Dissertation Title:

Then Sings My Soul: Women, Singing, and the Pathway to the Self


Karen Hebert

Date, Time & Place:

December 6, 2022 at 10:00 am


Singing potentially opens a portal to experience the Self through connection with the unconscious. This qualitative study explored the lived experiences of six female professional singers who have had a numinous encounter with the Self through singing. A Jungian approach with an archetypal lens was used to ask the question: What is the lived experience of an encounter with the Self while singing? Using interpretative phenomenological analysis, seven emergent themes were identified across the interviews around singing and the numinous. Participants described their numinous experience as evoking powerful positive emotion, felt near tears or cried, and reported the presence of vivid images, most often relating to nature. Most described a powerful experience singing that occurred before the age of 18. Every participant described having a numinous experience in the vale, and most had a peak experience in adulthood. The language used to describe the experience was explored, as a well as the meaning, which participants identified as helping to reaffirm their true self. Four additional themes were identified around singing in general—the role of fantasy and imagination in childhood, concurrent feelings of love and fear around singing, the emotional vulnerability singing evoked, and finally the innate ability of music to connect the singers physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. The study concluded with a discussion of the themes and implications of the findings relating to the individual participants and the creative capacity within everyone.

  • Program/Track/Year: Depth Therapy, H, 2016
  • Chair: Dr. Elizabeth Nelson
  • Reader: Dr. Jeanne Schul
  • External Reader: Dr. Katie Givens-Kime
  • Keywords: Singing, Self, Numinous, Women, Emotion, Anima Mundi, Imagination, Mystery, Spirit