Genelle Benker, PsyD, is a 2020 graduate of the PsyD Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, Seattle.

Dissertation Committee

Jude Bergkamp, PsyD, Committee Chair

John Christopher, PhD, Committee Member

Maxim Livshetz, PsyD, Committee Member


Psychology, Philosophy, Yoga, Politics, Pedagogy, Cultural Appropriation, Hermeneutic Literature Analysis, Professors, Graduate Students, Psychologists, and Psychotherapists

Document Type


Publication Date



Psychology in the United States (U.S.) is partially constituted by a cultural history of intellectual imperialism that undermines its altruistic intent and prevents disciplinary reflexivity. The scholarship and clinical application of Yoga exemplifies the way U.S. psychology continues to give lived authority to imperialism as part of the neoliberal agenda. Through a hermeneutic literature analysis of two source Yogic texts and peer-reviewed articles that exemplify the dominant discourse on Yoga in U.S. psychology, this dissertation identified themes that describe culturally embedded presentations of Yoga and their sociopolitical implications. Through interpretation, Yoga was conceptualized as: (a) a 5,000 year-old tradition that prescribes a life path to achieving one’s full potential and includes (but is not limited to) an expression of psychology unique to Yoga that encompasses a complex moral framework, theory of mind, conceptualization of suffering and illness, and rich collection of healing technologies; (b) a phenomenological state of being, or unwavering realization of the self as undifferentiated unified consciousness; and (c) an artifact of U.S. psychology that enacts dissociated, unformulated, and unarticulated sociopolitical arrangements and events. Themes were presented as dialogue, allowing Yogic theory, philosophy, psychology, and morality to call into question facets of U.S. psychology as they relate to the human condition, psyche, mental illness, and healing technologies. Within the scope of the dissertation, there were four articulated pathways for Yoga to influence U.S. psychology without reverting back to the unconscious inclination to dissociate or appropriate: (a) participate in the tradition of Yoga rather than trying to possess it; (b) acknowledge what the moral framework of Yoga highlights about the complicity of U.S. psychology in the neoliberal agenda; (c) discontinue practices that normalize and sustain intellectual imperialism; and (d) commit to disciplinary refinement and integrity. Also addressed were the limitations of this project and fruitful avenues of further inquiry, including possible steps towards disciplinary refinement and integrity.


Genelle Benker, Psy.D., 2020

ORCID Scholar ID #0000-0001-9961-0287