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Dissertation Title:

Vessel of Sacred Fire: Transforming the Hero Daughter Complex Through Athenian Myths


Annie Katelyn Duke

Date, Time & Place:

November 18, 2020 at


Alcoholism is a devastating disease that can affect generations of family systems unless the pattern is stopped. Research indicates that when children are raised by an alcoholic parent they unconsciously adopt their addictive patterns and form distinct behavioral roles to combat the dysfunction. Because these roles are tied to survival within the system, they often remain fixed into adulthood in what is termed as the Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA) syndrome. This research hopes to halt the perpetuation of familial addiction by approaching the ACA syndrome with depth psychological methods designed for unmasking unconscious trauma using the lens of Jungian complex theory. Specifically, this theoretical study focuses on adult daughters of alcoholics who identify as the Hero within the family system and that identification as the manifestation of a psychological complex related to the archetypal qualities of the armored goddess Athena. The methodology, alchemical hermeneutics, is employed by the researcher, who used Athena’s myths to illuminate the unconscious aspects of the Hero role. Alongside the theoretical analysis, the method of active imagination was used and a symbolic linen cloth served as a simulacrum for the complex with which the researcher held her dialogue, moving through the psychological states: unconsciousness, identification, projection, confrontation, and integration. This process was developed to illustrate a model for meaningful and transformative emotional recovery tailored to women. It contributes to the current body of therapeutic perspectives available for treatment of the ACA syndrome in the hope that depth psychological methods will prove efficacious for helping ACAs.


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  • Program/Track/Year: Depth Psychology with Specialization in Jungian and Archetypal Studies, Track N, 2015
  • Chair: Dr. Jennifer Selig
  • Reader: Dr. Sukey Fontelieu
  • External Reader: Dr. David Schoen
  • Keywords: