Dissertation Title:

The Embodied Experience of Transition Through the Middle Years Into the Second Half of Life


Heather Beck

Date, Time & Place:

February 2, 2022 at 12:00 pm


This hermeneutical study explores the lived experience of embodied transition through the middle years into the second half of life, by engaging with depth psychological, somatic, and imaginal research approaches. By interacting with the literature and the literary imaginals through the depth psychological process of active imagination, supported by three somatic practices of Focusing®, embodied writing, and drawing, this allowed for the hermeneutical research processes to become a depth-somatic experience in tracking transition through the life passages. In moving through liminality into second adulthood, one is re-introduced to an originary call leading to the raw power of personal sovereignty and the untamed spirit; to connect with one’s inner wild with the wilds of nature. In viewing these interconnected relationships of transition (separation, liminality, reintegration) and life passages (first adulthood, middle years, second adulthood), while interacting with the literary imaginal beings and the more-than-human world, one begins to experience the numinous relationship between the outer self and the inner calling that serves to direct our lives. Through my emerging methodology I refer to as somatic hermeneutics, we invite in the language of the body of researcher and literary imaginals, thus expanding the opportunities for interpretation, while allowing the unseen imaginal others to express themselves through their own unique perspective. As intersubjective beings, we discover that to cross the threshold into second adulthood on our path toward individuation, we must look to nature and our relationship with the more-than-human world, in order to embody the sovereignty of self, of soul. By engaging with the literature through this somatic hermeneutical approach, one may find their way back to what was lost within the first half of life, both individually and collectively. In challenging the provisional ways of living one’s life, such transitional life passages serve as a summons toward soul expansion and inner growth. This intercorporeal connection between the individual, the human collective, and the more-than-human world, offers a deepening and guided pathway toward the integration and wholeness of psyche, soma, spirit, and nature.

  • Program/Track/Year: Depth Psychology Emphasis in Somatic Studies, S, 2016
  • Chair: Dr. Patrick Mahaffey
  • Reader: Dr. Susan Paidhrin
  • External Reader: Dr. Robin van Löben Sels
  • Keywords: Somatic Hermeneutics, Transition, Embodied Transition, Liminality, Imaginal, Literary Imaginal, More-than-human, Nature, Calling, Depth Psychology, Somatics, Ecopsychology, Individuation, Transformation