Dissertation Title:

Excavating the Mythic Mind: Origins, Collapse, and Reconstruction Of Personal Myth on the Journey Toward Individuation


Joe D. Elenbaas

Date, Time & Place:

March 9, 2016 at 11:00 am
Studio, Lambert Road campus


This dissertation is a close examination of the theory of individuation as set forth by C. G. Jung. Specifically, this study employs Jung’s guiding image of archaeology as an overarching method by which to conceptualize the layered process of uncovering the contents of the unconscious in relationship to the quest for individuation. In keeping with Jung’s life-long quest to discover his personal myth, this study assumes that personal myth as one’s unfolding and ongoing narrative, is a given psychological phenomenon that is inherent to all human beings. In doing so, exploring the psychic contents that structures personal myth and what ostensibly constitutes the mythic mind from a depth psychological perspective, is primary.

The theory that human beings are meaning-making and meaning-seeking creatures is a foundational presupposition and is assumed throughout the study. Following this theory, it is apparent that many persons will relate deeply to Jung’s theory and engage in the journey toward individuation. By understanding the possible neurobiological and psychic origins of brain and mind, the foundational basis for the theory of psyche, or soul, is established.

By reflection upon the strengths and constraints of human thought and behavior, and the obvious stages that human beings pass through from birth to death, it is recognized that those who seek individuation will typically experience some measure of psychic trauma. Therefore, the collapse of one’s personal myth is a notable feature of the quest toward individuation and is exhibited as existential anxiety typically demonstrated in the fear and denial of death.

By willingly engaging in the journey of the hero, as set forth in the theory of the monomyth as elucidated by Joseph Campbell, and recognizing the need to find a new orientation for life, the process of the reconstruction of a more healthy myth for living is structured and activated.

This dissertation does not offer suggestions that would over-specify how individuals might individuate, rather, it offers theoretical models as possible templates for engaging in and sustaining the individuation process.



This is due to Pacifica’s conditional use permit, which restricts campus parking. Please call 896-1887 or 896-1888 for a shuttle pickup from the Best Western. A Pacifica shuttle driver will pick you up within 10 minutes or so and take you to the campus.

Thank you for your kind consideration

  • Program/Track/Year: Mythological Studies, Track G, 2011
  • Chair: Dr. Patrick Mahaffey
  • Reader: Dr. Dana White
  • External Reader: Dr. David Gaunt
  • Keywords: Individuation, C. G. Jung, Personal Myth, Hero’s Journey, Joseph Campbell, Meaning