Imaginal Structures of Foster Mothers that Support the Attachment Process

Davis, Lois (2012) Imaginal Structures of Foster Mothers that Support the Attachment Process. Doctoral thesis, Meridian University.

[img]
Preview
Text
IR_DavisLois_Diss_Final.pdf

Download (28MB) | Preview

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to research the imaginal structures, or internal representations, of experienced professional foster mothers. The Research Problem was: In what ways does exploration of imaginal structures related to attachment among foster mothers provide insight into the foster mother’s attachment process with adolescent foster children? It was hypothesized: imaginal structures related to attachment are activated among foster mothers; from awareness, access, acceptance, and working relationship to negative affects, insecure attachment patterns can be transmuted into the capacity for secure attachment. The Literature Review is a combined exploration of the fields of Attachment Theory, foster care, and Imaginal Psychology. The literature review discusses attachment patterns and how these patterns relate to the primary caregiver. Attachment research provides information as to how maternal behaviors can contribute to secure or insecure attachment patterns. The foster care section articulates the social and economic changes that have molded modern foster care services. The Imaginal Psychology section discusses the maternal archetype, imaginal structures, and how aspects of depth psychology intersect with Attachment Theory, attachment research, and the qualities of traditional foster mothers. The Literature Review demonstrates that there is limited research on the v qualities of professional foster mothers. By examining the imaginal structures of effective foster mothers, insights into their capacities were gained on personal, cultural, and archetypal levels. Imaginal Inquiry was the methodology used in the research design. It is a qualitative methodology that is situated within the participatory paradigm. Imaginal Inquiry includes four phases: evoking, expressing, interpreting, and integrating experience. The design of the research specifies that experienced foster mothers will meet over the course of a weekend. During these meetings, the experiences, images, and meaning-making of seven foster mothers were interpreted. Experiences were expressed in art and story telling of material images. The cumulative learning states that bringing negative affects related to attachment failures to consciousness through shared meaning-making and imaginal activities facilitates the integration of these affects, expands one’s capacity to recognize one’s own maternal shadow, and lessons the possibility of unconscious enactment. Five Learning’s were derived from the research data. Learning One states that those unable to confront and metabolize the negative affects of shame, distress, and fear that arise in response to an exploration of attachment failure defend against these affects by internalizing responsibility for these failures and over-idealizing and/or caretaking neglectful or abusive parents. The second Learning states: The narrative sharing of adult over-idealization of neglectful or abusive parents, as well as challenging the cultural taboos against expressing anger towards one’s mother, breaks down the dissociation from one’s affective experience allowing for an interpersonal resonance associated with secure attachment. The third Learning states that expression of affective experiences of negative vi mothering may inhibit unconscious enactment of those experiences by bringing them to consciousness and allowing integration. Learning Four states that working with adolescents whom have experienced significant attachment failures requires the ability to embody the trickster archetype and transmute the negative affect of anger into appropriate fierceness. The last Learning states: The creation and witnessing of an attachment story allows for the expression of unconscious internal representations of attachment patterns, putting one in relationship with aspects of the self that need nurturing, thus providing relief from unconscious defenses. The myth of The Abduction of Persephone, representing the reunion of the maternal dark side into the complex archetype of the Great Mother provides a context for the participant’s experiences. Interpretations revealed that bringing negative affects related to attachment failures to consciousness through shared meaning making and imaginal activities facilitates the integration of these affects, expands one’s capacity to recognize one’s maternal shadow, and lessens the possibility of unconscious enactment.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: Psychology > Critical Theory
Depositing User: Lois Davis
Date Deposited: 17 Jan 2017 21:49
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2017 21:49
URI: http://scholarship.meridianuniversity.edu/id/eprint/110

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item