Welcome

“Every woman has to learn where her true source of validation is.”
― From The Heroine’s Journey: Woman’s Quest for Wholeness

Welcome to my website, which is devoted to memoir writing and the heroine’s journey. My work explores the mysteries of the psyche, a fascination with mythology and a love of story telling and memoir writing. In 1990 I wrote the best selling book The Heroine’s Journey as a response to Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey. It was groundbreaking at the time and continues to inspire a new generation of women. A critical stage of The Heroine’s Journey addresses every woman’s yearning to create so my blog will explore memoir writing as a powerful creative expression of each person’s desire to understand their life and the lives of their loved ones. My blog will also explore the public policy issues relating to mental health, addiction and the criminal justice system as they affect our world today. I hope you will also visit my photography gallery Changing Woman: Contemporary Faces of the Goddess where I present portraits and interviews of women whose focus is feminine spirituality.

—Maureen Murdock

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Joan Halifax Photo by Maureen Murdock

Joan Halifax

Visit The Gallery: Changing Woman
View Maureen’s extraordinary portraits and interviews with women artists, dancers, activists, and writers whose focus is feminine spirituality.

 

 


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Upcoming Workshops

Art of Memoir: A Weekend Workshop by Maureen Murdock
Sat. – Sun., March 4 – 5, 2017 • 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM
UCLA, Los Angeles

UCLA Extension Writers ProgramThe essence of a great memoir is the writer’s voice and how he or she brings the reader into a scene with sensory details. Vivid characters, evocative settings, and pitch-perfect dialogue are essential for the reader to remain interested. In this two-day workshop, you learn the essentials of character development, dialogue, and structure through in-class writing exercises and excerpts of published memoirists such as Mary Karr, Abigail Thomas, and Myra Shapiro. You will also work to uncover your truth, develop insight into the larger themes of your story, and cast yourself as a compelling character.
Contact Phoebe Lim for registration at 310-825-9416.
>More information


Writing Down the Soul: A 9-Month Certificate in Memoir Writing
with Maureen Murdock, Jennifer Selig, and Daphne Dodson
Pacifica Graduate Institute, Santa Barbara

Residential Dates: March 30 – April 1, 2017 and Dec. 8 – 10, 2017
Optional Summer Residential Writing Retreat: August 28 – Sept. 1, 2017

memoir-cert-programA memoir is an exploration of a particular slice of a person’s life. In the act of writing it the author makes meaning. She wants to know who she was in the past, and who she is now telling the tales of her past. The vitality of the form comes in discovering what the present self knows that the past self could not have known. In doing so, the writer helps us reflect upon our own lives as well. Memoir is a depth inquiry, a form of writing down the soul.
Participants in this unique certificate program will spend eight months online with faculty facilitators Jennifer Selig and Daphne Dodson. Each month begins with an exploration of a distinct theme in memoir writing, and ends with the submission of several pages of writing for faculty and group feedback. The online portion of the program is bookended by two weekends with leading memoir teacher and writer Maureen Murdock.
>More information


iwwg-logoMemoir as Contemporary Myth
International Women’s Writing Guild:
Writing From Your Life Retreat
May 6, 2017, Boston Area

The popularity of memoirs today reflects the desire to find meaning in the mystery of our lives and to understand our unconscious choices, actions, and dreams. Memoirists are our contemporary myth makers. Myth can be seen as an ordering principle that gives coherence to the way our memories unfold, and the mythic themes of family relationships, quest for identity, love and betrayal, personal sacrifice, and death dominate contemporary memoir writing. In this workshop you will write a short memoir piece that explores a mythic theme.
>More information

Books by Maureen Murdock

Maureen Murdock’s books have enriched the lives of thousands of people and been translated into over a dozen languages.

The Heroine’s Journey contains a wealth of insight that is of great value to contemporary Western women. It explores a rich territory of the feminine psyche and opens an understanding of female development that relates not only to personal transformation but cultural transformation as well.”  
—Joan Halifax

“Combining personal experience and painstaking erudition, Maureen Murdock’s The Heroine’s Journey shares with us the essence of the female journey. A fine, warm, and insightful book.”
Carol Pearson, author of The Hero Within: Six Archetypes We Live By

Maureen’s groundbreaking book, The Heroine’s Journey: Woman’s Quest for Wholeness, published by Shambhala Publications in 1990, was written as a response to Joseph Campbell’s book on the hero’s journey. Maureen, who was a student of Campbell’s work, felt his model did not address the specific psycho-spiritual journey of contemporary women. She developed a model of the feminine journey based on her work with women in therapy and showed it to him in 1983. Campbell’s response was, “Women don’t need to make the journey. In the whole mythological journey, the woman is there. All she has to do is realize that she’s the place that people are trying to get to.” Knowing that women were indeed involved in their own deep psycho-spiritual journey, Maureen developed a model of the heroine’s journey which has become a template for novelists, screenwriters, and those who desire to understand the deep wounding of the feminine on both a personal and cultural level. Maureen received thousands of letters from women throughout the world, particularly from fathers’ daughters, relating to the wisdom in The Heroine’s Journey. It has been published in French, Spanish, German, Dutch, Serbo-Croatian, Italian and Farsi.

“Drawing on her background as a psychotherapist, she richly illuminates questions about memory and the self, the way emotions are embedded in metaphors, and the underlying myths of our stories. A pleasure to read.”
—Kimberly Snow, In Buddha’s Kitchen
 
Unreliable Truth is both a beautifully crafted book about memoir writing and a rich, honest memoir on its own.”
—Susan M. Tiberghien, Circling to the Center
Unreliable Truth: On Memoir and Memory is a captivating treatise on the corruptibility of memory that also provides tools for exploration of the self and soul through personal narrative.

It started as an essay about the similarities between myth and memoir but took on a more personal meaning as Maureen’s mother struggled with Alzheimer’s disease. Maureen began to look at the relationship of memory to identity as the loss of her mother’s memory affected her sense of herself. It also brokered a healing in the relationship between mother and daughter. As Maureen wrote, the book became more and more about the relationship with her mother and less and less about myth.

It is used in college writing courses throughout the country.


“An incisive, engrossing book…Murdock has beautifully illuminated an important aspect of many people’s lives.”
Los Angeles Times

“Groundbreaking and dynamic. …a moving exploration of the feminine journey from father’s daughter to peer.”
—Brenda Peterson, Nature and Other Mothers

One of the most profound relationships in a woman’s life is with her father. In childhood, she is often referred to as “Daddy’s little girl.” As cute as that may sound in childhood, there is often a dark side to that alliance. Such a “father’s daughter” pays a high price for her favored status. In order to sustain his approval, protection and love she often distances herself from her mother. Although she may be successful at work, she may have difficulties in intimate relationships and in the realms of sexuality, spirituality, and creativity. Father’s Daughters explores the shadow side of father love through myth, fairy tales, and Jungian psychology. It has been published in Korean, Chinese, Hebrew, Portuguese, and Spanish.

Through myth, fairy tale, case studies, and Jungian psychology, best-selling author Maureen Murdock explores the unique relationship between a “father’s daughter” and her father, its rewards and pitfalls, and how this idealized relationship affects the mother daughter bond. This rich and thoughtful analysis examines Beauty and the Beast, Donkeyskin, The Wizard of Oz, King Lear, and The Handless Maiden to empower the father’s daughter to untangle the ties that bind her to her father and redeem a female vision that is truly powerful and nurturing.


“This ‘map for every woman’s quest, with guided imagery, dreamwork, and creative exercises,’ a companion workbook to Murdock’s best-selling Heroine’s Journey, is an eye-opener. My first jolt came while addressing the author’s initial “Question for . . . Reflection,” which was, “Who are the heroines in your life . . .?” I could have reeled off a whole list of heroes, but even one heroine was a stretch. There’s message enough in that, yes? We’d better get working! And this workbook is a great tool, for individuals or for groups. Skillful prompting and multiple techniques guide readers through various stages of recognition, acceptance, healing, and integration of the feminine. Others’ experiences, myths, and fairy tales further combine with personal realizations to produce a much-needed antidote to an affliction of the spirit that haunts us more than we know.”
NAPRA ReView
This workbook is designed to guide the reader consciously through the different stages of the Heroine’s Journey. Based on workshops conducted by the author with women of all ages, it can be used individually or in a group. The reader will explore each stage of the journey and look at the myths and fairy tales that shed light on these archetypal experiences:

  • Separation from the Feminine, in which a woman searches for an identity in a masculine-defined culture
  • The Road of Trials, in which she challenges the myths of female inferiority, dependency, and romantic love
  • Spiritual Aridity, a feeling of having lost herself in her struggle for achievement
  • Initiation and Descent, a period of drawing inward and looking for the lost pieces of herself
  • Urgent yearning to reconnect with the Feminine and heal the Mother-Daughter Split
  • Integrating and healing the wounded parts of her inner Masculine
  • The Sacred Marriage, which occurs as she learns to integrate and balance all aspects of herself.

The chapters include questions for reflection as well as exercises in guided imagery, writing, art, and dreamwork to bring clarity and understanding to the quest. Finally, the skills learned on this archetypal journey prepare a woman to work toward the larger quest of bringing consciousness to others and preserving the balance of life on earth.


“Murdock’s work should be fundamental to education, not stuck in the ‘enrichment’ category. Our brain thinks in imagery; imagery is part and parcel of symbolic-metaphoric thinking, on which all higher intelligence is based. This book will surely be on my recommended list to parents, teachers, and everyone interested in development.”
—Joseph Chilton Pearce
Maureen Murdock’s first book, Spinning Inward: Using Guided Imagery with Children for Learning, Creativity and Relaxation came out of her own meditation practice and subsequent work with guided imagery in elementary, middle school, and high school classrooms. Spinning Inward, published by Shambhala Publications in 1987 has been published in Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch and German and is widely used along with the playing of Tibetan singing bowls to enhance concentration, relaxation, and creativity in German classrooms.

If you have ever wished you could show children and teenagers how to enrich their lives with meditation and visualization, this book will delight you. It presents simple exercises in guided imagery designed to help young people aged three through eighteen to:
• Relax into learning
• Focus attention and increase concentration
• Develop good listening skills
• Stimulate creativity
• Build a strong self-image
• Improve academic, artistic, and athletic skills
• Cultivate inner peace and group harmony

The use of guided imagery has been internationally recognized as an effective method of “whole brain” learning. The author’s approach will have special appeal to parents and teachers who are frustrated by an educational system that seems to reward only those children who excel at verbal, linear learning. With the exercises in this book, young people can discover the learning styles that are effective and enjoyable for them. These techniques of guided imagery offer adults as well as children a unique way to tap the wealth of creativity and wisdom within.


“Perfect to turn your Monday blues to pink.” — Goodreads
Published in 2002, Monday Morning Memoirs: Women in the Second Half of Life, is a dazzling collection of intimate stories written by ten remarkable women who first met in a creative writing class at UCLA in the mid-nineties and have continued to write together ever since. This wildly different, yet amazingly similar group of women, aged forty-five to eighty, have provided a unique view of the second half of life across several generations. They have crafted their memories with exceptional compassion, humor, insight, and attention to the cultural changes that have occurred in the last four decades. An introduction to each chapter describes the elements of memoir writing contained in each piece so that you can begin to write your life story too.

“A fresh look at mental illness written by a mother who loves her son. Family therapist, psychology professor, creative writing teacher — Murdock has it all but the key to unlock her son’s illness and set him free. What I love about this book and what made me want to keep on reading was the voice that told the story — a mother’s voice. I heard the yearning for answers, as well as the shame in acknowledging mental illness in the family. This is a book full of insight even as the reader feels the heartbreak.”
—Julie F. Maloney

“It provides guidance for those going through this first hand, and is an excellent source of information for family members and friends who what to learn more.”
—Rosemary McGlynn

Maureen’s newest book, The Emergence of Bipolar Disorder: A Mother’s Perspective, published as a Kindle Single in November, 2013, informs the reader about the early signs of bipolar disorder in an adolescent or young adult from a mother who has been through this journey with her son. The book describes what’s involved in a mental health crisis, the trauma of a first hospitalization and facts and figures about bipolar disorder, the fastest growing brain illness in children today. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, four million children and adolescents in America suffer from a serious mental disorder. Through early diagnosis and treatment these young people can live productive lives.

As a mother and a psychotherapist, it was difficult for Maureen to find adequate resources when her son was first diagnosed so she offers tools to navigate these turbulent waters. Included are suggestions about Mental Health First Aid, personal recommendations for links to TED Talks by two young people talking about living with bipolar disorder and community resources a family can access for support before, during, and after a mental health crisis. Like the award-winning movie “Silver Linings Playbook,” The Emergence of Bipolar Disorder: A Mother’s Perspective gives the reader a glimpse into the challenges a family experiences when a child is struck with a mood disorder.