Carl Jung & The Archetypes
Think of the archetypes as predispositions that humans are born with to think, feel, behave and percieve in different ways.
Jungian archetypes are commonalities we share deep in our psyche that populate to the collective unconscious. Since the unconscious can exert will over our conscious behaviour, these archetypal stories and motifs not only exist in the unconscious but are also playing out in reality.
As it is well known, the archetypes dominate the stories of popular culture. Everything from children’s movies through to adult literature is riddled with an almost exact framework of storytelling.
The archetypical influence runs deep. So deep it is embedded into our earliest stories. The epic of Gilgamesh, Norse mythology, Christianity, Summerian and Egyptian mythology, all these foundational stories for culture share themes and stories that Jung just couldn’t bare call ‘coincidence‘.
There must be a reason for the creation of wonderfully complex, identical motifs which are near exact in copy and found universally around the world from cultures wholly independent of one another.
Because our psyche evolves, it carries with it the scars and memories of our ancestors. These scars are invisible to consciousness but manifest will at depth. The purpose of highlighting them is made in order to begin the process of psychological maturation and individuation.
The 3 Most Common Archetypes
The archetypes are both numerous and few at the same time. We each bare a unique psyche, but the will of the collective unconscious on the individual differs between people.
There are both universal archetypes as there are more specific as well. The common understanding on this point is undefined, as you can imagine, however for the purposes of learning an introduction to Jung here is the 3 most common Jungian archetypes that bare influence on our conscious world.
Otherwise known as the ‘girl next door’, the ‘good neighbour’ or the ‘ideal citizen’. The Everyman embodies above all traits of kindness and likeability. Think of the archetypical Ned Flanders; he does everything right, offends no one, never breaks the rules. Archetypically the everyman has evolved as a necessary input for functioning society and therefore is a theme very numerous and universally respected.
However, the Everyman falls short of admiration because the Everyman can never be a true individual for fear of always fitting in comes at the cost of personality and individuality. The Everyman can never be exceptional. They can never be remembered.
Every story and society throughout time has exhibited the Everyman.
Certainly the most recognised and admired of the archetypes, the Hero archetype is rife throughout popular culture.
The Hero archetype is the realisation of the highest potential within all of us. This archetype is so universal because it speaks to the possibilities of each and every individual life. The Hero archetype takes an ordinary person, you or me, and shows that even they are capable of extraordinary things. The Hero archetype is your potential, it resonates as deeply as anything can.
The Hero myth is front and centre stage in much of the stories we know and love. Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord Of The Rings and so much more.
Every story worth remembering throughout history has exhibited a Hero.
The Ruler is your by-the-by villain archetype. He is typically maniacal, ruthlessly authoritarian and universal in his quest for power. The Ruler is the archetype of uncapped ambition. It is the root of narcissism. The Ruler archetype exists as a constant theme in group dynamics and is engrained into our psyche as the ever-present quest for more power.
The ruler is universally evil, but not necessarily bad. There is a redeeming and relatable duality to the pursuit of power which makes the ruler such a complex archetype.
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