Self and well-being: A qualitative approach with focus on the Mahabharata

Kuchibhotla, Lakshmi (2015) Self and well-being: A qualitative approach with focus on the Mahabharata. Doctoral thesis, NIAS.

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Thesis advisorMenon, SangeethaUNSPECIFIED
Abstract: The self is the fundamental basis of all human experience which influences personal identity. It gives the individual personality its unique and dynamic character and is the subjective nucleus of the personality which represents the inner world of the individual. Traditionally, in psychology, self has been studied with respect to distinct aspects such as self-esteem, self-concept, self-image, self-regard, self-efficacy, self-complexity, and other self-domains. In the Indian conception however, self moves beyond the bounded notion of specific domains and is regarded holistically. It is the lived experience as well as the transcendental goal. Well-being too is concerned with the larger-than-immediate aspects and with the potential for furtherance of one’s physical, mental, and transcendental planes. Drawing from the traditions of Indian thought, Indian Psychology is a sphere that is contributing immensely to the universal and mainstream discipline of psychology, gaining deep ground in the understanding of human nature, self, growth and possibilities. Cornelissen, et al. consider 'Indian' as indicative of the origin of an approach to psychology − “the origin of the underlying philosophy, the conceptual framework, the methods of enquiry, and the technology of consciousness that it uses to bring about psychological change and transformation” (Cornelissen, et al., 2014, p. 1). Several foundational texts such as the Upaniṣad-s, the Bhagavad-Gītā, the epics of the Rāmāyaṇ a and the Mahābhārata, the Yoga sūtras, and many philosophical treatises, are vast resources to understand the nature of self. The works contain deep phenomenological content − experiential narratives and contexts, dialogues of philosophical and psychological character – and which upon close and intense reading reveal the propensities, proclivities, and potentiality inherent in us, offering us ways of 'becoming' and 'being'. The texts offer alternative lenses of study, focussing more deeply on the core and essence of the human being. The present research aimed to study and understand the psychological and experiential facets of self, well-being, through the themes of desire, conflict, and grief in the Mahābhārata. The theoretical framework is drawn both from the Mahābhārata and, to a limited extent, from Carl Rogers’ Person-Centred approach. In this research the Mahābhārata is not being viewed as merely literature but as a body of knowledge with its myriad contexts and lived experiences as significant for study and relevant for the domain of Indian Psychology. Although empirical studies and their results are established means of knowing and understanding human behaviour, in the present research, qualitative approaches have been used in the belief that such approaches offer deeper insights in the inquiry of the self. It is hoped that by utilizing alternative methodologies, the discipline will attempt to add new dimensions and extend the boundaries of the entire field of study. The focus is on the thriving potential of humans rather than on the negative disease model which mostly underlines prevention and cure of pathology. Mental health takes a new turn in meaning with emphasis being placed on the positive and growth nature of the human composite. The thrust is on well-being, and the sustenance of strengths and virtues. The different conceptions of self along with their perspectives for well-being make an impact in the counselling setting by affording many insights into human nature and contexts. It is not merely the ‘data’ one gathers about the other person but the deeper self-understanding one achieves by thinking in relation to the other. As expressed by Edwards (2003), psychotherapy often turns to metaphors and myths to grasp and communicate that which elude verbal definitions. Edwards also emphasizes that depicted characters in narratives portray positive sides of the unconscious, and function as a source of creativity, understanding and healing power. Thus, an experiential and dialogical process is imminent in understanding the nature of self, its ramifications and expositions. The Mahābhārata, inherently phenomenological in nature, is itself used to understand the narratives, and the descriptions of the characters and their behaviours. It also accentuates interpretations afforded by the meaning, purpose, and action of the characters, as well as in understanding the self through the other. The phenomenological approach grasps the experiences without theoretical preconceptions, the intention being to clarify and understand what is at hand. The lived experience is the essential aspect.
Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: The thesis was submitted to the Department of Psychology, University of Mysore, Mysore. [Year of Award 2015] [Thesis No. Th26]
Subjects: School of Humanities > Psychology
Divisions: Schools > Humanities
Date Deposited: 03 May 2016 10:48
Last Modified: 07 Jul 2017 07:33
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    Funders: UNSPECIFIED
    Projects: UNSPECIFIED
    URI: http://eprints.nias.res.in/id/eprint/1068

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