The Terrain of the Self and the Other: A Phenomenological Study of Animals as Cartographic Teachers and Healers

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Goulden, Debra Lynn
Hultgren, Francine H.
ABSTRACT Title of Dissertation: THE TERRAIN OF THE SELF AND THE OTHER: A PHENOMENOLOGICAL STUDY OF ANIMALS AS CARTOGRAPHIC TEACHERS AND HEALERS Debra L. Goulden, Doctor of Philosophy, 2004 Dissertation directed by: Dr. Francine H. Hultgren, Professor Department of Education Policy and Leadership Using the metaphor of a journey, the phenomenon of companion animal caregiving is opened for appraisal. Companion animals are revealed as metaphoric cartographers or mapmakers, creators of guides of caring. Through these guides, we are called to care through the task of exploration of the inner terrain of the Self as well as the intimate terrain of the Other. Hermeneutic phenomenology as the mode of inquiry for this study uses the framework of six methodological guidelines described by van Manen (1990). The voices of six nurse educators provide narratives of the lived experiences of being-with a companion animal. These narratives are generated through the use of various texts for examination: conversations, art or photographs, and written life stories. Developed from narratives, significant themes of companion animals are identified. These themes are viewed as the lived language of soul, a felt connection to the Other, an ontological communion or attunement that reveals mystery, spirit, and an enhanced awareness. This experience of soul in its essence reveals the terrain of the Self and the Other. These themes of soul become known through the lived existentials of spatiality, corporeality, temporality, and relationality (van Manen, 1990). These intertwined themes are manifested as animal love, generated through deep connections or soul-mates; senses of animal soul by which intimate terrains are revealed through touch, vision, and hearing thereby offering an authentic knowing by the heart of a companion animal; animal courage, the terrain in which we are tended and mended through presence and compassion; and animal havens, a felt terrain of homecoming. Companion animal caring with the soul is sustained as insights from the conversations are examined in view of current pedagogical practices within the arena of nurse education. Lastly, the journey concludes with the invitation to dwell in a pedagogy of companionship, a pedagogy emulated by companion animals in which we are gathered into this newly created sacred place of being-with the Other, an authentic place in the circle of life.