. Bevin, S. W. Porges, D. J. Siegel) and the pharmacological aspects of neuroscience (S. Stahl) with depth pyschology (S. Freud, C. G. Jung, E. F. Edinger, D. Kalsched, M. Woodman) and child development theorists (J. Bowlby, M. Klein, A. Freud, M. Mahler, and D. Winnicott). According to the neuroscientists consciousness begins deep within the body, in the visceral organs neurologically traveling to the higher cortical brain, responsible for consciousness; therefore, consciousness is not only the product of the higher cortexes. According to depth psychologists and developmental theorists the process of becoming conscious begins very early in life and depends on a creative, playful space that is supported by a nurturing care giver. This intermediate space is known to depth psychologists as the home of the soul and is recognized by neuroscientists as the neuronal systems, autonomic, vagal, and dopamine. These nervous systems transmit the social neuronal networks leading to consciousness. Together, these perspectives create a deeper understanding of the role of the body in the process of becoming conscious.


Please note this dissertation defense will be rescheduled soon.

  • Program/Track/Year: Depth Psychology with Specialization in Somatic Studies, Track S, 2011
  • Chair: Dr. Patricia O. Katsky
  • Reader: Dr. Joseph Cambray
  • External Reader: Dr. Marilyn Matthews
  • Keywords: