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14. Jungian Archetypes

14. Jungian Archetypes

Many psychologists would question Carl Jung’s contributions to psychoanalysis. He tended to describe things in sweeping metaphor, which leaves many a modern psychologist scratching their head as to whether he was talking about the human mind or a bad screenplay. People who tell stories, however, owe a great debt to Carl as he very clearly described the components of the “Heroes Journey” one of the most common (and equally controversial) tropes in literature.

Jungian archetypes map extraordinarily well to all sorts of character driven stories and by understanding them, you can get a much clearer picture of how well you work fits into the template and where you can creatively bend the rules to tell a better tale.

People argue as to just how many archetypes Jung described, but here is a pretty good listing from Stenudd,

The hero, who pursues a great quest to realize his destiny.

The self, the personality striving towards its own complete realization.

The shadow, the amoral remnant of our instinctual animal past.

The persona, the mask and pretense we show others.

The anima and animus, our female and male roles and urges.

The mother, primarily in the sense of our need of her.

The father, primarily an authority figure often inducing fear.

The child, our innocent beginning with all our potential in front of us.

The sage, or wise old man, one who has the profound knowledge.

The god, the perfect image of the Self.

The goddess, the great mother, or Mother Earth.

The trickster, a rascal agent pushing us towards change.

The hermaphrodite, the joiner of opposites.

The beast, a representation of the primitive past of man.

The scapegoat, suffering the shortcomings of others.

The fool, wandering off in confusion and faulty directions.

The artist, the visionary and inspired way of approaching truth.

Mana and other concepts of spiritual energy.

The journey, a representation of the quest towards self-realization.

Life, death and rebirth, the cyclic nature of existence.

Light and dark, images of the conscious and the unconscious.

The tree, the growth towards self-fulfillment.

Water, the unconscious and the emotions.

The wizard, knowledgeable of the hidden and of transformation needed.

Read the rest of the article to see how all of these pieces interact. While you’re at it, you should look at some of your favorite stories and see how well they fit into the Jungian world view. You might be surprised. Just for practice, I’d start by dusting off your old D&D Monster Manual.

Just for kicks, turn your attention to the video and learn a little more about Mr. Jung.

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