Student Services Overview

DATE: Thursday, June 12, 2014
TIME: 12:30 p.m
PLACE: Studio, Lambert Road campus
CANDIDATE: Victoria Shackelford
DISSERTATION TITLE: "Mary’s Mandala Story: Images of Chaos in Mandala Psychology"
CHAIR: Dr. Lionel Corbett
READER: Dr. Holly Fincher
EXTERNAL READER: Dr. Carolyn Bates

Shackelford, V. (2014). Mary’s Mandala Story: Images of Chaos in Mandala Psychology (Doctoral dissertation, Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2014)


This depth psychological study explores the possibility that the drawing and subsequent recognition of chaotic looking irregular and misshapen shapes, lines, and marks applied in a lopsided and unbalanced manner within and protruding outside a mandala circle represent the beginning of a psychological development in the patient’s psyche. Such a shift in the psyche may set the stage for using mandala psychology to facilitate the psychotherapeutic work of gathering and containing additional destructive and shadowy psychological material.

A retrospective single case study design is combined with a heuristic approach to discover the effects of producing an asymmetrical mandala design, as described above, while following the chaotic mandala images through a change in the plot line of the research/participant’s psychological story. Information is collected and outlined for the depth psychotherapy community that describes the process of mandala psychology from this vantage point of unbalanced and chaotic mandalas, illustrating the mandala’s usefulness as a container for psychological and emotional chaos. The change in the plot line of the subject’s mandala story is compared to and amplified with the structure of the plot line of the prototypical fairytale narrative at the moment when the darkly woven female character of the witch enters the narrative. This mythological component is introduced to enrich the telling of this case study. The archetypal analysis hypothesizes that at the moment the research/subject engaged her chaotic mandalas, the shift she experienced represented the collective and empowering primal energy of the dark energies of the feminine, personified for this study as the witch.

Key words include: asymmetrical, mandala, chaos, case study, witch, art therapy, creative, container, chaotic images, shadow, destructive psychological material, dark feminine, fairy tale.


Please note: All oral defense attendees must shuttle to the Lambert Road campus from the Best Western Hotel in Carpinteria. Parking on campus is not available.