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Clarissa Pinkola Estés. Courtesy

Clarissa Pinkola Estés
Born January 27 1945 (1945-01-27) (age 77)
Indiana, United States
Occupation Psychoanalyst, poet, post-trauma specialist, author
Genres depth psychology, archetypal psychology, analytical psychology, traditional medicine, ethnic studies, mythology, women's studies, diversity, post-traumatic stress disorder, poetry

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


Her doctorate, from the Union Institute & University, is in ethno-clinical psychology, the study of social and psychological patterns of cultural and tribal groups.

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 World War I, World War II, 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 southwest of the 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.

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.

Estés served as appointee by 2 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.

Social justice[]

Estés is Managing Editor for, a news and political blog where she also writes on issues of culture, soul, and politics. A "former 'hard-scrabble' welfare mother",[1] 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, and 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.


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.


  • "I was raised in the now nearly vanished oral and ethnic traditions of my families. I am a first-generation American who grew up in a rural village, population 600, near the Great Lakes. Of Mexican mestiza and majority Magyar and minority Swabian tribal heritages, I come from immigrant and refugee families who could not read or write, or who did so haltingly. Much of my writing is influenced by my family people who were farmers, shepherds, hopsmeisters, wheelwrights, weavers, orchardists, tailors, cabinet makers, lacemakers, knitters, and horsemen and horsewomen from the Old Countries." (excerpt from Forte è la Donna: dalla Grande Madre Bennedetta, insegnamenti per i nostri tempi (Sperling & Kupfer/ Frassinelli, May 2011, Milano, Italy)
  • "We are all los inmigrantes, the Soul is The First Immigrant: The Soul cannot be held back by any imaginary boundary drawn against it; not by mountain ranges, not by rivers, nor by human scorn. The Soul, goes everywhere, like an old woman in her right mind, going anywhere she wishes, saying whatever she wants, bending to mend whatever is within her reach. Wherever she goes, the Soul brings new life." - from The Dangerous Old Woman audiobook
  • "There is no ethnic group on the face of this earth that has not been slaughtered; viz Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Britons. When, after a conflict, the best balanced leaders who have a stake in the future of all persons, are bypassed, and instead power is seized by the angriest and most grudge-holding, whose greatest stake is in the past… without new consciousness, and without strong reconciling actions... thus erupts a horrible recycling of living out the least of what is human in this world." from "Letter To The Prince on the Anniversary of Kristallnacht"
  • "As artist-in-residence in schools, I find whereas children used to dream bear, wolf, tiger as both friends and foes, and often… now, so so many children are dreaming Machine; gigantic stomping splints and walking piers of glittering mutant metal.... " - from essay "Wild Wolf/ Wild Soul" in Comeback Wolves, eds G. Wockner, L. Prichett
  • "There are not two 'Ms to governing, as many PolySci courses have taught: 'Money and Management.' There are three M's. The third one is Mercy. The third "M" constitutes the difference between a country and a corporation." from testimony before Federal Ways and Means Committee on Social Programs, Washington, 1996 Congressional Record.
  • "Nature and human beings are not separate. You can be sure that when the land and creatures are wounded by humans, that those humans are copying their own psychic wounds into the earth and animals as well; what is wounded and without thought, wounds others..." from essay "Massacre of the Dreamers, in Untie The Strong Woman book"
  • "The wounding of land and creatures reaches to the dream world... and beyond it to impoverish the dreamers as well. Yet there is still time to intervene... but the time is right this instant..." ibid
  • "All strong souls first go to hell before they do the healing of the world they came here for. If we are lucky, we return to help those still trapped below." from the poem Abre La Puerta in Theatre of the Imagination (Sounds True), also for Kol Nidre at shul
  • "Do not lose heart, we were made for these times..." from Letter To A Young Activist During Troubled Times
  • "The craft of questions, the craft of stories, the craft of the hands - all these are the making of something, and that something is soul. Anytime we feed soul, it guarantees increase." from Women Who Run With the Wolves (Ballantine/ Bertelsmann 1992, 1996) (p. 14)
  • "Just because a woman is silent does not mean she agrees…" - from The Dangerous Old Woman audiobook
  • "If logic were everything, all men would ride sidesaddle…" - from Women Who Run With The Wolves
  • "Some people mistake being loving for being a sap. Quite the contrary, the most loving people are often the most fierce and the most acutely armed for battle... for they care about preserving and protecting poetry, symphonic song, ideas, the elements, creatures, inventions, hopes and dreams, dances and holiness... those goodly endeavors that cannot be allowed to perish from this earth, else humanity itself would perish..." - from The Dangerous Old Woman audiobook
  • "I admire the psychological thinkers of our times and of times past, who brought together pragmatic, imaginative and effective solutions to human suffering, that includes our own tribal people, as well as those who can read and write." (Podcast interview, with Tami Simon, publisher, 2011)
  • If you have never been called a defiant, incorrigible, impossible woman… have faith… there is yet time." - from Women Who Run with the Wolves


Estés is the recipient of numerous awards for her life's work, including the 1st 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.



  • Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype Ballantine 1992; 1996.
  • The Gift of Story: A Wise Tale About What is Enough. Ballantine 1993.
  • The Faithful Gardener: A Wise Tale About that Which Can Never Die. San Francisco, CA: Harper, 1996.
  • Untie the Strong Woman: Blessed Mother's Immaculate Love for the Wild Soul. Sounds True Books, HC, USA, Nov. 2011.

Audio / video[]

Audio works[]

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.

  • Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories about the Wild Woman Archetype (1989 audio bestseller) (mp3s/CDs)
  • The Gift of Story: A Wise Tale About What is Enough (1993) (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)
  • The Boy Who Married An Eagle: Myths and Stories About Men's Interior Lives (1995) ( audio cassette)
  • 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)
  • Warming the Stone Child: Myths & Stories About Abandonment and the Unmothered Child (1997) (mp3s/CDs)
  • In the House of the Riddle Mother: The Most Common Archetypal Motifs in Women's Dreams (1997, 2005) (mp3s/CDs)
  • The Red Shoes: On Torment and the Recovery of Soul Life (1997, 2005) (mp3s/CDs)
  • Theatre of the Imagination: Volume I (1999, 2005) (mp3s/CDs)
  • Theatre of the Imagination: Volume II (1999, 2005) (mp3s/CDs)
  • Beginner's Guide to Dream Analysis (2000) (mp3s/CDs)
  • Bedtime Stories: For Crossing the Threshold Between Waking and Sleep (2002) (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)
  • 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)
  • 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)

See also[]


"We Were Made For These Times" Clarissa Pinkola Estes poem in English y mi pobre español



  1. Untie the Strong Woman

External links[]

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