A transpersonal exploration of the mother-daughter relationship in transitional life cycles

De Villiers, Marleen (2012-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The mother-daughter relationship and the feminine principle in the process of individuation are explored in this study. The mother-daughter relationship as the focus of the study is presented as the womb where the stories and experiences are in gestation. In presenting this research as a transpersonal exploration, the principles and practices of transpersonal psychology and transpersonal research are used as the lens through which the process of research is viewed. The study tells the stories of adolescent daughters and their menopausal mothers and their lives as girls and women in transitional life cycles. It also tells the stories of the author's mother and of herself, and offers their shared experiences of being daughters, and remembering that they are also the daughters of daughters, the mothers of whom have passed away a long time ago. The stories are presented in the mode of a narrative inquiry, becoming an exploration in itself. The author looks into the stories of what has been written by those who have mapped the territory of the transpersonal and narrative landscapes in psychology, education, research and psychotherapy. A research collage of the mother-daughter relationship, transitional life cycles, and also of aspects of the feminine and the process of individuation is created. Images of alchemy, archetypes, mythological figures and archetypal goddesses are added to allow this collage to become its own story. The study combines research methods used in transpersonal research and narrative inquiry. Data were gathered by making use of journal writing, mandala drawings, interviews, visual imagery and photographs, collage, writing letters, personal documentation, dreamwork, working with words and personal mythology. Transpersonal principles such as meditation, reflection, mandala drawings, intuitive listening and so forth were applied in working with the data. The researcher also used principles of narrative inquiry to assist in the process of processing the information and finding the stories. The research findings that emerged indicate that a mother and daughter can hold up a mirror to each other in order to see that there are experiences of abandonment and dependency in their relationship; another mother and daughter pair related to each other from a basis of limiting self-experience; and yet another mother and her daughter were seen to have a relationship that contains powerful potential for individuation through the process of growth and transformation. These findings may be relevant to the therapeutic and educational spheres of psychology, in training and in application. This research journey is an adventure that can be seen as symbolically walking the labyrinth, following the circular path towards the centre, and then back again, out into life. This journey is symbolic of the process of individuation as based on the mythology of the serpent Ouroboros that swallows its tail in order to become whole. The process of alchemy in psychology forms the container for this journey into wholeness. Like Theseus, beloved of Ariadne of antiquity, I took the golden thread in hand and stepped into the labyrinth. The journey could begin …

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie verken die moeder-dogter verhouding en die vroulike beginsel in die individuasieproses. Die moeder-dogterverhouding as die fokus van hierdie studie word voorgestel as 'n houer vir die bewaring van belangrike aspekte van die vroulike beginsel. Die modus van transpersoonlike sielkunde en navorsing is gebruik om as 'n lens te dien waardeur hierdie proses ondersoek is. Die narratiewe navorsingsmetode is gebruik om die stories te vertel wat in hierdie studie aangebied word. Hierdie stories gaan oor die navorsingsreis, die reis van dogter-wees en moeder-wees, die reis van vrou-wording en vrou-wees in die oorgangsfases van vroue se lewens. Dit behels stories van adolessensie en die menopouse. Daarnaas geplaas is die stories van my moeder, van myself, en van ons verhouding. In hierdie vertelling oor die moeder skryf ek dit as die dogter van 'n dogter wie se moeder lank reeds oorlede is. Ek onderneem 'n reis deur die landskap van die literatuur en neem daaruit stories van aspekte van vrou-wees, van die vroulike beginsel, asook van transpersoonlike sielkunde en transpersoonlike navorsing. Dit gaan ook oor die narratiewe wyse van ondersoek en die waarde van stories in narratiewe terapie word bespreek. Hierdie navorsingsreis is 'n speurtog; soos in 'n labirint is dit 'n sirkelvormige reis, wat die mitologiese slang, Ouroboros, wat sy eie stert insluk om heel te word weerspieël. Die labirinte van die mitologie en argetipiese vroubeelde en godinne stem tot nadenke oor die sielkundige ervaring van individuasie. In die nadenke is daar, soos met die alchemiste van weleer, 'n soeke die goud in die lood en die bevindinge wat die navorsingsreis oplewer, word bekendgemaak. In hierdie reis is gebruik gemaak van transpersoonlike en narratiewe navorsingsmetodes en beginsels om die inligting te verkry waarmee die stories vertel kon word. Hierdie metodes maak onder meer gebruik van joernaalskryf, mandalas teken, onderhoude, visuele beelde en foto's, collage, briewe, persoonlike dokumente, droomwerk, woorde en woordassosiasie en persoonlike mitologie. Transpersoonlike werkswyses soos meditasie, refleksie, intuitiewe luister, joernaal skrywe en so meer is gekombineer met narratiewe werkswyses om die inligting te verwerk en die stories te ontgin. Die navorsingsbevindinge dui op ervaringe van afhanklikheid en vrese van verlating; van 'n moeder en dogter wat gebuk gaan onder beperkende ervaringe van selfvertwyfeling en die implikasie wat dit het vir hulle vrou-wees; van 'n moeder en haar dogter wat die potensiaal vir die proses van individuasie in hulle verhoudinge met hul vroueliggame vind. Die implikasies van hierdie bevindinge mag moontlik van belang wees vir sielkundiges en opvoedkundiges wat hulle in hierdie sfere van hulpverlening bevind. Soos Theseus, beminde van Ariadne van ouds, het ek die goue draad ter hand geneem en daarmee die ingang van die labirint betree. Die reis moes begin …

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