Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 2007


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Clinical Psychology


McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Michael Sipiora

Committee Member

Leswin Laubscher

Committee Member

Paul Richer


culture, psychology, tobacco


This theoretical dissertation explores tobacco use from the perspectives of social constructivism and phenomenological depth psychology. In Part I, tobacco use is described as a cultural artifact, and transformations in tobacco use are traced through three different cultural contexts or "worlds": the indigenous or aboriginal worldview, the European and American worldview of the 17th through mid-19th centuries, and the modern American worldview (or "modernity"). In each of these worldviews, the cultural context informed and influenced (or reflected and reproduced) understandings of tobacco use. One notices the transformation of tobacco use, for example, from a god to a commodity and from a panacea to a pandemic. In modern American culture, tobacco use, through cigarette smoking, now stands out as a leading cause of preventable death. While most psychological schools of thought advance explanations and therapies for tobacco use based on their respective guiding assumptions, the author proposes that tobacco use is not a disease to be treated or cured, but is a symptom of the cultural frame of technology. Accordingly, in Part II, tobacco use is interpreted as a cultural-psychological symptom.

As a cultural-psychological symptom, tobacco use both reveals and conceals the cultural psyche, and shows that when things of the world are reduced to commodities, our relatedness changes. The type of relatedness in the technological context becomes addiction, and the consequence of this relatedness is death. Yet, within the technological context of the modern world is the possibility of a different framework, one of poiesis. The movement towards the cultivation of poiesis, through psychological reflection, is discussed.