By: Steve Gainey, MA, LLP, ADS, CAADC, EAC Clinical Specialist – An archetype is a representative example of something and may be used as a default mental image. In personality, they are universal models of people, behavior, or personality that plays a role in influencing our human behavior.
Carl Jung was well known for working with archetypes in psychotherapy. He stated that there are 12 archetypes. A person is not all 12, but certain ones will describe a “personality” style that fits.
In her book, Sacred Contracts, Caroline Myss compares four of the twelve archetypes – The Child, The Saboteur, The Prostitute and The Victim. She describes these archetypes to a table’s four legs. The table legs represent your relationship to the ground beneath your feet. They need to be stable to support the weight of the tabletop, our life and mission.
Here are the 4 archetypes that are described:
The Child. This archetype sets up our earliest perceptions of life, safety, and ourselves. This includes the psychological decisions we made about life, safety, self-worth, and relationships with “others.” Some examples of these are: the wounded child, the abandoned child, the dependent child, and the innocent child. This personal archetype also influences the next 3 archetypes.
The Saboteur. The saboteur brings us things in life, but sometimes we sabotage ourselves. This archetype can cause someone to resist opportunities or take on ones they are not ready for yet.
For example, I may want to be a facilitator of a workshop. A colleague asked me at the last minute to cover for them and facilitate it. It is not my expertise, and I only have a few days to prepare. However, I say yes. I do the workshop and it does not go well. I was not ready to take that opportunity on yet. Another view of this example would be if a fellow colleague asks me to cover a workshop and it’s something I know well, but I say “no” because its short notice and I have other plans this weekend. In that case, it may have worked out well. But, in both cases, I sabotaged myself.
The Prostitute. How and what are you willing to give up (or sell out) for the sake of your security? Here are some examples:
- I’m willing to stay at this job because it’s too hard to look for another one or see if there are other positions I could consider.
- I would rather stay in this unhealthy relationship because I do not want to be alone.
The Victim. The core issue with this archetype is whether it’s worth giving up your own sense of empowerment to avoid taking personal responsibility for your choices, decisions, and independence or blame other’s or situations. For example, imagine a conflict with a coworker or partner. Being the victim, you don’t see anything you had to do with the situation; it’s “JUST THEM.” There is nothing you can do to help or change the situation.
Using all of these archetypes can help to give you a perspective of how you are living your life or what patterns are influencing you. They can assist you in decision making, relationships, work, spiritualty, values, and much more.
To examine your archetypes more deeply or if you are interested in learning more about this topic or have other life struggles, please contact EAC and set up an appointment. We’re here to help!