An Encounter with Archetypes

An archetype is best comparable with a god...The deepest patterns of psychic functioning, the roots of the soul governing the perspective we have of ourselves and the world...[they] direct our actions along unswerving paths...{James Hillman}

Sometimes we don't understand why we keep recreating the experiences in our lives that we don’t want. We keep making the same type of mistakes but in different circumstances; being repeatedly attracted to or marrying the wrong people; getting caught up in conflict with people we encounter in different environments and situations. 

Look out an archetype is about clamouring for's been living a shadowy life...In short, personalities are clashing, colluding, conspiring...doing all sorts of things behind our backs as it were. 

As a result we get labelled and label others as difficult, angry, intense, passive, aloof, uncooperative, not a team player, drama queen, have 'chip' on shoulder etc etc. 

Games People Play

Most people are familiar with the characters that play out in the well-known 'drama triangle' and 'games people play' based on Eric Berne’s Transactional Analysis.  The ‘drama triangle’ introduces three among the most commonly known behavioural patterns which play out in everyday life – the persecutor or bully, the victim and rescuer.  Their interaction illustrates the everyday engagement in dysfunctional relationship for personal advantage.  The 'Drama Triangle' reveals the shadow aspects of personality ‘acted out’ in daily life that is unstable, manipulative, repetitive, emotionally competitive, potentially violent and destructive.

The bully is ever present, in the school playground, in the home and workplace - in every institution, including in government.

Long before I had really grasped and understood the dynamics of innate patterns of behaviour inherent in all of us, I noticed that two particular aspect of personality regularly attended sessions with clients: the child and the victim.
Patterns in Personality
 Whenever any client spoke of a recurring experience in their life, usually victimization of some kind, I’d ask the individual to identify the common denominator in all the experiences. After some thought, they came up with the answer: they were! 

The question was, what aspect of their personality was being victimised and why. It was always the child who came to sessions to tell what was going on.  Children generally speak the truth don’t they, sometimes at inappropriate moments.

The client’s task was to find their own answers. I was a companion on a journey of discovery and recovery.

Joining the Dots

By chance I attended a workshop presented by Caroline Myss, best selling author and internationally renowned lecturer in the field of energy medicine and human consciousness. Her first words were: we all have four habitual patterns of behaviour in common, the child, the victim, the prostitute and the saboteur.

She continued, “These four symbolize our major life challenges and influence how we choose to survive and manage our power in the world. Together they represent the issues, fears and vulnerabilities that cause us to negotiate away the power of our spirits in the physical world”.

I sat bolt upright in my chair. What did she just say, I asked myself?  Myself replied: she is telling you how and why lives get so tangled up and cause pain. What about your own behavioural patterns, what do you know about them?

Actually, I knew a lot about my orphan child; it would take a whole book to talk about her.

My training in psychology had touched on archetypal (and therefore universal) patterns of behaviour, and I had spotted the child and victim. But except in broad general terms, I knew little about the others. My curiosity was aroused. 

A year later I found myself shuttling between London and Chicago over a period of two years to attend a series of intensive workshops on archetypal psychology and the symbolic language of these aspects of self.

It was then my nemesis came to call...

To be continued...
Related post: a) Archetypes...Politicians...and Tricksters (December 2012)


  1. Actually, you have wriiten a book about your Orphan Child it's called...

    The Homecoming Journey of the Orphan Child.

    Is it available at


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