Tracking The Wild Woman: A Process in Individuation, by Dr. Stacey Shelby
- AuthorStacey Shelby
- Date 19 December 2014
Defending my dissertation in Oct. 2014.
Tracking the Wild Woman Archetype: A Process in Individuation
by Stacey Shelby
This alchemical hermeneutic study describes, interprets, and relates to the “wild woman” archetype. It examines the experience of how a woman may choose to express her sexuality and possible relationship(s) as she integrates this archetype. Clarissa Pinkola Estés (1972) brought the wild woman out of shadow in Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype. Estés describes this archetype as nothing less than “the innate instinctual Self” (p. 6), and the personification of “the natural instinctive psyche” (p. 4). This study examines women’s psychological development at midlife in relation to Jung’s notion of individuation. By midlife, a woman may have become conscious of some of the ways culture has over-domesticated her and she may have become aware of her own wild instinctual animal nature. This study is based on the premise that many women are socialized in a way that leads them to be overly “civilized” or overly “domesticated,” almost from birth, and that this affects how they express their sexuality and have relationships. When women become conscious of the wild woman, then they are free to explore sexuality and relationship(s) on their own terms. Paradoxically, the struggles experienced in relationship and sexuality may be the catalysts that bring a woman into deeper engagement with psyche and into the realm of the wild woman.
The structure of this dissertation is designed to present a redefinition of the wild woman archetype that focuses on articulating a synthesis of women’s psychological and sexual development and exploring relationship(s) as the alchemical vessel of women’s psychological transformation. This research finds that the paradoxes and impossibilities of love may serve to create a more profound woman who is more conscious of the manifold world of unconscious archetypes. It tracks the process of women’s individuation and alchemical transformation through the study of texts, the researcher’s lived experience, and imaginal ways of knowing such as dreams, synchronicities, and active imaginations. It makes use of the lenses of both depth psychological and social constructionist theories.