Clarissa Pinkola Estés

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Clarissa Pinkola Estés
Born (1945-01-27) January 27, 1945 (age 69)
Indiana, United States
Occupation Psychoanalyst, poet, post-trauma specialist, author
Genre Depth Psychology, Archetypal Psychology, Analytical Psychology, Traditional medicine, Ethnic Studies, Mythology, Women's Studies, Diversity, Post-traumatic stress disorder, Poetry

Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Ph.D. (born January 27, 1945) is an American poet, post-trauma specialist and Jungian psychoanalyst.


Similar to William Carlos Williams and other poets who also worked in the health or other professions in tandem, Estés is a poet who uses her poems throughout her psychoanalytic books, spokenword audios, and stage performances as expressive therapy for others. She is also a post-trauma recovery specialist and psychoanalyst who has practiced clinically for 44 years. Her doctorate, from the Union Institute & University, is in ethno-clinical psychology, the study of social and psychological patterns of cultural and tribal groups. She often speaks as "distinguished visiting scholar" and "diversity scholar" at universities, most recently to young engineers at Colorado School of Mines. She is the author of many books on the life of the soul, and her work is published in 32 languages, most recently Persian, Turkish, Han Chinese, and Serbian. Her book Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of The Wild Woman Archetype was on the New York Times Best Seller list for 145 weeks.

As a post-trauma specialist, Estés began her work in the 1960s at Edward Hines Jr. Veterans Hospital in Hines, Illinois. There she worked with WWI, WWII, Korean and Vietnam War soldiers who were living with quadraplegia, incapacitated by loss of, either/or, both arms and legs. She has worked at other facilities caring for severely injured "cast-away" children, "shell-shocked" war veterans (now called Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and their families. Her teaching of writing in prisons began in the early 1970s at the Men's Penitentiary in Colorado; the Federal Women's Prison at Dublin, California, and in other "locked institutions" throughout the southwestern United States.

Estés ministers in the fields of childbearing loss, surviving families of murder victims, as well as critical incident work. She served at natural disaster sites, developing post-trauma recovery protocol for earthquake survivors in Armenia. Since then, her Post-Trauma Protocol is used to deputize citizen helpers to do post-trauma work on site at many disasters, and for the months and years yet to come. She served Columbine High School and community after the massacre, 1999-2003. She continues to work with 9-11 survivors and survivor families on both east and west coasts.

Estés served as appointee by two Governors to the Colorado State Grievance Board (1993–2006) where she was elected Chair. She has been an advisory board member for National Writers Union, New York; an advisory board member of National Coalition Against Censorship, New York; and is a board member of the Maya Angelou Minority Health Foundation at Wake Forest University Medical School. She is an advisor to El Museo de las Americas, Colorado; a contributing editor to The Bloomsbury Review; and a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

Estés, "a former 'hard-scrabble' welfare mother",[1] is the recipient of numerous awards for her life's work, including the first Joseph Campbell Keeper of the Lore Award for her work as La cantadora; and for her written work, the Gradiva Award from the National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis; and Catholic Press Association award for her writing. She received the Las Primeras Award, "The First of Her Kind" from the Mexican American Women's Foundation, Washington D.C. She is a 2006 inductee into the Colorado Women's Hall of Fame which recognizes women "change agents" who are of international influence.

Social justice[edit]

Estés is Managing Editor for, a news and political blog where she also writes on issues of culture, soul, and politics. She is also a columnist on issues of social justice, spirituality and culture in her column archived as "El Rio Debajo del Rio" ("The River Underneath the River") on the National Catholic Reporter website.

She is controversial for proposing that both assimilation and holding to ethnic traditions are the ways to contribute to a creative culture and to a soul-based civility. She successfully helped to petition the Library of Congress, as well as worldwide psychoanalytic institutes, to rename their studies and categorizations formerly called, among other things, "psychology of the primitives", to respectful and descriptive names, according to ethnic group, religion, culture, etc.

Estés' Guadalupe Foundation funds literacy projects, including in Queens, New York City, in Madagascar - providing printed local folktales, healthcare and hygiene information for people in their own language. These texts are then used for learning to read and write. Estés testifies before state and federal legislatures on welfare reform, education and school violence, child protection, mental health, environment, licensing of professionals, immigration, and other quality of life and soul issues.


  • "Untie the Strong Woman: Blessed Mother's Immaculate Love for the Wild Soul" (Sounds True Books, HC, USA, November 2011)
  • Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype (Ballantine, 1992/ 1996, USA)
  • The Faithful Gardener: A Wise Tale About that Which Can Never Die (Harper SanFrancisco, 1996, USA)
  • The Gift of Story: A Wise Tale About What is Enough (Ballantine, 1993, USA)
  • Tales of the Brothers' Grimm; 50-page introduction by Estés (BMOC/QPB special edition, USA)
  • Hero With A Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell; 50-page introduction by Estés (Princeton University Press, Joseph Campbell 100th anniversary edition 2004, USA)
  • La danza delle grandi madri: The Dance of the Grand Madri (Sperling & Kupfer/ Frassinelli, 2007, Milano, Italy)
  • Donne che corrono coi lupi (Sperling & Kupfer/ Frassinelli, 1993, Milano, Italy)
  • Forte è la Donna: dalla Grande Madre Benedetta, insegnamenti per i nostri tempi (Sperling & Kupfer/ Frassinelli, May 2011, Milano, Italy)

Audio works[edit]

Estés is a spoken word artist in poetry, stories, blessings and psychoanalytic commentary. Her many audio works, published by Sounds True, are available as CDs and mp3s and have been broadcast over numerous National Public Radio and community public radio stations throughout Canada and the United States.

  • Untie the Strong Woman: To Know and Honor Holy Mother & La Nuestra Señora, Our Lady of Guadalupe (2011) (mp3s/CDs)
  • How To Be An Elder: Myths and Stories of The Dangerous Old Woman, Volume 5 (2012) (mp3s/CDs)
  • The Late Bloomer: Myths and Stories of The Dangerous Old Woman, Volume 4 (2011) (mp3s/CDs)
  • The Joyous Body: Myths and Stories of The Dangerous Old Woman and the Consort Body, Volume 3 (2011) (mp3s/CDs)
  • The Power of the Crone: Myths and Stories of The Dangerous Old Woman and Her Special Wisdom, Volume 2 (2010) (mp3s/CDs)
  • The Dangerous Old Woman: Myths and Stories of the Wise Woman Archetype, Volume 1 (2010) (mp3s/CDs)
  • Mother Night: Myths, Stories and Teachings for Learning to See in the Dark (2010) (mp3s/CDs)
  • Seeing in the Dark: Myths and Stories to Reclaim the Buried, Knowing Woman (2010) (mp3s/CDs)
  • Warming the Stone Child: Myths & Stories About Abandonment and the Unmothered Child (1997) (mp3s/CDs)
  • The Radiant Coat: Myths & Stories About the Crossing Between Life and Death (1993) (mp3s/CDs)
  • The Creative Fire: Myths and Stories About the Cycles of Creativity (1993) (mp3s/CDs)
  • In the House of the Riddle Mother: The Most Common Archetypal Motifs in Women's Dreams (1997, 2005) (mp3s/CDs)
  • Theatre of the Imagination: Volume I (1999, 2005) (mp3s/CDs)
  • Theatre of the Imagination: Volume II (1999, 2005) (mp3s/CDs)
  • The Red Shoes: On Torment and the Recovery of Soul Life (1997, 2005) (mp3s/CDs)
  • Bedtime Stories: For Crossing the Threshold Between Waking and Sleep (2002) (mp3s/CDs)
  • Beginner's Guide to Dream Analysis (2000) (mp3s/CDs)
  • How To Love A Woman: Myths and Stories about Intimacy and The Erotic Lives of Women (1996) (mp3s/CDs)
  • The Faithful Gardener: A Wise Tale About that Which Can Never Die (1996) (mp3s/CDs)
  • The Boy Who Married An Eagle: Myths and Stories About Men's Interior Lives (1995) ( audio cassette)
  • The Gift of Story: A Wise Tale About What is Enough (1993) (mp3s/CDs)
  • Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories about the Wild Woman Archetype (1989 audio bestseller, released before the completed manuscript was in book form ) (mp3s/CDs)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Untie the Strong Woman

External links[edit]