This article introduces Jungian archetypes and discusses the most common of them. Archetypes are a fundamental element in understanding literature, psychology, and life experience. Jungian archetypes were first introduced by Carl Jung, who considered them part of the collective unconscious where all humans share certain universal images or symbols.
These symbols emerge from our deepest collective hopes and fears about what we know to be true about humanity so far.
The Jungian archetype list:
- “The Wise Old Man” is a person who has acquired wisdom through their years living on earth
- “The Great Mother” is symbolic of fertility, nourishment, protection, abundance – she is known for her unconditional love
- “The Child” is the epitome of innocence, playfulness, and purity – he represents hope for a better future
- “The Shadow” or “Shapeshifter,” often referred to as your most repressed part, which you don’t want to acknowledge in yourself
- The Self is an indestructible core of who you are that cannot be defined in terms of your shadow nor by any other part of yourself – it’s ultimately something that can only be discovered through experience. As such, words are limited here – all one can do is provide hints to help light someone on their path to discovery.
- Anima (Latin term) or animus (Greek term), it’s the female/male component of one’s personality that helps complete them; there needs to be a balance between both components; otherwise, problems arise with personal relationships
- The persona is the social mask or one’s public image of themselves
- An archetype that has not been mentioned yet but is also very important to mention here would be “The Trickster,” who can either be mischievous, troublesome and/or a survivor depending on what type of trick they are pulling. If you pay attention closely enough, you will find them in literature, psychology, and life experience time after time again!
More Jungian Archetypes:
- The Lover- This archetype is a symbol of love and devotion.
- The Child- This archetype represents a new point of view or a fresh start.
- Nature Mother- This archetype is associated with the natural world and the need to live in harmony.
- Earth Father- This archetype is associated with fertility, wisdom, and good health. It also stands for the firmness of resolve.
- The Ruler- This archetype offers protection through structure and organization. The Ruler can be harsh or kindly but is always. It also associates itself with dignity, selfless service, purification, and cleansing fire.
- The hero archetype has many variations, but in its most basic form, it can be described as someone who faces danger, endures trials, and overcomes a challenge. This archetype is timeless and exists in the stories we learn as children.
- The archetype of evil is known by many names over the course of human history including Satan, Lucifer, Beelzebub and Mephistopheles to name a few. The general concept behind this archetype has not changed throughout time; it is simply used in reference to whatever culture or religion is speaking. The current term for this archetype is Satan, which comes from the Hebrew language’s word “sathane” meaning to oppose or act in defiance.
Jungian Archetype cheat sheet:
1. The Shadow is the part of ourselves that we don’t want to acknowledge
2. The Persona is how we present ourselves to other people
3. The Anima/Animus are our animating forces, often in opposition with one another
4. Our Ego mediates between the shadow and persona while also being influenced by both
5. The Self is our truest self, which encompasses all parts of our psyche
6. Archetypes are symbolic representations of different facets of human experience or behavior
7. Carl Jung’s theory on archetypes argues that they come from an individual’s collective unconsciousness, a universal pool of shared experiences and images that every person has access to but does not necessarily remember because of repression
8. An archetype is a pattern of thought, behavior, and emotion that organizes our perceptions and experiences into similar themes across various situations and time
9. Archetypes exist within the collective unconsciousness because they represent fundamental patterns to human life
10. All archetypes are present in all people, which explains why we share certain images or ideas as a species
11. We become aware of an archetype through symbols or metaphors represented by those images
12. The shadow is often aggressive towards the persona because it represents everything we don’t want to acknowledge about ourselves
13. Men’s persona often incorporates women’s anima, but due to misogyny, men can’t connect with that anima, which leads to sexual dysfunction and psychosis
14. Anima/Animus can also be a source of creativity in art and science because they are a part of the unconscious that we don’t repress
15. The anima initially appears as a mother or sister figure to men, which continues well into adulthood when men often fall in love with women who hold them back from true independence
16. Jung’s view on homosexuality is controversial because it was based on societal norms about gender roles and masculinity, but he did acknowledge that the anima/animus could influence sexuality
17. In feminine psychology, the persona can become too disconnected from the shadow, which leads to a psychotic break when reality doesn’t align with the image she created for herself
18. Despite Jung’s misogynistic views towards women, he considered them to be more integrated than men
19. The greatest strength of feminine psychology is the conscious connection between the animus and shadow
20. American psychologists today are criticized for not taking into account that their field of study is heavily influenced by white privilege, masculine values, and Eurocentric biases
21. Many people experience poor mental health because they lack an understanding of how symbols can communicate with our unconsciousness
Some people have found it helpful to think about their own lives using Jungian archetypes to understand certain aspects of your personality or behavior patterns. You may feel drawn towards some characters more than others at different stages throughout your life.
This is normal as these characters represent our feelings and behaviors. Sometimes we are drawn to similar characters, but sometimes we can be pulled towards those who are completely different.