Thesis Title

The Eye as Symbol

Graduation Date

Fall 1998

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Document Form


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

Degree Granting Institution

Notre Dame de Namur University

Program Name

Art Therapy


This paper is an attempt to help art therapists and other clinicians better understand client drawings of eyes. The author perceived a deficit in figure drawing test manuals regarding material on eye drawings, and so turned to other sources in an attempt to broaden the scope of existent material written especially for those interested in drawing tests. Source material reviewed included writings on prehistoric art, mythology, work by psychodynamic theorists, anthropologists, neurobiologists, and others.

It was discovered that historically, the eye has symbolized highly positive things, such as consciousness, insight, and the presence of a benevolent force that nurtures life, and can be likened to a mandala which contains opposites. It can also signify the presence of paranoia, envy, and an unseen negative force.

Material on the evil eye appears to validate the hypothesized connection between phallicism and looking, written about by early psychoanalytic thinkers. Clinical implications and suggestions for further research are also discussed.