Process Work Contributions to Men and Power

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Process Work Contributions to Men and Power


Stephen Schuitevoerder

B.Com, B.A (Hons.) Psychology, Graduate Dipl. Education,

Dipl. Process Work, M.A. (Clin. Psych.)

A thesis submitted in completion of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

Department of Social Ecology

University of Western Sydney-Hawkesbury

November, 2000

Certificate of Originality

This thesis is entirely original research which has not been submitted for credit towards any other degree at this or any other educational institution.

Stephen Schuitevoerder


This thesis is a collaborative effort that has come from my encounters with so many people: friends, colleagues, clients and mentors. To all of you I am grateful. John Cameron, my supervisor at the University of Western Sydney, has been a firm and inspiring figure who has guided me through this thesis from beginning to end--through doubts, times when nothing was happening (which was more than once!), and to its final completion. John has believed in this thesis when I felt it would never happen. Thank you John for all of your help, for your integrity, steadfastness and care. Arnold Mindell is a central figure both in my life and this thesis. He is the inspiration for this work, a guide and a model of sensitivity, depth, care and wisdom, which is rare to find and wonderful to have contact with. I deeply appreciate his contribution both to my life and this work. Thank you Arny. There are so many others who have deeply shaped who I am and have found their way through my life into the pages of this thesis. My brothers, Neil and Michael Schuitevoerder, who walked the path of my family and of South Africa, and left to forge new homes in the United States and England. The discussion and debates we have had on who we are and what it means to be a man. So many male friends: David Bedrick for our all night discussions and deep explorations of being men; Maurie Shaw for his friendship and his teachings on living between life and death; Adam Zwig for his love and passion for life; Doug Hales and David Crittendon for their connection and embodiment of men working, loving and living together. And so many others. I am also grateful to the clients who have shared the depth of their experience and given me so much insight into men, their relationships and power. I have learned so much from the men’s groups I have facilitated and been a part of, and the Process Work community and Worldwork groups who have courageously explored and created a container for us to learn and grow together. I am grateful to the Worldwork group I discuss in this thesis for their courage and openness to allow me to study and present their work. Finally, thank you to Gabrielle Hoffman for the incredible care in her comments and editing of this thesis.

I offer this thesis to my father and my ancestors who have come before me. It is you who appear on these pages through the forming of generations of life, love and experience. Thank you for your offerings. And with open hands and deep appreciation for who they are, I offer this work to my sons Darryl and Rowan and all who come after me--in building, developing and refining what is means to be a man, through the exploration and contributions of their own lives and work.


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 men’s 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 we have in 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.

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