Dissertation Title:

Using Imaginal Mythology to Enhance Well-Being in Family Caregivers


Karin Elizabeth Zirk

Date, Time & Place:

December 8, 2015 at 12:15 pm
Townhouse, Lambert Road campus


The purpose of this participatory, mythologically oriented on-line study was to determine if working with mythic artifacts in an imaginal manner as a form of self-care results in enhanced well-being among long-term caregivers. The on-line workshop for adult women caring for a parent uses caregiving topics paired with mythic narratives and encourages journal writing to provided topics. The study relies on existing quantitative research such as the National Institute of Health’s General Well-Being Schedule and the National Caregiver Alliance et al. series of caregiving studies from 2007 – 2015 as well as qualitative methods of inquiry. The workshop itself and the mythologically oriented questionnaire engage participants in imaginal mythology – a method that refrains from interpreting mythic artifacts according to their culture of origin but rather focuses on engaging mythic consciousness and stimulating psychological movements. In this context, engaging with mythic materials provided non-verbal knowledge to participants by functioning in the realm of the imagination and emotion thereby helping to unite the personal with the cultural. Grounded in mythology, feminist, and depth psychology methodologies, the creativity workshop focuses on the caregiver as a critical subject, who by engaging her imagination can create pathways to reimaging her caregiving experiences. The study concluded that those caregivers, who completed the workshop, experienced an increase in well-being. Narrative responses reveal that the caregiver’s loving relationship to the parent is at the core of a dynamic ethics. The primary method of analysis is mythic amplification, which connects the characteristics of participant questionnaire responses to a multiplicity of mythic figures thereby creating more complex and critical relationships between participant responses and god(esse)s. Finally, an analysis of the manner in which humans create, revise, and explore mythic materials reveals the emergence of the female trickster embodying the paradox of the caregiving experience. This research methodology is applicable to many other subject populations with the appropriate changes in mythic content.



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Thank you for your kind consideration

  • Program/Track/Year: Mythological Studies, Track E, 2009
  • Chair: Dr. Laura Grillo
  • Reader: Dr. Priscilla Taylor
  • External Reader: Dr. Carol Schilling
  • Keywords: