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The child archetype is a Jungian archetype, first suggested by psychologist Carl Jung. In more recent years, author Caroline Myss has suggested that the child, out of the four survival archetypes (Victim, prostitute, and saboteur), is present in all humans. According to Myss, its presence ranges from "childish to childlike longing for the innocent, regardless of age" and comprises sub-archetypes: "wounded child", "abandoned or orphan child", "dependent child", "magical/innocent child", "nature child", "divine child", and "eternal child".[1][2][3]

Jungians[edit | edit source]

Jung placed the "child" (including the child hero) in a list of archetypes that represent milestones in individuation.[4] Jungians exploring the hero myth have noted that "it represents our efforts to deal with the problem of growing up, aided by the illusion of an eternal fiction".[5] Thus for Jung, "the child is potential future", and the child archetype is a symbol of the developing personality.[6]

Others have warned, however, of the dangers posed to the parents drawn in by the "divine child" archetype – the belief of extraordinary potential in a child.[7]:106 The child, idealized by parents, eventually nurtures a feeling of superiority.[7]:118

Even where impacting less acutely, the child archetype may inhibit psychological maturation and result in an adult who is, in essence, "Mama's darling".[8][9] A man will end up with a strong attachment to a mother figure, either real or symbolic, and will lack the ability to form commitment or be generative.[9] The female version of this, specified as the "puella", will have a corresponding attachment to her father figure.[8]

Retrospective and prospective[edit | edit source]

Jung was concerned with the possibility of one's over-identification with their own persona, which would turn an individual into a stereotype born of social expectations and ambition, "unchildlike and artificial".[10] The child archetype becomes of use in this case, strengthening the individual's link to their past[11] by helping them recall childhood experiences and emotions.[12]

In its prospective role, the child archetype is a representation of future potentialities[13] and psychological maturation.[6]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Myss, Caroline (2010). The Four Archetypes of Survival. URL accessed on 21 May 2012.
  2. Myss, Caroline (2010). A Gallery of Archetypes. URL accessed on 21 May 2012.
  3. McGurn, Peggy A. (1998). The Divine Child archetype in Jungian psychological thought and practice. UMI: 9923263
  4. Jung, Carl (1999). Complex, archetype, symbol in the psychology of C.G. Jung, 113–4, London: Routledge. translated from German by Ralph Manheim
  5. Paul Radin, quoted in Henderson, Joseph L. (1978). "Ancient Myths and Modern Man" Jung, Carl Jun Man and his Symbols, 101–3.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Segal, Robert A. (1999). Theorizing about myth, Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Young-Eisendrath, Polly (2000). Women and Desire: beyond wanting to be wanted, London: Harmony Books.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Jacoby, Mario (1984). The analytic encounter: transference and human relationship, Toronto, Canada: Inner City Books.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Hopcke, Robert H. (1999). A guided tour of the collected works of C.G. Jung, 2nd, Boston: Shambhala.
  10. Jung, C. G. (1996). The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious.
  11. O'Connor, Jane (2008). The cultural significance of the child star, 1st, New York: Routledge.
  12. Izod, John (2001). Myth, mind and the screen: understanding the heroes of our times, 1st, New York: Cambridge Univ. Pr..
  13. (2001) Therapeutic metaphors for children and the child within, Philadelphia: Brunner/Mazel.

Further reading[edit | edit source]

  • [1992] (1994) Abstracts of the Collected works of C.G. Jung, London: Karnac Books.
  • Kerényi, Karl [1960] (1991). Eleusis : archetypal image of mother and daughter, 1st, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
  • (1951) Introduction to a Science of Mythology: the myth of the Divine Child and the Mysteries of Eleusis.
  • Myss, Caroline (2003). Sacred contracts: awakening your divine potential, 1st, New York: Three Rivers Press.
  • Stevens, Anthony (2006). "The Archetypes" The Handbook of Jungian Psychology : Theory, practice and applications., East Sussex: Routledge.

External links[edit | edit source]

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