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Sunday, August 4, 2013

Today’s post is brought to you by the letter J -- J for Jungian Archetypes.

Several years ago, long before I dove head-first into writing romance, I wrote a 5-book, 500,000 word brain child affectionately referred to as my Magnum Opus -- the unnamed MO for short. My tome-to-be is heavy in more than just wordage. It's steeped in philosophy, theology, theosophy, physics/quantum physics, metaphysics, energy medicine, and above all, it's a timeless love story. The MO is filled with historical vignettes starting 38,000 years ago in what is now France to Philadelphia during the Revolutionary War. As with all of my novels, I also make a social statement with it. (I'm naturally compelled!). The story was one all authors wish for -- the kind where someone flips a switch inside your head and it  writes itself.

The concept came to me after reading Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With a Thousand Faces. His book discusses the journey of archetypal heroes found in world mythologies. Hero quests are the stuff of literature and we love them from Homer's Odyssey to Harry Potter.

It got me thinking...why do we love the hero quest? I suspect it's because we can so easily see ourselves in them. Be it Odysseus escaping Calypso's island or Harry Potter ridding the wizarding world of Voldemort, it's very appealing when heroes and heroines win the day. Campbell’s book got me interested in the notion of opposites -- good/evil, light/dark, right/wrong because these are recurring themes in humanity. I was unknowingly tapping into common hero and villain  traits when creating the characters for my stories. These traits are called Jungian Archetypes after Swiss psychotherapist and psychiatrist Carl Jung. Jung studied and named the personality traits we all know today – the outgoing extravert and the quiet introvert, for example.

After splitting from his colleague Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung founded analytical psychology. He discovered there were more facets to human personality than just being outgoing vs. reserved. Along with his study of prehistoric artworks, it was his interest in world folklore and literature spanning thousands of years that led him to categorize everyone. Jung created some of the best known psychological concepts of all time, one of which was the archetype. 

What are Archetypes exactly? To begin, the origin of the word archetype comes from the Greek archétypon, which means first-molded. In essence, this is the original model of a person – a prototype which others emulate. In psychology, an archetype is a model of personality or behavior universally recognizable by all. In works of fiction, these personality traits are the platform we build our heroes and heroines upon.

Here’s what Jung came up with. See how many make instant connections in your mind.

I'll start with the ego and its four functions: Sensation, Thinking, Feeling, and Intuition. From there we have:
  • The Self: the regulating center of the psyche. The whole, unified consciousness and unconscious of a person.
  • The Shadow: the opposite of the ego image. Contains qualities the ego does not identify with but still possesses. The part of the unconscious mind consisting of instincts, repressed weaknesses, and shortcomings.
  • The Anima: the feminine image in a man's psyche, aka, the unconscious feminine qualities that a male possesses.
  • The Animus: the masculine image in a woman's psyche, aka the unconscious masculine qualities that a woman possesses.
  • The Persona: how we present ourselves to the world.
Within these, Jung determined the archetypes were limitless. Here are a few recurring ones:
  • The Child: or innocent, is more likely to suffer at the hands of others
  • The Hero: comes from a position of weakness, but in the face of danger or adversity will display courage and self-sacrifice for some greater good.
  • The Great Mother: the bountiful embodiment of the Earth. Refers to any mothering goddess associated with motherhood, fertility, or creation.
  • The Wise Old Man: usually a profound philosopher, who uses personal knowledge of the world to teach wisdom and sound judgment.
  • The Trickster: intentionally breaks the rules but unintentionally gets positive effects out of it.
  • The Devil: displays characteristics of pure evil. Typically self-centered and power-hungry, only interested in achieving personal goals.
  • The Scarecrow: Mysteriously knows everything about the world, yet has had no interaction with the world to gain that knowledge.
  • The Mentor: Are often imaginative people who are more intrigued by future possibilities than concerned with the here and now. A great source of inspiration to the people around them.
I've used most of these and I've also combined traits to add depth to the circumstances of my characters' personal histories. With them I create intelligent characters. The heroines in all of my stories are strong competent women. All of my equally sharp heroes walk through their world confident and unashamed to be tender and kind-hearted. Their anima/animus duality is what makes both interesting and loveable. The best thing about them is they both know how lucky they are to have the other person in their lives – twin flames, two halves of the one. 

Sample my archetypes for yourself with Amazon's Look Inside feature.

Here's an intriguing clip to explain the Anima and Animus.


What's your type? Take the test and find out!

Rose is multi-published author and dilettante who loves great conversation and learning interesting things to weave into stories. She lives with her family and small menagerie amid oak groves and prairie in the rolling glacial hills of the upper mid-west.  
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Victoria Adams said...

Fascinating. Felt like I was back in psych 101. A great way to add depth to the hero and the villain.

Rose Anderson said...

Thanks Victoria. :)

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Rose,

I too studied the Jungian Archetypes in psychology as an undergrad. And they are still fascinating and as you point out applicable for romance writers. A very interesting blog!

Jacqueline Seewald;jsessionid=1393C3C686B0F8B9EDEDD9B62B0A54F8?authorid=2189

woolfcindy said...

Great blog, Rose. I hope to be able to use them in my WIP. You've given me a starting point.

Cara Marsi said...

Wow, Rose, that was some MO you wrote. I studied Jung too in Psych class. Fascinating. I've used some of these archetypes in my books. If I think too deeply about which types I use, my brain freezes. I'd rather just write them, and later I realize I've used Jung's archetypes. Good and interesting blog.

Edie Hart said...

Great post!

Jane Leopold Quinn said...

Interesting stuff, Rose. I took the test and came out exactly as I've always thought myself. ;-) And yes, the archtypes are a wonderful way to write our characters.

Melissa Keir said...

I took the test. Here's my score:
Humanmetrics Jung Typology Test™
Your Type
Introvert(56%) Sensing(25%) Feeling(62%) Judging(67%)
You have moderate preference of Introversion over Extraversion (56%)
You have moderate preference of Sensing over Intuition (25%)
You have distinctive preference of Feeling over Thinking (62%)
You have distinctive preference of Judging over Perceiving (67%)

I am a huge fan of William Glasser's work. If you haven't heard of him, check his writings out. I love his work on needs and how we drive our decisions.

Rose Anderson said...

Thanks for stopping by everyone. I hope you had fun with it.


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