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An archetype is a generic, idealized model of a person, object, or concept from which similar instances are derived, copied, patterned, or emulated. In psychology, an archetype is a model of a person, personality, or behavior. This article is about personality archetypes, as described in literature analysis and the study of the psyche.
In the analysis of personality, the term archetype is often broadly used to refer to
- a stereotype—personality type observed multiple times, especially an oversimplification of such a type; or
- an epitome—personality type exemplified, especially the "greatest" such example.
- a literary term to express details.
However, in a strict linguistic sense, an archetype is merely a defining example of a personality type. The accepted use of archetype is to refer to a generic version of a personality. In this sense "mother figure" can be considered an archetype and instances can be found in various female characters with distinct (non-generic) personalities.
Archetypes have been present in mythology and literature for hundreds of years. The use of archetypes to analyze personality was advanced by Carl Jung early in the 20th century. The value in using archetypal characters in fiction derives from the fact that a large group of people are able to unconsciously recognize the archetype, and thus the motivations, behind the character's behavior.
There are many different kinds of archetypes. For example the Romantic Archetype which contains six different stages; Beginnings, Innocence, Quest, The Power of Innocence, Withdrawal from action and Survival and the Telling of Tales.
Etymology[edit | edit source]
The word archetype appeared in European texts as early as 1545. It derives from the Latin noun archetypum via the Greek noun arkhetypon and adjective arkhetypos, meaning "first-moulded". The Greek roots are arkhe- ("first" or "original") + typos ("model", "type", "blow", "mark of a blow").
Jungian archetypes[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Jungian archetypes
The concept of psychological archetypes was advanced by the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, c. 1919. In Jung's psychological framework archetypes are innate, universal prototypes for ideas and may be used to interpret observations. A group of memories and interpretations associated with an archetype is a complex, e.g. a mother complex associated with the mother archetype. Jung treated the archetypes as psychological organs, analogous to physical ones in that both are morphological constructs that arose through evolution. 
Jung outlined four main archetypes:
- The Self, the regulating center of the psyche and facilitator of individuation
- The Shadow, the opposite of the ego image, often containing qualities that the ego does not identify with but possess nonetheless
- The Anima, the feminine image in a man's psyche
- The Animus, the masculine image in a woman's psyche
Although the number of archetypes is limitless, there are a few particularly notable, recurring archetypal images:
- The Syzygy
- The Child
- The Hero
- The Great Mother
- The Wise old man
- The Trickster or Ape
- The Puer Aeternus (Latin for "eternal boy")
- The Cosmic Man
- The artist-scientist
See also[edit | edit source]
- Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism
- Perennial philosophy
- Wounded healer
See also[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- Douglas Harper. Online Etymology Dictionary - Archetype.
- Pronunciation Challenges: Confusions and Controversy.
- Boeree, C. George Carl Jung. URL accessed on 2006-03-09.
Sources[edit | edit source]
- Jung, C. G., (1934–1954). The Archetypes and The Collective Unconscious. (1981 2nd ed. Collected Works Vol.9 Part 1), Princeton, N.J.: Bollingen. ISBN 0-691-01833-2
- Arrien, Angeles (1992). Signs Of Life: The Five Universal Shapes And How To Use Them. Sonoma, CA, USA: Arcus Publishing Company. ISBN 0-916955-10-9
- Pearson, Carol (1989). The hero within: six archetypes we live by, San Francisco: Harper & Row.
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