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Dissertation Abstracts

Pierre Morin, Stephen Schuitevoerder, Ingrid Schuitevoerder

Rank and Salutogenesis:
A Quantitative and Empirical Study of Self-Rated Health and Perceived  Social Status

Pierre Morin, M.D. Union Institute and University for his Ph.D. in Health Psychology March 2002

This study consisted of a quantitative survey of the relationship between self-rated health, subjective rank, Antonovsky’s sense of coherence and objective measures of social status. For the measure of subjective rank Mindell’s multidimensional concept of rank was used, which includes social dimensions as well as non-materially based elements of community integration and self-esteem. Subjective rank relies on the individual’s own perception of his or her social standing in the various areas of social comparison. A questionnaire was developed that operationalizes the concept of rank into this new measure of subjective rank. Subjective rank was then compared to objective measures of socioeconomic status (SES), Antonovsky’s sense of coherence (SOC), and self-rated physical health. The study sample reflected 133 U.S. and 59 Swiss participants of Lava Rock Seminars which address psychological and physical needs related to chronic illness. The author hypothesized that the measure of subjective rank would be more sensitive in predicting health than SOC and objective SES. Findings showed that subjective rank was significantly related to self-rated health among both groups. It explained 31% of the variance in self-reported health among the U.S. sample. In a multiple regression analysis of the U.S. sample, SOC and objective SES became non-significant predictors once subjective rank was entered. The range of social status of participants in both samples was restricted, which limits the conclusions about the relative association of subjective and objective social status with health. Nevertheless, these results are consistent with the assumption that perceived rank dominates the effect on self-reported health. They suggest that low perceived rank is linked to greater stress by either increasing stress directly or increasing the vulnerability to the effect of stress. These results demonstrate that rank has a considerable impact on subjective health. This study positions Mindell’s concepts of rank within a larger academic discourse of power and privilege. Further, by integrating newer concepts based on Antonovsky’s ‘Salutogenesis’ and Mindell’s ideas on rank, this study contributes to a change of our attitude toward illness and deviance.

Process-oriented Dialogue: An Inquiry into Group Work and Conflict Facilitation

Ingrid Schuitevoerder, University of Western Sydney for her Ph.D. in Social Ecology

The thesis looks at helpful techniques and tools in bringing parties to dialogue on contentious issues, especially in stand-off situations. It details how to apply these in actual case studies and highlights useful facilitator skills and metaskills in facilitating worldwork groups and open dialogue forums.

Process Work Contributions to Men and Power

Stephen Schuitevoerder, University of Western Sydney-Hawkesbury for his Ph.D. in Psychology 2000

In this thesis I investigate the process work contributions to men and power. I research the theories of men and power and demonstrate how Process Work and its applications including the concept of rank are useful adjuncts to the existing theories of power. I present an analysis of the mens’ movements and explore how process work provides a contribution to this field of study and creates a bridge whereby apparently different theories become compatible.

My methods include an in depth analysis of a group process, a personal study of my own experience of being a man, my professional experience as a psychologist in personal therapy and facilitating men’s groups, interviews with the founder of Process Work Dr. Arnold Mindell, and my experience of attending and at times facilitating many Worldwork group processes. Thus, my inquiry includes heuristic, qualitative and subjective methods.

My investigation recognizes that men are a diverse group. Any evaluation of the power men have needs to explore the individual experience of the particular man in question and the range of his social, psychological and spiritual ranking. Recognizing the rank we have is important if we are to use it well. Those who have rank frequently are not conscious of this rank, nor are they conscious of the way it is used. Those who suffer from the poor use of rank often can provide valuable information about the effects of this poor use of rank. It is challenging to listen to the feedback of the marginalized voices who are hurt and often angry due to poor use of rank. And yet these voices are often a call to awakening, a call to those who have rank to use it well. A call to men to also become conscious of the personal costs to themselves of the misuse of rank and the cost of projecting marginalized parts of themselves onto the “other.” Finally the call to awakening comes back to those who are marginalized. It becomes a call to awakening to their own beauty and power, embracing the effective use of the rank they do have and recognizing that they frequently have more awareness of power than those who hold more social rank. They are invited to the table of elders who can use this awareness and wisdom to lead the community into a vision of a world where rank is used with wisdom and awareness.

Power by itself is limited. At moments such as when we are close to death power becomes less relevant. A deeper vision emerges related to the greater meaning of our lives and the legacy of our deaths. It’s the vision that motivates elders such as the Dalai Lama, Mahatma Ghandi and Nelson Mandela. It is a vision for all of us to use the rank we have to further the deepest values and aspirations of our own lives, to the benefit of all living beings.