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Dissertation Title:

The Mother’s Journey of the Self: A Somatic Exploration of How Mothers Make Meaning of Loss


Rebecca Morgan

Date, Time & Place:

April 13, 2021 at 9:00 am


This dissertation details a study in which a group of mothers participated in interviews that included the use of imagery, myth, and movement to explore loss as an aspect of the Mother archetype and thereby a ubiquitous feature of the many images of Mother. The research investigates loss as a guiding current that flows within a woman’s relationship with her mother, her understanding of herself as mother, and how members of the collective culture mother or fail to mother each other. Using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) and depth psychological and somatic approaches, this study examines the mother’s lived experience of loss and how she makes meaning of it. The purpose of this study is to bring awareness to how loss expresses through the psyche and body and thereby enrich the understanding of embodied loss as it manifests for the mother and how it may influence a personal and cultural definition of Mother. The intention for the phenomenological study was to give participants the opportunity to contemplate the ways they have experienced loss, to consider loss as purposeful and necessary, and to examine what may be out of conscious awareness by using the body to communicate implicit knowledge. The central themes that emerged from the study were the ambivalence inherent in the role of mother, the loss and reclaiming of self, and the purpose in loss. These themes together reveal a path within the mother’s journey to individuation that were observed in the analysis of the movement and verbal data.

  • Program/Track/Year: Depth Psychology with emphasis in Somatic Studies, S, 2013
  • Chair: Dr. Lori Pye
  • Reader: Dr. Jacqueline Feather
  • External Reader: Dr. Marti Glenn
  • Keywords: Mother, Maternal, Individuation, Psyche, Demeter, Authentic Movement, Self, Loss, Somatic