Beyond Gender Development: Internal Resources Recognized

Haven, Debbra (2009) Beyond Gender Development: Internal Resources Recognized. Doctoral thesis, Meridian University.


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Carl Jung’s theory of contrasexuality is fundamental to this dissertation. This study’s Research Problem posed the question: What new images, experiences, and insights arise when women and men imagine and practice contrasexual gender performances and expressions that are outside of traditional gender roles? The research hypothesis stated that: Imagining and practicing contrasexual performances will encourage a beginning awareness of contrasexual aspects, gender projections, and a re-imagining of gender for the future. The literature reviewed addresses psychological, cultural, and sociological perspectives along with imaginal approaches to contrasexual resources and projection. It was found that the literature seems to inadequately address how gender imagery affects individuals. Evoking experience, expressing, interpreting, and integrating it, constitute the Four Phases in Imaginal Inquiry, the research methodology used for this study. Guided visualization, Authentic Movement, journal writing, and role-plays were imaginal approaches employed for recognizing internalized images. The primary experiences v evoked for participants consisted of gender imagery and contrasexuality, and the transcending or seeing beyond gender. The Cumulative Learning reveals that early, good-enough family support for developing both feminine and masculine capacities allows an individual to explore contrasexuality throughout their lifetime without severe and restrictive gatekeeping dynamics, and enables the individual to digest discrepancies between social expectations related to gender performance and the individual’s core identity. Embodying and visualizing cross-gender experience enhances empathy both toward others and the internal other and supports the withdrawal of projections and the increase in capacities. Four learnings emerged: First, childhood gender identity develops through selective identification with positive aspects of both genders and disidentification from limiting aspects, in an atmosphere of sufficient parental support, despite cultural expectations and stereotypes. Second, the expression and amplification of stereotypical gender roles evokes disgust, anger, sadness, and surprise for both genders and assists in disidentification, and withdrawal of projections. Third, the contrasexual performance and experience brings to awareness the limiting aspects of gender roles, leading either to further personal insight or increased rigidity resulting from defensive processes. Fourth, through gatekeeping dynamics, unfamiliar movement and stances are restricted as they threaten to dislodge familiar and gender adaptive patterns. In reflecting on these learnings, the mythical characters of Narcissus, Persephone, and Demeter are drawn on to portray challenges and rewards inherent in the individuation process

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: Psychology > Critical Theory
Depositing User: Debbra Haven
Date Deposited: 06 Jan 2017 22:35
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2017 22:35

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