Open Journal of Medical Psychology
Vol.04 No.04(2015), Article ID:60131,12 pages

Individuation and the Feminine Soul: Study of Feminine Archetypal Images Carried out on Surgical Patients

Suzana de Albuquerque Paiva1*, Carmen Silvia Passos Lima2, Joel Sales Giglio1

1Department of Medical Psychology and Psychiatry, Faculty of Medical Sciences, State University of Campinas, UNICAMP, Campinas, Brazil

2Department of Internal Medicine, Oncology, Faculty of Medical Sciences, State University of Campinas, UNICAMP, Campinas, Brazil

Email: *,,

Copyright © 2015 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution International License (CC BY).

Received 18 June 2015; accepted 25 September 2015; published 30 September 2015


This article is the result of a research carried out in a private hospital of Belo Horizonte, Brazil. The patient care model of the Mastology Department includes an interdisciplinary staff that aims for the comprehensive treatment of these surgical patients. The research is based on clinical approach, under the framework of Analytical Psychology. Feminine archetypal images are symbolically represented by the Main Goddesses of the Olympus. It is natural for one of these expressions to prevail throughout a woman’s life, or even in specific moments of her life, but it is important to recognize that all of them are part of the feminine soul. We can, therefore, define and understand the Goddesses from Greek Mythology symbolically as being representative of the various feminine psychogenic forces that are projected. In reality, they are internal images that can be used to help know and understand personal issues and changes that are necessary in a woman’s life, enabling personal growth and the possibility to identify herself with the more authentic elements of her being. In this work experience, the feminine force showed itself to be a force of creation, of expression and of overcoming.


Mastology, Hospital, Analytical Psychology, Individuation, Feminine Archetypal Images, Mythology

“Myths Are Expressions of an Original Reality That Is More Powerful and More Important and Which Governs Mankind’s Present Life, Destiny and Activities.”


1. Introduction

This article is the result of a research carried out in a private hospital of Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil. The patient care model of the Mastology and Plastic Surgery Department includes an interdisciplinary staff that, above all, aims for the comprehensive treatment of these patients.

Through the psychological follow-up work that is carried out with the surgical patients, we are able to observe, during the hospital stay and throughout the surgical process, that the psychogenic development resulting from specific experiences are constant and necessary demands, which are experienced as a psychogenic urgency. One can also notice how a woman’s psychogenic health often depends on the possibility she has of expressing the different sides of her personality, which contains the archetypal feminine images.

According to Jung [1] , “the concept of archetype indicates the existence of certain forms in the psyche that are always present everywhere”. The author also states, “the mythological research calls them the ‘reasons’ or ‘themes’”; in the psychology of the primitive populations they correspond to Levy-Bruhl’s concept of représentations collectives and in the religious sphere they were defined as ‘categories of the imagination’ by Hubert and Mauss. Long before this, Adolf Bastian appropriately designated them as ‘elementary’ or ‘primordial thoughts’, from the Greek where arché means ‘archaic, primordial’ and typos means ‘types, marks’. According to Plato, the idea preexists and is super-ordinate to the phenomena in general”. Thus, “the archetype is nothing more than an expression that already existed in Ancient times and a synonym of ‘idea’ in the Platonic sense” [1] .

We know that the representation of “archetype, literally a preexistent form, is not a concept exclusive to Jung. It is also recognized in other scientific fields.

Feminine archetypal images are symbolically represented in Greek Mythology by the Main Goddesses of the Olympus: Hera, Demeter, Persephone, Athena, Aphrodite, Artemis and Hestia.

It is natural for one of these expressions to prevail throughout a woman’s life, or even in specific moments of her life, but it is important to recognize that all of them are part of the feminine universe and, therefore, a woman can express herself though each one of them.

The Greeks say that the Gods are created in the image and likeness of men. For over three thousand years, feminine images in the form of the Goddesses of the Olympus have remained alive in the human imagination. They must be very important because, up until now, they have not been forgotten. Each one of them represents an archetype, that is, an instinctive behavior standard that is part of the collective unconscious.

Myths are expressions of these archetypes. Joseph Campbell [2] states that myths are powerful guides for spiritual life, helping harmonize our minds. For mankind, they are metaphors with a spiritual potential. “They show the world a dimension of mystery and show us how to live a human life under any conditions, pointing out new possibilities and what could be. They introduce ideas of immortality and of the destination of the body; issues related to birth and death. From the very first rituals, one can see elaborated attempts of explaining all of what cannot be explained through reason” [2] .

For the mythologist Eliade [3] , “the myth offers models for human behavior and, because of that, it attributes meaning and value to existence”.

According to Goethe, myths are life’s permanent relationships. For Junito Brandão [4] , “the myth expresses the world and human reality, but its existence is effectively a collective representation that reaches us through several generations. And, when trying to explain the world and men, that is, the complexity of reality, the myth cannot be logical: on the contrary, it is illogical and irrational. A window is opened to all winds; exposing us to all interpretations”. He also states that the myth could possibly be defined within the concept of Carl Gustav Jung, as “an awareness of the archetypes of the collective unconscious, that is, a link between the collective conscious and unconscious, as well as the manners through which the unconscious manifests itself” [4] .

Myths provide us with new ideas and creative possibilities. As with the ritual, the myth connects us with our deepest unconscious thoughts. Myths represent the collective dreams of the different populations. Oftentimes, we use myths to broaden our awareness since it is a potential tool for insights.

We can, therefore, define and understand the Goddesses from Greek Mythology symbolically as being representative of the various feminine psychogenic forces that are projected.

In reality, they are internal images that can be used to help know and understand personal issues and changes that are necessary in a woman’s life, enabling personal growth and for them to identify themselves with the more authentic elements of their being. This movement in search for growth and expression is part of the Individuation Process that happens throughout an entire life. Jung states that “Individuation is the process of ‘becoming oneself’ (Verselbstung) or ‘acknowledging oneself’ (Selbstverwirklichung)” [5] .

In addition to being influenced by the archetypes, these powerful internal forces to which they are subjected and which can be personified by the Greek Goddesses, women are also influenced by external forces, such as the roles that society enforces on them and that men expect from them. They reinforce some aspects and repress others. Therefore, they often find themselves confused by these two forces: the internal and external world.

When these internal archetypal patterns, as well as the cultural configurations, manifest themselves, they are responsible for the differences in behavior, in the ideals and quests among women. For example, some women need monogamy, marriage or children to feel fulfilled; they fight to achieve this goal, and become sad if they fail.

There are women, however, who are markedly different. They are another type of women, who value independence and their goal is to attain benchmarks that are important to them, or even, there are women who search for an emotional intensity in new relationships. Others, on the other hand, seek solitude and value their spiritual development. What is the most important to one woman may not be to another. But, regardless of manifesting a more specific nature, in reality, many Goddesses abide in each woman. According to Bolen [6] , the complexity of the woman increases as the quantity of Goddesses increases.

Historically, the female gender has always been associated with life, creation and expression. Ever since the beginning of times and in the most ancient Holy Scriptures, the female being has been represented as such. A woman was already present, creating, generating, participating... since the beginning of times ... she was called Sophia, which meant wisdom

This is how it is written in the Book of Proverbs [Proverbs, 8] [7] :

“The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth: Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.”

Another example that reinforces this idea is the “Trimorphic Protennoia (primal thought process formed in three ways: thought, intelligence, vision)” [8] :

I am Protennoia, the Thought that dwells in the Light. She who exists before the All... I move in every creature... I am the Invisible One within the All”. I am the real Voice. I cry out in everyone and they recognize it (the voice), since a seed indwells them.” I am the Voice. It is I who speak within every creature” “I am Mother (and) I am Father... I am the Womb that gives shape to the All...”. I am... the glory of the Mother.

In one of the holy scriptures of India, the Rig-Veda, one can find the Devi (Goddess) Sukta, a hymn that ends in the following manner [9] :

“... 7. On the world’s summit I bring forth the Father (heaven) (creation, Earth). My home is in the waters, in the ocean. Thence I extend o’er all existing creatures, and touch even yonder heaven with my forehead. 8. I breathe a strong breath like the wind and tempest, the while I hold together all existence. Beyond this wide earth (below) and beyond the heavens I have become so mighty in my grandeur.”

Once again, one can see the beginning of creation and the expression of creativity as an expansion in the form of feminine elements.

In the old legend about the Goddess Devi, the Great Mother, which can be found in the Holy Book Chandi [10] , that despite all its allegory, is still told to this day by many generation of Indians, we find the great importance of the woman as a Mother, creator and all mighty.

The legend says that, “When the Gods were resting, tired after waging war with the Demons, the king of the demons, Mahishasura, who had an evil nature, took advantage of the situation to gather an army and declare himself Lord of the Heavens and Governor of the Universe”.

This blasphemy reached Vishnu, enraging him. He then sent a terrible light, which emanated from his forehead. Shiva was also enraged; descending from his intense state of meditation and sending a powerful and incandescent beam of light in the same direction as Vishnu. Brahma, Indra and other powerful Gods, did the same, each sending penetrating beams of light.

All of the beams sent by the Gods united in a single location and slowly the luminous concentration took the form of a woman.

Shiva’s light formed her face, Yama’s her hair and Vishnu’s her arms. From Chandra’s light, the God of the Moon, her breasts were formed. Indra modeled her waist and Varuna her thighs. The Earth gave her her hips and Brahma her feet. The light from the God of Fire, Agni, sculpted her three eyes. Thus, all of the Gods contributed with their power for the auspicious manifestation of Devi, “the Great Mother Goddess” [11] .

And the story continues, stating that all Immortals worshipped her with pride and offered her jewels and weapons. Each one offering her one of their weapons or jewels. And she was the one who faced and scared away the Demon battalions. And all Gods chanted: “Victory to the Mother” [11] .

There are pre-historical references of cults worshiping God as a Mother. In cultures of the Stone Age the Goddess represented the beginning of creation and the power over life and death.

There was a time in which, in the religious systems, the mother was the main forefather, considered as the very source. Western civilization originated in the great valleys of the Nile, Tigris - Euphrates, Indus and Ganges. And that was the Goddesses’ world par excellence. In Egypt there is the Sky-Mother, the Goddess Nut who is represented as being the entire celestial sphere, also the goddess Isis, holding and breastfeeding her son Horus, considered the first Madonna. In Babylon, the mith of the Godess-Mother Tiamat was the first one to introduce a masculine orientation [2] .

Primordially, the female gender was associated with agriculture and farming societies, being heavily related to the earth. According to Campbell, the magic of the mother and the magic of the earth are one and the same. They relate to each other. The personification of the energy that generates the forms and feeds them is essentially female. In Mesopotamia, in Egypt and in Neolithic Europe, the Goddess is a dominant figure. The Goddess is the deity that is worshipped by many in India to this date. She is “Maya”; she is the mystery that is beyond the pair of opposites. Everything is contained within her; even the Gods are her sons. Everything is the product of the Goddesses [2] .

2. Discussion

Working clinically in a private practice and in the hospital with surgical patients, encompassing from aesthetic plastic surgery to the mastectomy and the reconstruction of the breast, I have become involved with the feminine universe, associated with life and death, to loss and gain, happiness and suffering, fear and bravery, grievances, fragility and strength, and, above all, creativity.

The feminine soul is very rich, and within its sensibility it contains the urgency of expression. We can observe that even in the worst moments of their lives, such as the surgical intervention, women want to understand, express themselves, they want to transcend.

These expressions are strong, artistic, creative and beautiful manifestations, when used wisely. Otherwise, they may become dangerous and destructive and, since the archetype is bipolar, it presents itself in its positive aspect, but may also be negative.

The patients seem to want to find a new strength for life, but a life or a way of life with more quality and, especially, with a connotation of pleasure, help and donation. Quality of life is related to the possibility of being useful. They want to do something important that helps other people. They want to add something more to their lives. The feeling of a strong and concrete connection between them and the world becomes essential; maybe even a need to belong: belonging to the world, belonging to life.

The breast is an erogenous zone, an area of pleasure. It is also one of the aspects of a woman’s body that represents their femininity the most, just as much as being sensual, motherly, a nurturer and a provider. It is a source of energy and pleasure, a source of donation and realization.

For a woman, removing her breast is the same as removing her beauty, pleasure and the commitment that exists in the act of being a woman and a mother. It may represent the removal of her life, the extinction of her energy.

Psychologically, the desire to do something new, important, with pleasure, or something that may help other women represents a compensatory movement, or even a recovery action: recovery of the healthy, beautiful and useful feminine aspect that may be expressed in situations where she is helpful or even in an action of creative expression.

But, at the same time, it is not an easy moment. We may grow and transform ourselves through experiences related to pain or experiences related to love. And growing through painful experiences is certainly not easy.

In this moment of loss and pain, the contact with one of the feminine aspects that is related to strength, courage and action becomes necessary. The very archetypal warrior image. In Greek Mythology this strength is represented by the goddess Athena. The Goddess of wisdom and arts who represents the logical and confident woman, who is ruled by her head and not her heart. A warrior par excellence, a female being born from Zeus’s forehead, the father of the Gods. She represents strength, intelligence, logic and arts. She helped heroes in the difficult moments of their journeys, always enabling an intelligent strategy for their most serious problems. This is the strength that a woman needs now. More than ever, she needs to be a warrior, because, losing strength now would lead her to depression, to lose her essence, that is, her soul. And Athena is an example of wisdom. It is noteworthy that in Ancient times, the Amazons would sacrifice their left breast in order to handle their bow and arrow better. Such was the courage and strength of the warrior. Athena’s is the strength of the warrior, a strength that is used intelligently. It is necessary here in order for the woman to not become discouraged nor lose contact with the energies of pleasure and sensuality, and neither with the energy resulting from the expression of maternity. Without them, the woman will not be whole and will not completely feel feminine.

Symbolically, the goddesses Aphrodite and Demeter present the feminine qualities that represent sensuality, love and pleasure, and maternity.

Aphrodite, is the goddess of love and immortal beauty. She represents the lover, since she is an alchemical goddess who governs the joy of women for love and beauty, for sensuality and sexuality.

The importance of this and all other archetypes is essential, not only for women but for men as well, who are always relating to women. Understanding these strengths is important in order for them to become more powerful than the conscience, or even better, independent from the conscience. One of the dangers is, for example, embodying an archetype of desire and beauty and preservation without differentiating oneself from it, becoming a projection of others, that is, an attempt to be a projection of men, a simple vessel where one would lose one´s own identity, such as in the example of movie stars who personify the ‘beauty goddess’ or ‘sex symbol’. The archetype of the great mother dominating the conscience is equally dangerous. The archetype constellates and the woman identifies herself with it, being dominated by it and acting as the ‘great mother’ in several situations of her life, mothering everyone, or even, not allowing her children to grow.

How to react when faced with this aggression from destiny, which ends up taking part of the universe of beauty, desire and the appreciation of the men away?

What happens is that the woman pulls back, hides, is embarrassed by her own body, and consequently, her own being. She does not want to think about sexuality and pleasure any more. She denies her femininity. It is a moment of great depression. But, if she denies her own femininity, then who is she? “Nobody”, is the answer we often hear during our patient care in these moments of depression. And this will always be too much for a woman, something unacceptable. In this case, the importance of ‘being a mother’ is their saving grace. The statement that for their children they have to face, bear and transcend the situation is a common one. We count on the strength of the archetype of the great mother in this phase, which saves the situation and gives this woman a new breath of life. She needs to be a mother above all and this is when the great mother goddess Demeter comes in.

Demeter, the Great Mother, goddess of the seeds and the image of the maternal archetype, represents the feminine instinct of providing for the physical and spiritual sustainment of her children. Demeter means “earth mother” or “mother nature”. The following statement was commonly heard: “If the land does not produce, the gods will die”. Its history is connected to the mysteries of Eleusis. Being a mother boosts the will to fight for life, fight for the care and for more health.

Another feminine aspect present in these moments of intense struggle for patients is the powerful need for affection, attention and protection. Oftentimes difficult to express, and not always understandable: Persephone, Demeter’s daughter in mythology, symbolically expresses the feminine tendency for passivity and the need to please and be liked by others. In a moment of physical fragility and of dependence, this tendency becomes frightening. The patients look for explanations to understand the facts. The reality is too harsh.

This moment is followed by the need for a deeper connection with their inner-selves, with their spiritual side. This is the need for a specific strength, considered greater than their personal strength. It is an attempt to uncover new possibilities that will help them have faith and endure the surgery, the illness, the fragility and the confrontation with death.

They look for the expression and experience of the aspects of the goddess Hestia. She is considered in Ancient Greece as the protector of the land and the home, present in all homes and temples, as the fire in the center of the earth or even the fireplaces. Goddess of the earth, she incorporates the woman who is patient and firm, who finds comfort in solitude and inspires the feeling of wholeness and completeness. She brings with her an irradiating heat, the internal fire of spirituality.

The characteristics of the goddess Artemis are a part of the feminine universe. The Goddess of the hunt and the moon, and also the goddess of nature, protector of groves and forests. She personifies the independent female spirit, directed towards conquest. Now the desire appears to attempt a harmonious relationship with other people and also with nature. Physical nature and personal nature itself, with all its insufficiencies and imperfections. It is a moment of acceptance and of surrender, and above all, of a vision, of new possibilities. We could even say, of renovation. The woman now seeks greater contact with aspects of nature. She seeks a wide vision in order to relate to the universe and all that is universal. From this contact there arises a desire to no longer cling to small things. Value now resides in more significant, broader things such as nature, well-being and love.

This quest for amplitude can be summarized in this “Homeric Hymn” in honor of Artemis [4] :

“I sing of Artemis of the golden arrows, of the resounding step, chaste maiden, bold Hunter, sister of Apollo of the golden sword, who walks in the shadows of the woods and the imposing rocks, firing arrows in the heat of the hunt that make the air howl. The high mountain summits shake and the woods resound with the voice of the wild beasts she pursues. Earth and sea...”

We frequently observe the phases the patients experience in relation to their respective illness, phases devised by Kubler Ross [12] , in her studies and research with terminal patients. First, the phase of denial and isolation, when the patient is unable to face reality and says: No, it can’t be true! Then, anger emerges. “We read the world wrong and say that it deceives us”, a phrase from Tagore that illustrates the patient’s relation to her world. The bargaining phase follows, with promises of good behavior and pleas for pardon. Then comes depression, anchored in the feeling of loss and impotence, so as to finally reach the phase of acceptance and deal with grief.

Rooted in our experience in clinical work and research, we believe that after this last phase of acceptance, we can still work on the need expressed by the patients, that is of transformation and of transcendence. This is a fundamental moment in the Individuation Process, for we can observe the spiral movement towards a greater and clearer awareness.

It is the possibility of working these two phases that are beyond acceptance, which in some way encourages us in this work. To be able to therapeutically assist the possibility of re-structuring and rebirth together, aiming at a more meaningful life, irrespective of all past suffering.

3. Method and Methodological Resources

This research is based on clinical and hospital work. Psychological assistance is given from hospital admittance to discharge, and, whenever necessary, after discharge the therapeutic work continues in a private office. It uses Qualitative and Quantitative Methodology and for methodological resources, questionnaires as well as oral and video presentations on the Goddesses of Greek Mythology. The 44 patients of this research were aged between 23 and 59, but most of the patients were between 40 and 50 years old. They were indicated by their own doctors.

Appendix I: Questionnaire on Feminine Archetypal Images.

Appendix II: Questionnaire on the characteristics of the Goddesses of Olympus, adapted to feminine reality in Brazil.

Appendix III: Analysis of the Questionnaires. Table: 1. Pre-Operative Phase and 2. Post-Operative Phase.

4. Results

We observed the desire and urgency in fulfilling the feminine totality through the study and expression of these aspects of the goddesses. In the beginning, the presence of aspects of Demeter, the Great Mother, was clear and had been significant for a long time in the lives of these women/patients. But after all the surgical procedures and psychotherapeutic care, in a most vibrant form, arise characteristics of Athena, the great warrior and Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty, love and sensuality as well as, very markedly, aspects of the goddess Hestia, symbol of spirituality. The representation and desire of expression of these three archetypes predominantly emerge after the surgery and treatment.

The Reports of the “Feminine Archetypal Images” filled out after presentations on the theme, with slide shows and videos on the goddesses, (Appendix I: Feminine Archetypal Images), and the specific study of the personal characteristics associated with the spirit of each goddess (Appendix II: Characteristics of the Goddesses of Olympus adapted to the feminine reality of Brazil), with the scores in the Pre and Post-Surgical phases (Appendix III: Analysis of the Questionnaires), showed the quantitative and qualitative data of this study carried out on women who had undergone one or more breast surgeries, ranging from biopsies, mastectomies and breast reconstruction to even aesthetic surgery and who had received psychological care throughout the whole process.

In Appendix III: Analysis of the Questionnaires, it can be observed that Athena, who is in last place in the pre-operative phase, appears emphatically in second place in the questionnaire filled in by the patients, despite the evidence that points to her occupying first place in the individual and group psychotherapy sessions. In the individual questionnaire, Hestia surpasses Athena. Our question here is as follows: is spirituality a taboo in our society? And should it, therefore, remain in the “shadows”?

It is also noteworthy that Persephone is in last place in the post-operative and recovery phase. To need the care of others, the physical and emotional dependency: are they also taboo in our society, which values strength, independence and self-assertion?

These are some of the aspects that could be studied in more depth based on the results of this study.

However, an important component to balance the mind and soul of the feminine being is still missing, that is expressed, symbolically, in the figure of the goddess Hera, the wife of Zeus. For Zeus, the relationship with his wife did not strictly depend on a link from the heart or from the soul. What was important was to make an alliance basically with a view to consolidating the kingdom. The King and Queen, Masculine and Feminine represent harmony and power; a true Hierosgamós. For Hera, marriage was a way of attaining perfection, the fulfilling of a personality, the completion of being. They also represent traditional cultural roles.

Hera, goddess of marriage, symbolizes the woman who considers her tasks as a student, a professional or even as a mother, as secondary. Her greatest aim is to find harmony in marriage.

Thus, Hera represents the spiritual contact with the masculine, since she and Zeus combine together in the Hierosgamós, which represents sacred marriage, masculine and feminine in conjunction, the union that symbolizes the psychic totality.

Another cultural representation of this sacred union of masculine and feminine, in the external world, is to be found in the excavations carried out in Mohenjo-Dharo, in the Indus valley, dating approximately from 1500 BC. There was evidence of the cult to the god Shiva and to Shakti, even prior to the Aryan influence in the region:

“He who is Brahman is Adhya Shakti, Primordial Energy. When inactive, He is called, the Purusha; He is called Shakti, or Prakriti, when engaged in Creation, Preservation and Destruction. These are the two aspects of Reality: Purusha and Prakriti: He who is Purusha is also Prakriti. Both are the incorporation of Blessedness” [13] .

For Jung, this union of masculine and feminine should also be sought and accomplished at the level of the inner world, in the relation of the Anima and the Animus, within our psyche.

Therefore, it is fundamentally important for a woman’s psychic health that she tries to live in the plenitude of her being. That she seeks reality and the experience of a full life. These conclusions were observed and analyzed during our work with surgical patients, who we could follow throughout a very delicate and difficult period of their lives. At any given moment of the process, an extra strength emerged which led them forwards, in the sense of facing or overcoming difficulties, creating new forms of being in the world. In this work experience, the feminine force showed itself to be a force of creation, of expression and of overcoming.

Cite this paper

Suzana de AlbuquerquePaiva,Carmen Silvia PassosLima,Joel SalesGiglio, (2015) Individuation and the Feminine Soul: Study of Feminine Archetypal Images Carried out on Surgical Patients. Open Journal of Medical Psychology,04,99-110. doi: 10.4236/ojmp.2015.44010


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Appendix I: Questionnaire on Feminine Archetypal Images


The psychic health of women depends on the possibility of expressing themselves throughout the different aspects of their personality.

The archetypical images of the Feminine Soul are well represented, symbolically, by the main Goddesses of the Greek Olympus: Aphrodite, Hera, Athena, Demeter, Persephone, Artemis and Hestia.

It is natural that one of these expressions prevails, in the life of a woman. But what is important is not to forget that they are all a part of the feminine universe and it is through each one that a woman lives and is fulfilled. It is also through them that a woman relates to men.

HERA, the wife queen DEMETER, the great mother PERSEPHONE, the daughter APHRODITE, the sensual one ATHENA, the warrior ARTEMIS, the protector of nature HESTIA, the spiritual one

Fill in the table below in order of importance on a scale from 1 to 7, in accordance with your life experience and personal expression. The most developed aspect until now receives the maximum mark (number 7), and what was least developed receives the lowest mark (number 1).

à Refers to the pre-operative phase for surgical patients; à In terms of the recent past for the women who did not undergo surgery; à In terms of masculine perception of women arising from the experience of relation and observation in the recent past in the case of men.

On a scale from 1 to 10, how would you evaluate each one of these feminine images in terms of personal experiences in your life history? Mark the number corresponding to the development of the characteristics of each one according to your experiences. The greater the expression of a special characteristic, the higher the number.

à In the case of men: reply in terms of your past experience and of your perception in relation to the expressions of a woman.

Today, and for the future, which would be the ideal of the feminine soul, in terms of expressions of characteristics you would consider priorities for you, taking into account the desired transformations. Considering the number 7 as having a greater emphasis/importance; and number 1 as having the least emphasis/importance.

à Referring to the post-operative phase for surgical patients; à In terms of near future for the women who did not undergo surgery; à In terms of the ideal companion, in the case of men.

Thank you for your collaboration!

Appendix II: Questionnaire on the Characteristics of the Goddesses of Olympus, Adapted to the Feminine Reality in Brazil

If you have marriage as an ideal;

If you can bear difficult situations, forgive and remain married;

If you are like Amelia1, who was a true woman;

If you are Queen of the Household;

If you don’t like doing things alone, without your husband;

If being married makes you feel important;

Then you have the spirit of Hera.


If you are a Super Mother (of your children, husband, boyfriend, friends, of your own mother...);

If you suffer in paradise;

If you give up things because of your children;

If you give everything and ask for nothing in return (or receive nothing in return);

If you are overjoyed by the happiness and achievements of your children and suffer with their defeats;

If you find it difficult to be separated from your children, even for a short period;

Then you have the spirit of Demeter.


If you are sensual;

If you seek love and an affective relationship with interest and anxiety;

If you always seek what is beautiful;

If you feel attractive and like a conquest;

If you value and emphasize sexual energy;

If you like to be a lover;

Then you have the spirit of Aphrodite.


If you love nature;

If you like to be in the woods, in the waterfalls, in the open air;

If you are protective and careful about nature and your children;

If you are independent;

If you don’t hold marriage as a priority;

If you like conquests and competitive situations;

Then you have the spirit of Artemis.


If you are a devoted daughter;

If you are constantly worried about the well-being of your father and your mother;

If you are fond of and dependent on your family;

If you value and need the approval and affection of others;

If you do not like to be far from your parents;

If you have a feeling of helplessness when faced with possible dangers;

Then you have the spirit of Persephone.


If you value spirituality;

If you have Faith in God;

If you have a quest for something greater;

If you isolate yourself and remain thoughtful, meditative, contemplating what is beautiful and sublime;

If marriage is a not a priority in your life;

If you value human warmth, truth, goodness and charity among the moral values and feel that you are whole and strong;

Then you have the spirit of Hestia.


If you like to be independent;

If you like to be a warrior;

If you value wisdom and arts;

If you primarily use reason;

If you are confident and do not feel the need to get married;

If you value your work, your achievements, your personal and professional growth;

Then you have the spirit of Athena.

Appendix III: Analysis of the Questionnaires. Table: 1. Pre-Operative Phase and 2. Post- Operative

Results of a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the questionnaires were answered by 44 patients, in the Pre- and Post-Operative Phases. The patients were aged between 23 and 59, but most of the patients were between 40 and 50 years old.

The classification of each goddess represents the feminine aspects most developed at the time of the operation, in order of importance, of expression and valorization (1), and the new ranking indicated by the patients as an ideal of living, expression and necessary changes in the Post-Operative phase (2).


*Corresponding author.

1Translator´s note: Amelia is ‘the true woman’ from a popular Brazilian song and embodies submission, shows no vanity and is willing to go hungry beside her companion. Hera accepted her husband Zeus´ betrayals, quarreled with his lovers and remained married. She did everything to preserve her marriage which symbolizes Hierosgamós, or sacred marriage.