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Dissertation Title:

The Clinical Implications of Narcissistic Phenomena in Contemporary Popular Music From a Depth Psychological Perspective


Bradford James White

Date, Time & Place:

September 4, 2015 at 2:00 pm
Townhouse, Lambert Road campus


Psychologists across disciplines have examined narcissistic phenomena for over a century. Through the lenses of social constructivism and depth psychology, this dissertation illuminates the clinical psychological implications of narcissistic phenomena in American culture through an archival, phenomenological analysis of a specific cultural artifact: the lyrics of contemporary popular music. The importance of music and its critical, co-creating relationship with culture was also emphasized, and the history of narcissistic phenomena, music, and psychology were examined to lay the ground for an archival phenomenological psychological approach. An adaptation of Garza’s (2004; 2011) phenomenological thematic collative procedure was performed on the lyrics of five songs selected annually (between 2009 to 2013) for their cultural significance and potential for revealing narcissistic phenomena. The procedure for analyzing the data revealed a total of 40 thematic threads that were hermeneutically reduced into five primary interrelated categories grounded in the centrality of the speaker’s subjectivity. In each of the archived texts, the data revealed that the speaker was primarily engaged in a project to be above and apart from others. This project was sustained and maintained by the centrality of the speaker’s subjectivity. The hermeneutically reduced, distinct, related thematic threads were referenced and further elaborated upon in a cumulative thematic narrative that disclosed the horizons of narcissistic phenomena in our culture as revealed through popular, contemporary music. A depth psychological approach illuminated and acknowledged the existential crises of narcissistic phenomena, particularly emptiness and meaninglessness, through implicitly trusting that the patient’s own symptomology contains within it the rhizome of healing and wholeness, thus fostering the clinician’s genuine curiosity in the patient, which in turn may allow the patient to finally foster genuine curiosity in themselves, to begin to relate with themselves, and to develop an interest in empathically relating with other human beings.


**Please note: All oral defense attendees must shuttle to campus from the Best Western in Carpinteria due to Pacifica’s conditional use permit**

  • Program/Track/Year: Clinical Psychology, Track A, 2008
  • Chair: Dr. James Broderick
  • Reader: Dr. Paula Thomson
  • External Reader: Dr. Gilbert Garza
  • Keywords: