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Perspectives on Researcher Identity: An Exploration of the Personal, Interpersonal, & Transpersonal. Maureen Harrahy, Nadia Santiago, & Suzanne Adams Institute of Transpersonal Psychology January 2011. What is Transpersonal Psychology?.

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perspectives on researcher identity an exploration of the personal interpersonal transpersonal
Perspectives on Researcher Identity:An Exploration of the Personal, Interpersonal, & Transpersonal

Maureen Harrahy, Nadia Santiago, &

Suzanne Adams

Institute of Transpersonal Psychology

January 2011

what is transpersonal psychology
What is Transpersonal Psychology?
  • Beyond or through (trans) the individual (personal) - Walsh & Vaughan, 1993
  • Commonly concerned with personal growth and human transformation but extending to consider a human being’s beyond ego potentials
  • Three themes: beyond (individual) ego; from the perspective of a whole person in an interconnected world; that may have transformative potentials
from this expanded perspective of human potential
From this expanded perspective of human potential:
  • Validates “the meaningful nature of human experience [while] affirming that this is not merely an impediment to objective knowledge but a way of knowing oneself, the world, and the mystery of existence from the standpoint of an embodied participant rather than as a disinterested observer” (Hartelius, Caplan, & Rardin, 2007, p. 142).
anderson braud anderson 1998 writes
Anderson (Braud & Anderson, 1998) writes:
  • “Transpersonal psychology seeks to honor human experience in its fullest and most transformative expressions” (p. xxi, intro). For the researcher, this means “to incorporate, advocate, and verify the full and expansive measure of any human experience studied, however it presents itself to awareness” (p. xxvi, intro)
anderson cont
Anderson (cont.):
  • “We need an imaginative, even outlandish science to envision the potential of human experience and awareness, not just more tidy reports” (p. xxvi, intro)
  • breaking the rules of rigid empirical science
  • infusing our investigations with the values that matter to us
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Utilize creative modalities

Contain rich descriptions of personal experiences

Use of Reflexivity

Potential for transformation of self/others

Potential for self-transcendence

Evokes/Encourages a sense of social responsibility

Use of self-reflection

Acknowledgement of both individual and cultural aspects of human experience

Potential for Integration

Honors human experience

Values alternative states of consciousness

Acknowledges the researcher’s connection to the researched

Values emotion “as they occur in participants, researchers, and readers” (Braud & Anderson, 1998, p. 219)

Aesthetic feeling as validation

Ontologically pluralistic; diversity in human exp.

Values participants as bearers of knowledge

Ability to adopt multiple perspectives

Recognizes and embraces subjectivity as a valuable way of knowing

methods of transpersonal research

Methods of Transpersonal Research

Organic Inquiry: a collaborative method utilizing the personal experiences of the researcher & co-participants in order to create a sacred project that transforms & heals all involved (Clements, Ettling, Jenett, & Shields, 1998).

√5 Characteristics: Sacred, Personal, Chthonic, Relational, Transformative

√Connected Methodologies: Feminist, Heuristc

Integral Inquiry: a research approach combining complementary methods of inquiry to address the multifarious nature of research questions and the various ways of knowing (Braud, 1998).

√covering the continuum of qualitative & quantitative research

√costum-made approach, answering questions of a transpersonal nature

Intuitive Inquiry: methodology incorporating intuition, compassion, instant grasp of meaning, & assistance to underserved/under-recognized individuals/communities (Anderson, 1998)

√Transforms research from cold and scientific into a connection-driven, human interaction; the process is self-reflective, introspective, & demanding

√5 Cycles of Research: Claimed by topic, Preliminary lenses, Data collection, New lenses & transformation, Revisit Lit Rev & discuss implications

common threads research from personal lived experience
Common Threads: Research from Personal Lived Experience
  • Transpersonal Perspective
  • Self-identification as a member of participant population
  • Transformative Potentials
    • Researchers, Participants, Audience
researcher identity

Researcher Identity:

Interpersonal and Transpersonal Perspectives in an Inquiry into the Intersubjective Impact of a Traumatic Event

philosophical and psychological perspectives of the researcher
Philosophical and Psychological Perspectives of the Researcher:
  • Assumption that life is participatory
  • Being human is interactive, relational, and interdependent
  • Based in evolving Western psychologies of relationship and interpersonal development
proposition
Proposition:
  • Occurrences and events in life do not just happen to an individual, but are inherently a group phenomenon.
  • All experiences, no matter how apparently private, have a relational component.
inquiry the interpersonal impact of a traumatic event

Inquiry: The Interpersonal Impact of a Traumatic Event

Method: Elaborative or Emergent Fit approach to Grounded Theory

traumatic event defined as
Traumatic Event Defined As:
  • An event that disrupts or shatters individual’s assumptive worlds (Auerbach, Salick, & Fine, 2006; Janoff-Bulman, 1992)
  • Or disrupts/shatters the ways in which one has come to count on being in the world.
traumatic event in question

Traumatic Event In Question:

Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment

point of elaboration
Point of Elaboration:
  • The aspect of human experiencing that involves groups of people having an interpersonal experience.
participants
Participants:
  • Conducted semi-structured interviews with 24 participants
  • 18 participants formed 4 groups consisting of one cancer survivor and 3-4 support people
  • 3 cancer survivors and one support person participated on an individual basis only
  • 1 cancer survivor/spouse participated as a couple
interviews
Interviews:
  • All participants took part in semi-structured interviews.
  • Those who participated as a group also took part in a group interview with their personal, small group.
method
Method:
  • Grounded Theory
  • Emergent Fit or Elaborative Approach
  • Emphasizing use of sensitizing concepts - concepts derived from prior reading of the literature and personal experience that inform the research process (Charmaz, 2006)
benefits
Benefits:
  • Openly using sensitizing concepts as data points for reference has 2 benefits:
  • 1. If the concept does not fit with interview data collected, then information selects out of theory building.
  • 2. Rather than creating an isolated theory, elaborative approach potentially builds a bridge with similar theories.
researcher relationship to the research

Researcher Relationship to the Research:

Role Personal Experience

Insider Perspective Benefits

Ethics

interpersonal dimensions of the research

Interpersonal Dimensions of the Research

Transpersonal Dimensions of the Research

interplay research researcher
Interplay research/researcher:
  • Intention to embody principles outlined
  • Valuing subjectivity
  • Participatory approach
  • Personal experience disclosed to participants
  • Common field of experience
  • Personal experience as point of reference
  • Researcher’s sensitivities
brief overview of autoethnography
Brief Overview of Autoethnography
  • Autoethnography is a research method that locates the researcher within the culture being studied.
  • Ethnography that incorporates one’s personal experiences.
  • Autoethnography provides a way to explore and understand the researcher’s experience within the context of the topic under study.
defining transition
Defining “Transition”
  • Bridges (2001) makes a distinction between transition and change.
  • Change is a “situational shift” (p. 2)
  • “Transition is the process of letting go of the way things used to be and then taking hold of the way they subsequently become” (p. 2).
family emergence
Family Emergence
  • Discovery and disclosure
  • Turmoil
  • Negotiation
  • Finding balance
population
Population
  • My immediate family
  • A five-member biethnic family, largely located in Lawrence, Massachusetts
  • Phase: Proposal/Data Collection
what i am learning
What I am learning
  • It keeps occurring to me that there are so many things I don’t know.
  • There’s a difference between coming out and being outed.
  • No two people have the exact same experience.
queer transpersonal sexual experiences
Queer Transpersonal Sexual Experiences
  • Intuitive Inquiry approach
  • Examining altered states of consciousness (ASCs) & transcendence during sexual acts
  • Participants (N=12-16)
    • Individuals who have reportedly experienced transpersonal sex
    • Individuals who self-identify as:
      • queer in sexual orientation (ie: lesbian, gay, bisexual, or any variation thereof)
        • AND
      • queer in gender orientation (ie: gender queer, gender non-conformists, androgynous, third gender, etc)

State of Current Research

√Completing data collection & beginning data analysis

√Findings pending

what does it mean for the researcher to situate herself in the study
What does it mean for the researcher to situate herself in the study?
  • Personal passion: underserved & under recognized part of population; sex research
  • Furthers desire for transformation, societal awareness, advocacy
  • Intuitive Inquiry:
    • Personal experience as a point of reference, means of analysis, emotional resonance
    • Cycles 2 & 4: Preliminary & Revised lenses
    • Cycle 5: Revisiting Lit Review w/ C4 lenses to determine implications of research
    • Influences researcher identification, understanding the uniqueness of identities, & meaning making of personal experiences
how do i relate to my participants
How do I relate to my participants?

Multi-layered resonance

    • Researcher self-identification & participant identifications
      • identification with minority population
    • Transpersonal phenomena
    • Varying sexual experiences
    • Relationship styles
    • Influences of phenomena on personal life & beliefs
  • Affecting disclosure: researcher & participants
  • Effects of participation: interpersonal connectivity, establishment of community, de-stigmatizing transpersonal experiences
  • Results as affected by researcher-participant connection
how does subjectivity affect my research
How does subjectivity affect my research?
  • Disclosure: Affecting research received
    • Identity
    • Exposure to experience, literature, other participant narratives
  • Intuitive Inquiry: Affecting analysis
    • use of compassion, resonance, lenses as tools
  • Autobiographical Nature: Affecting research analysis
    • Personal experiences affecting lenses through which researcher analyzes participant experiences
conclusion
CONCLUSION
  • “We know a thing only by uniting with it; by assimilating it; by an interpenetration of it and ourselves…Wisdom is the fruit of communion; ignorance the inevitable portion of those who ‘keep themselves to themselves,’ and stand apart, judging, analyzing the things which they have never truly known” (Underhill, 1915, p.4).
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References

Anderson, R. (1998). Intuitive inquiry: A transpersonal approach. In W. Braud & R. Anderson (Eds.). Transpersonal research methods for the social sciences: Honoring human experience (pp. 69-94). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Anderson, R. (2004). Intuitive inquiry: An epistemology of the heart for scientific inquiry. The Humanistic Psychologist, 23(4), 307-341.

Auerbach, C. F., Salick, E., & Fine, J. (2006). Using grounded theory to develop treatment strategies for multicontextual trauma. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 37(4), 367-373.

Assagioli, R. (1993). Transpersonal development: The dimension beyond psychosynthesis. London, UK: Aquarian/Thorsons.

Braud, W. (2006). Educating the 'more' in holistic transpersonal higher education: A 30+ year perspective on the approach of the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 38(2), 133-158.

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Braud, W., & Anderson, R. (1998). Transpersonal research methods for the social sciences. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Bridges, W. (2001). The way of transition: Embracing life’s most difficult moments. New York: NY: Perseus Books Group.

Chang, H. (2008). Autoethnography as method. Walnut Creek, CA: Thousand Oaks.

Charmaz, K. (2006). Constructing grounded theory: A practical guide through qualitative analysis. Los Angeles: Sage.

Clements, J., Ettling, D., Jenett, D., & Shields, L. (1998). Organic inquiry: Feminine spirituality meets transpersonal research. In W. Braud & R. Anderson (Eds.). Transpersonal research methods for the social sciences: Honoring human experience (pp.114-127). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

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Ellingson, L., L., & Ellis, C. (2008). Autoethnography as a constructionist project. In J. A. Holstein & J. F. Gulbrium (Eds.), Handbook of Constructionist (pp. 445-465). New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Ellis, C. (2007). Telling secrets, revealing lives: Relational ethics in research with intimate others. Qualitative Inquiry, 13(1), pp. 3-29.

Ferrer, J. N. (2002). Revisioning transpersonal theory: A participatory vision of human spirituality. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Hartelius, G., Caplan, M., & Rardin, M. A. (2007). Transpersonal psychology: Defining the past, divining the future. The Humanistic Psychologist, 35(2), 1-26.

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Holman Jones, S. (2007). Autoethnography: Making the personal political. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln, Collecting and Interpreting Qualitative Materials (pp. 205-245). Los Angeles, CA: Sage.

Janoff-Bulman, R. (1992). Shattered assumptions: Toward a new psychology of trauma. New York: The Free Press.

Kidd, J., & Finlayson, M. (2009). When needs must: Interpreting autoethnographical stories. Qualitative Inquiry, 15(6), pp. 980-995.

Lev, A., I. (2004). Transgender emergence: Therapeutic guidelines for working with gender-variant people and their families. Binghamton, NY: Haworth Clinical Practice Press.

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Poulous. (2010). Spirited accidents: An autoethnography of possibility. Qualitative Inquiry, 16(1), pp. 49-56.

Richardson, L., & St. Pierre, E., A. (2007). Writing: A method of inquiry. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln, Collecting and Interpreting Qualitative Materials (pp. 473-499). Los Angeles, CA: Sage.

Underhill, E. (1915). Practical mysticism. New York: E.P. Dutton.

Viramontes, A. (2008). Toward transcendence: A creative process of performative writing. Critical Methodologies, 8(3), pp. 337-352.

Walsh, R., & Vaughan, F. (1993). On transpersonal definitions. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 25(2), 199-207.