Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Department of Psychology - Faculty of Health & Behavioural Sciences


Stories make good psychology; they can explain without being prescriptive. Hero and quest narratives are explored and re-evaluated for what they can offer women's psychology. Jungian archetypal theory, and in particular the archetypes of the Masculine, the Feminine and the Self, provide the theoretical framework. The interwoven themes of narratives, archetypal forms and the persistence of gender requirements are addressed both in the content and the method. The content consists of exploration of narratives - myths and stories in which the theme of journey and quest is pivotal. Traditional male heroes, Jason and Oedipus, warrior women, the lovers Psyche and Eros, mother and daughter Demeter and Persephone and the quintessential hero figure of Christ are discussed in relation to women's psychology. The grand, mythic themes are supplemented with modem literary and popular variations. Distinctions are drawn between "true" (psychologically convincing) and "false" (unconvincing) story-lines. The stories are used to show that the quest narrative is relevant to both women and men, once expanded beyond the formulaic plots of the young male hero braving physical trials. The method, or style, of the thesis is largely determined by the content; it relies on metaphor, especially as traditional narrative plot and characterisation, to demonstrate, as well as argue for, a narrative approach to psychology. It is assumed that the concept of gender is ubiquitous in Western society, and that gender differences have a profound impact on psychological experiences. However gender is understood to be neither immutable nor entirely oppositional (between women and men). My aim is to highlight ways women's psychological issues can be explored and described without having to be prescribed. The thesis demonstrates some ways in which psychological experiences can be acknowledged, validated, even explained, without being explained away.

02Chapter1.pdf (1989 kB)
03Chapter2.pdf (1737 kB)
04Chapter3.pdf (1727 kB)
05Chapter4.pdf (1824 kB)
06Chapter5.pdf (1339 kB)
07Chapter6.pdf (2298 kB)
08Chapter7.pdf (1072 kB)
09References.pdf (625 kB)
10Appendices.pdf (233 kB)