Thesis Title

Preferred Symbol, Archetypal Stages, and Life Satisfaction of the Spritiual Woman at Midlife

Graduation Date

Fall 1992

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 pilot study utilized a qualitative approach to explore family of origin attitudes, archetypal symbols, visual constructs, modalities of creativity, spiritual life, and life satisfaction of 20 women from Judeo-Christian backgrounds, ages 36 to 55, who by study and practice followed a mystical spiritual path.

The purpose of the study was to establish a baseline by which to understand the spiritual woman at midlife in terms of signposts along the way of spiritual development and the process of individuation. The study was Jungian-based and used the following projective instruments: the archetypal stages of the great round (Kellogg, 1978); the Mandala Assessment Research Institute Card Test (Kellogg, 1980); the Arrington Visual Preference Test (Arrington 1986, 1991), and the Life Satisfaction Index-Z (Neugarten, Havighurst, & Tobin, (1961). In addition, participants created personal mandalas.

The participants were of a nonpathological population, as they were not institutionalized and were engaged in productive pursuits both socially and professionally. Findings indicated that family of origin religious background affected the subjects' choices to follow a mystical path as a result of early exposure to religious training. The findings of the study indicated that the women preferred feminine and spiritual visual constructs.

Archetypal stages were developmentally appropriate, with transpersonal stages well represented in the mandalas.

The women presented an interest in creativity and expressed it in their lives in a variety of modalities. Ninety-five percent of the women reported that they strongly agreed that their spiritual practices and beliefs had contributed highly to meeting the challenges and transitions in their lives. The women studied presented positive mood and sense of self/ life satisfaction data indicated that 75% fell within the range of 1 degree of the mean, 60% on the positive continuum and 40% below the mean on the less satisfied continuum. It was recommended that further research be conducted using a larger sample with a broader base.