Jeannette Gagan is a licensed psychologist, registered nurse, author, and educator. Raised in a Catholic family, the relationship between spirituality and emotionality has been of great interest to her since childhood. Exposure to more liberal points of view during her undergraduate years kindled new spiritual and psychological perspectives that she—gradually, over time—integrated into her professional work.
After acquiring a bachelor’s degree in nursing, Jeannette worked both with cancer patients and in the field of public health nursing. She married and raised five children, taking a long hiatus before returning to complete a master’s degree in mental health nursing and a doctorate in counseling psychology. During this training she was introduced to Ericksonian hypnosis, the contemporary approach to altered states of consciousness. Fascination with this topic triggered study of how such trance states occur historically and cross-culturally. This was when her love affair with the shamanic experience began. Jeannette’s intellectual and intuitive curiosity stood her in good stead when a personal crisis catapulted her into intense shamanic experiences. Through solitude and her willingness to respond to the call of the unknown, Jeannette connected with nature and its healing power. When her theoretical mind woke up and took stock of what had transpired, she undertook apprenticeship with Twylah Nitsch, a Seneca Elder, and also trained with The Foundation for Shamanic Studies. In 1998 she self-published Journeying: Where Shamanism and Psychology Meet. Described as a powerful and important read, Larry Dossey, M.D. put it this way “… a landmark application of shamanic wisdom. Anyone interested in the future of psychology should read this book.” Journeying most definitely addresses the relationship between one’s emotions and one’s spiritual life.
But that wasn’t enough. She viewed what was historically and theoretically put forth in Journeying as just the beginning. Because a central theme of the book is how the shamanic use of altered states of consciousness (via the technique of journeying) can contribute to the healing of developmental wounds, Jeannette wanted to more extensively explore the relationship between the ego and early-life wounds. Consequently, in recent years she’s devoted herself to studying ego-growth research while authoring her second book, Grow Up Your Ego: Ten Scientifically Validated Stages to Emotional and Spiritual Maturity. Not only are the behavioral sciences providing sound evidence for the existence of the ego but brain imaging techniques are also validating the role of emotion and its relationship to developmental patterns. Science is showing, in fact, that our brains are hardwired to generate positive emotions that eventually transmute into altruistic and spiritual actions. Recently GROW UP YOUR EGO was the WINNER in the self-help category of the 2015 Eric Hoffer Book Award book Contest.
What was a conundrum and cause of distress in childhood is now the source of Jeannette’s zeal. Completion of Grow Up Your Ego provides the platform from which she communicates the richness and power of behavioral research: the mature ego not only processes emotion in the healthiest of ways, it also supplies the bridge to our innate spirituality. Whether through the book itself, website information, media interviews and so forth, Jeannette will continue to educate those willing to read, listen, and learn—the ego is indeed real; research scientifically validates ten stages of ego growth; no matter our age or situation our egos can grow up; when the ego matures emotionally, spiritual growth is it natural accompaniment.