Archetypal Creativity and Healing: An Empirical Study of Floral Design (Ikebana)
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The theory of embodied cognition focuses on mechanisms of meaning beyond the traditional in western metaphysics dichotomy of body and mind. These mechanisms are considered to be the emerging aspects of meaning related to early infant experience of interaction with the environment. Image schema as the earliest form of representation in the mind corresponds to the notion of archetype from analytical psychology. Theory and research suggest that being in touch with the archetypal level of cognition is related to integration of parts of the personality and promotes well-being. Art and creativity are considered to facilitate this process and in this sense to promote healing. Active imagination is a method devised by C. G. Jung to relate to different aspects of the personality through creativity which results in a creative product. Active imagination bears similarity to art, however it focuses not only on the aesthetic outcome of the creative endeavor but also on the transformation of the personality in this process. Analytical psychology studies a number of creative expressions of the products of active imagination such as sand play, drawing, clay modeling, writing, dancing and psychodrama. However, there are no available empirical studies of the healing aspects of creative work with cut flowers. We hypothesized that being involved in creative work with cut flowers would promote well -being expressed in increase of hope, existential/spiritual meaning and humility and decrease of depression, anxiety and physiological symptoms. The participants in our study were undergraduate students from Texas A&M University either involved in a semester long course in Floral Design or in an Introductory Psychology Course. Participants were assessed at two time points on all variables of interest. They were also asked to draw mandalas and to write essays (floral condition). Although quantitative analysis did not find any significant differences between the groups over time as a result of the creative work with cut flowers, the qualitative analysis of the mandala-drawings and the essays showed statistically significant tendency to balance, centeredness and calmness over time in the floral group.
Sotirova-Kohli, Milena D. (2009). Archetypal Creativity and Healing: An Empirical Study of Floral Design (Ikebana). Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from