Recovering My Lost Hands: A Heuristic Self-Inquiry of Art Making and Dissociative Symptoms Related to PTSD

  • Author / Creator
    Jennifer Dawn Stewart
  • My research investigated the relationship between art therapy and dissociative symptoms related to PTSD based on my own experiences. I am a Nursing Officer in the Canadian Armed Forces. I deployed to Afghanistan in 2010/2011 and was subsequently diagnosed with PTSD related to my military service. I chose to study my own art making experiences to understand how they were influencing my recovery from PTSD. I collected the data for this heuristic arts-based research from my art work and personal journals. My images reflect the sober realities of war; however, they also capture the creative healing journey that I have taken to recover from PTSD. My art making experiences have led me to understand that dissociation is both a pathological and mystical experience. Images of hands or lack thereof are an important theme in my research and I used the story of The Handless Maiden to further elucidate this significance. Hands may be viewed as the seat of a woman’s soul or very Self; therefore, the symbolic loss of them is a great loss indeed. My research explored the reclamation of my lost hands and the discovery of my artist identity.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Psychotherapy and Spirituality (Art Therapy Specialization)
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Norbert Krumins
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Dr. Pamela Brett-MacLean
    • Dr. Shaun McNiff