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Perspectives on Researcher Identity: An Exploration of the Personal, Interpersonal, & Transpersonal Maureen Harrahy, Nadia Santiago, & Suzanne Adams Institute.

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Presentation on theme: "Perspectives on Researcher Identity: An Exploration of the Personal, Interpersonal, & Transpersonal Maureen Harrahy, Nadia Santiago, & Suzanne Adams Institute."— Presentation transcript:

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

2 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

3 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).

4 APPROACHING RESEARCH FROM A TRANSPERSONAL PERSPECTIVE “Outlandish Science”

5 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)

6 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

7 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

8 Methods of Transpersonal Research 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 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 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

9 Common Threads: Research from Personal Lived Experience Transpersonal Perspective Self-identification as a member of participant population Transformative Potentials Researchers, Participants, Audience

10 Researcher Identity: Interpersonal and Transpersonal Perspectives in an Inquiry into the Intersubjective Impact of a Traumatic Event

11 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

12 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.

13 Inquiry: The Interpersonal Impact of a Traumatic Event Method: Elaborative or Emergent Fit approach to Grounded Theory

14 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.

15 Traumatic Event In Question: Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment

16 Point of Elaboration: The aspect of human experiencing that involves groups of people having an interpersonal experience.

17 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

18 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.

19 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)

20 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.

21 Researcher Relationship to the Research: Role Personal Experience Insider Perspective Benefits Ethics

22 Interpersonal Dimensions of the Research Transpersonal Dimensions of the Research

23 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

24 THE FAMILY EXPERIENCE OF THE TRANSGENDER TRANSITION An Autoethnographic Exploration of By Nadia Santiago

25 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.

26

27 The Call to Research

28 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).

29 Family Emergence Discovery and disclosure Turmoil Negotiation Finding balance

30 My Family’s Emergence

31 Population My immediate family A five-member biethnic family, largely located in Lawrence, Massachusetts Phase: Proposal/Data Collection

32 Why I Feel Compelled to Undertake this Investigation

33 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.

34 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

35 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

36 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

37 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

38 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).

39 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 ). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Anderson, R. (2004). Intuitive inquiry: An epistemology of the heart for scientific inquiry. The Humanistic Psychologist, 23(4), 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), 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),

40 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 ). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

41 Ellingson, L., L., & Ellis, C. (2008). Autoethnography as a constructionist project. In J. A. Holstein & J. F. Gulbrium (Eds.), Handbook of Constructionist (pp ). New York, NY: Guilford Press. Ellis, C. (2007). Telling secrets, revealing lives: Relational ethics in research with intimate others. Qualitative Inquiry, 13(1), pp 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.

42 Holman Jones, S. (2007). Autoethnography: Making the personal political. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln, Collecting and Interpreting Qualitative Materials (pp ). 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 Lev, A., I. (2004). Transgender emergence: Therapeutic guidelines for working with gender-variant people and their families. Binghamton, NY: Haworth Clinical Practice Press.

43 Poulous. (2010). Spirited accidents: An autoethnography of possibility. Qualitative Inquiry, 16(1), pp 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 ). 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 Walsh, R., & Vaughan, F. (1993). On transpersonal definitions. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 25(2),


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