“Transformational Healing: A Phenomenological Examination of the Practice of Sacred Intimacy as Taught by the Body Electric School”
Transformational Healing: A Phenomenological Examination of the Practice of Sacred Intimacy as Taught by the Body Electric School
Researcher and Purpose
Andrés Cordero, Jr. is submitting this dissertation in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of doctor of philosophy, Human Sexuality, California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco, CA
Study, Aim, Background
When it comes to health and wellness, some gay men can experience considerable, extended challenges in managing psychological, psychiatric, and related mental health issues.
Although traditional clinical approaches can be beneficial, some men may seek more non-traditional, integrated approaches to address these issues. This integration includes support for mind, body, and spirit. While I acknowledge that some traditional clinical approaches may integrate some of the practices raised in this dissertation, gay men may seek to find support outside of a clinical context, either to supplement their existing treatment, or as an alternative to more traditional options.
Beginning in the mid-1990s and emerging parallel to the introduction of the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) pandemic, a man by the name of Joseph Kramer created a school and began researching and integrating body-based, or somaticpractices into workshops and programs that offered individuals the ability to provide erotic and sensual touch through the use of barriers to prevent the exchange of fluids, which was essential for the safety of practitioners from being exposed to communicable diseases, including AIDS (Kramer, J., ND). From these activities and workshops, Kramer observed that some men who became trained in the practice were able to be present to others in an embodied and spiritual state of consciousness that supported those receiving these practices to more fully benefit from these interactions. Kramer took these observations and created advanced programs to train and support individuals who he eventually identified as sacred intimates. (Kramer, J., ND)
In this introductory chapter, I begin by providing a section explaining the significance of conducting research on the phenomenon of sacred intimacy. I offer a purpose statement, describing why I feel this phenomenon should be examined and researched for the benefit of others. I introduce the research questions used for this study, as well as the theoretical framework used to examine this phenomenon. I then provide definitions to terms that are necessary for understanding this research. I continue by declaring my assumptions and biases, to help you understand my lens and my positionality in conducting this study. I further provide delimitations and limitations to this study, and conclude by offering an explanation of the significance of this study.
Significance of Research
In this dissertation, I provide an introductory understanding to the study. I identify the study’s population focus, the type of study conducted, the type of data that was collected, and the primary reasoning for conducing this study.
Population focus for this study
The purpose of this dissertation project is to identify, describe, and demonstrate elements and aspects of sacred intimacy as experienced by practitioners of sacred intimacy as taught to practitioners trained through the Body Electric School, and their clients who identify as gay men in the United States.
Type of Study
To conduct this study I chose Hermeneutic Phenomenology grounded in Gadamer’s philosophy. Gadamer’s version of Hermeneutic phenomenology methodology allows me to illuminate rich descriptions and personal meanings of lived experiences related to those participating in sacred intimacy. As opposed to Husserl, Heidegger’s hermeneutic phenomenology philosophically approaches the exploration of sacred intimacy in a way that most effectively informs my objectives for this exploration. I chose Gadamer’s approach as he recognized that a researcher’s preconceived knowledge is practically required to establish a foundation in examining a phenomenon. Thus, I am able to include my own preconceived knowledge along with the contributions of participants to evolve a more comprehensive or collective understanding of the practice.
Type of data gathered
For this study, I collected lived experience qualitative data of the phenomenon from both practitioners and clients. The data was gathered using a variety of methods, including preliminary overviews and demographic data collection, foundational unstructured interviews, and follow-up semi-structured interviews. I additionally used video entries and field notes journal entries to capture my process of synthesizing data and incorporating my own evolving observations, beliefs, and biases throughout the process. This method of continuous evaluation and synthesis of a researcher’s observations is a fundamental construct and process in the Gadamerian hermeneutic phenomenological methodology.
Availability and Duration of Study
The study was initiated in the Spring of 2020, and the expected completion of the study is by the end of 2023.
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