Dissertation Title:

Mother Goddess: Archetypal Landscapes in the Lived Experience of Gestational Surrogates


Dominique Yarritu

Date, Time & Place:

July 14, 2021 at 9:00 am


For millennia, women who experienced infertility or couples unable to carry a pregnancy to term were denied genetic parenthood.  Recent 20th century advances in medical and reproductive technologies, the creation of in-vitro fertilization, and gestational surrogacy have provided infertile women, men, and their partners the once unfathomable ability to parent children born of their own genetic material.  Through the lens of somatic analytical psychology, using hermeneutical phenomenology as a method informed by alchemical hermeneutics, this qualitative research explores the lived experience of gestational surrogates.  It attempts to shed light on the unconscious motivations that lead them to undertake multiple gestational journeys to carry children for others.  Data was gathered through conversational interviews with six gestational surrogates who contracted with two surrogacy agencies in California.  The analysis of the embodied transcriptions revealed the overarching archetypal theme of the mother goddess characterized by fertility, love, connection and community, empathy, specialness, death, rebirth, and transformation.  Symbols and images that emerged during the conversations further anchored the archetype of the mother goddess, while the theme of the shadow unveiled the dark sides of their labor of love.  Ultimately, the research findings highlighted that the vocation to nurture and mother for others, at the source of an unconscious drive to re-pair and create deep connections, is the bedrock of the gestational surrogates’ path to individuation.

  • Program/Track/Year: Depth Psychology emphasis in Somatic Studies, Track S, 2014
  • Chair: Dr. Jeanne Schul
  • Reader: Dr. Kathryn Madden
  • External Reader: Dr. Janetti Marotta
  • Keywords: Mother Goddess, Archetype, Infertility, Gestational Surrogacy, In-vitro Fertilization, Individuation, Third Party Reproduction, Soul-making