Part One – Introduction to the unconscious and archetypes.
Freud was the first psychologist to posit that humans had an unconscious. This resulted from his belief that each effect or behavior of his patients must have a cause. Since many of the causes appeared unknown to either Freud or his patients, he theorized that they were caused by an unknown or an “unconscious.” Freud further believed that the psyche consisted of three parts: the id, which is within the unconscious, and the ego and superego which are partially in the conscious and the unconscious. The id consists of primitive survival urges, the superego holds our values or morals, and the ego mediates between the two.
Carl Jung, a student of Freud’s, modified that theory because he believed that there was a positive, creative side to the unconscious. His model of the psyche contained the ego which was the conscious mind, the personal unconscious that contained ideas that were not currently conscious but could be conscious, and the collective unconscious or reservoir of knowledge that we are born with, but are never directly conscious of.
Jung formulated that humans do not have separate, personal unconscious minds but that we share a single universal unconscious with the entire human race. Using a computer analog, a portion of our minds are like subdirectories within a large universal network called the collective unconscious. This subdirectory has access to use all information that has ever been filed on the network.
Jung’s biggest contribution to understanding the psyche was his theory that within the collective unconscious are archetypes which are defining models or blueprints of classical personality types. They represent a commonality of human experiences over extended periods and thus their population is immense. Jung found them present in all cultures and reflected in art, literature, myth and religion throughout the ages.
These archetypes provide the very foundations of our behaviors - our thinking, our feeling, and our characteristic human reactions. All of our social conduct is a result of expressing one or more of these archetypes.
How archetypes work
Since archetypes are within the unconscious empirical evidence of their existence is not possible. However, using actual “invisible” forces to explain them can be helpful. If iron filings are placed upon a sheet of paper that has a magnet underneath it, the filings will align themselves based upon the energy of the magnetic field generated by the magnet. This field acts on and rearranges the filings, but it is invisible. Thus, all of our behavior results from the invisible influence of one or more archetypes.
How archetypes behave
These archetypes may merge or constellate thus acting in conjunction with one another. When this occurs the ego referees this interaction and determines which archetype and in what proportion will appear. They are at their most powerful when this happens because a blended archetype is most effective at handling problems.
Focusing on the makeup of an individual archetype, each is characterized by three sets of behaviors. The first is the positive healthy behavior. The other two are active and passive dysfunctional or shadow forms. When the ego is overly identified with the archetype, or actively dysfunctional, it becomes inflated. When the ego is minimally identified with the archetype it is passively dysfunctional and is deprived of the archetypes strengths. At any one time the archetype will be operating out one of these behaviors.
Part two – the male masculine archetypes
In discussing the masculine psyche, I will describe four separate archetypes; the king, the warrior, the magician, and the lover along with the shadow behaviors that characterize them. These four archetypes are universal archetypes that all males have contained within their own psyche.
The King archetype, although seemingly archaic in a modern democracy, manifests itself in any position of authority over others, whether as business executive, chief executive officer, president, or general. He conducts his kingdom, realm, or organization by the highest ethical standards.
The King is the central male archetype. He integrates power and nurturing, firmness and caring, courage and creativity. His chief qualities are that of ordering, and of reasonable and rational thought. He brings stability and calmness to out of control and chaotic circumstances. He guides and nurtures others to reach their full potential. He has a firm and kindly outlook toward all. Unfortunately, there are very few examples in today’s society. Historically, George Washington, Martin Luther King, Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Queen Elizabeth are examples.
The positive shadow King is the Tyrant. The Tyrant is destructive; he often reacts with fear and rage. In pursuit of his own self interest, which he often is, he can be merciless and without feeling. His own weakness gets projected on others. He does not do well with young people, either his or others. He is demeaning and disinterested towards them. His enmity can be both physical and sexual. While common to some extent in all males, the Tyrant is frequently found in males with narcissistic disorders. These are people who believe the universe revolves around them and others are there to make their lives easier. The tyrant frequently occurs within certain professions more than others. In the criminal world, drug lords and pimps are examples. Tony Soprano often exhibits the Tyrant. In the corporate world they also exist. Examples abound within the halls of Enron, Tyco, WorldCom, Purdue Pharma LP, producer of Oxycontin, and others.
The passive shadow of the King is the Weakling. Projecting his own weakness, he often attacks people he feels are weak. They are insecure and frequently are out to punish others before they get punished. They exhibit paranoid tendencies. They frequently turn over their power to others thus abdicating their own responsibilities as happened at Jonestown in 1978.
The Warrior is the basic building block of the masculine psyche; it’s as if it is within our genes. The history of man is a history of war. The great warrior personality has existed in every society throughout history. He can be seen in the soldier, policeman, martial arts master, or sports hero. He is a model of courage, discipline and self-control.
The Japanese samurai is an excellent example of the Warrior psyche. In their tradition they faced life head on and marched only in one direction – forward, they were always alert, and knew how to focus their body and mind.
The Warrior understands the importance of training to develop skill, power, and accuracy, all performed with control, both inner and outer, psychological and physical.
The warrior operates most effectively in conjunction with one or more of the three other masculine archetypes. When interfacing with the King he is using his discipline and courage to lead his organization in the proper direction. Interfacing with the magician he is able to direct and control his power to accomplish his goals. The combination with the lover gives the warrior compassion. On the other hand, acting alone as the warrior can be problematic leading to emotional detachment and problems with interpersonal relationships.
The active shadow side of the Warrior is the sadist who lacks the ability to empathize. Well known figures that represent this archetype are: Darth Vader, the passionless killer in the Star Wars movie and the god of the Old Testament who reduces the planet to rubble and nearly kills every living thing.
In contemporary life we see this figure as the guards at Abu Ghraib who tortured and abused the prisoners, in the bosses who unjustly fire or harass undeserving employees, and in husbands who beat and abuse their wives and children.
In addition to appearing in occupations such as the military, a personality disorder referred to as obsessive compulsive is very often susceptible to this shadow side.
The masochist is the passive version of the warrior and is a pushover or a wimp. Operating under this version he is unable to set boundaries in service of himself and others. Failing to be able to activate the warrior prevents him from taking the actions necessary to make his dreams come true, from accomplishing his goals, and from getting his assignments completed. Basically it prevents from getting done what needs to be done.
The magician has both materialistic and nonmaterialistic powers. His materialistic powers make him both the knower and the master of technology. All knowledge that requires special training is within his scope. In past eras the magician was the holy man, the witch doctor, the wizard, and the shaman. He was the sole person with special powers based upon his unique knowledge. He was sought out to answer the unanswerable questions by the king and others. This knowledge makes him a powerful archetype.
The nonmaterialistic powers include personal growth, awareness and insight, thoughtfulness and reflection, and transformation.
In this age of technology the Magician should be a very strong figure and he is for the material part of his identity. However, in the personal growth and transformation, or nonmaterial areas, his influence is seldom seen within our culture. Lance Armstong’s transformation from cancer victim to ultimately winner of the tour de France might be an example.
The active shadow version of the magician is the manipulator. The manipulator is detached, unrelated, and withholding to others when he could be helpful. He uses knowledge as a weapon to belittle and control and to increase his status and wealth.
We see him today in the form of propaganda and controlled media briefings from governments, the artificially orchestrated political rallies, and the misrepresented advertising in the media. It also appears in the growing complexity of the legal system, especially tax law that requires the use of special knowledge that financially benefits the manipulator to the detriment of the average citizen.
The Innocent One, the passive shadow version, lacks an inner security. He wants the power of the Magician, but is unwilling to make the commitment to become one. The Innocent One is illusive; he keeps us off balance and makes confrontation difficult. We recently saw it in Alberto Gonzales, the US Attorney General, when he testified before the US Senate.
The Lover is receptive to the environment, he is emotional and sensitive, and he is alive and passionate. He lives on his intuitions and gains knowledge about his world through sensations and emotions, not rational thought like the Magician. He gives us our spirituality.
He is the opposite of the Warrior. He is opposed to the boundaries, enclosures, order, and discipline of the warrior, king, and magician. For this he is often persecuted by the Church.
The Lover is frequently manifested in life in creative people such as artists, composers, authors, chefs, and in all of us who stop and “smell the roses.” In our present culture the main presence is in our “love lives.”
The active shadow of the Lover is the Addict. He is overcome with his sensations. His primary characteristic is lostness and exhibits it in several ways. He becomes unbalanced and frequently exhibits addictive behavior; he is shortsighted and lives only for the pleasure of the moment; he is eternally restless and is always searching for something.
The passive shadow is the impotent lover. He displays a lack of enthusiasm, a lack of motivation, and is generally depressed.
In conclusion, in a balanced masculine male these four archetypes all fit together. Each of us needs to have and express each one, in a balanced way. Too much of one, and too little of another, and there will be an imbalance. Then the shadow takes over, and you begin to act out of the shadow, instead of acting out the truth of your higher nobler self.
What we can do
Today Carl Jung might say that the evolutionary process has placed four powerful masculine archetypes within each male. It is now up to each one of us to decide how we can transform ourselves from living our lives under the power of the boy psychology into real men guided by these archetypes. We desperately need more Don Quixote’s and fewer Don Imus’s.
Resources for this report were two books, “King Warrior Magician Lover, rediscovering the archetypes of the mature masculine” by Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette and The Hero Within by Carol Pearson.