Sunday, August 12, 2007

Jung Love Review: Caroline Myss on Archetypes

Myss, Caroline. (1995). Exploring the Archetypes for Life's Lessons: Victim, Prostitute, Saboteur & Child (Audio Cassette). Great Lakes Training Associates.

This four-cassette audio set presents the four archetypes that Myss believes are part of every individual’s components. She also takes an unusual approach by relating these to a structure similar to the houses of astrology. Co-author C. Norman Sheely doesn’t add much to the exploration of archetypes as tools for understanding life’s journey and goes off on what are to me some wild bio-physiological tangents. One of the devices he recommends sounded a lot like putting a tin foil hat on one’s head to keep out the brainwashing of space aliens.

The notion of archetypes derives from the work of Carl Jung, who is not credited by Myss. They are larger than personality and illustrate grand, cross-cultural themes in human life. I am sure that we have encountered someone whom we have identified as playing the role of victim or perhaps someone who inevitably sabotages him- or herself, or others. The archetype of the prostitute is rife in our material culture. The inner child has become quite celebrated in recent years with books obliging us to honor these innocent, creative impulses or to heal the wounding of our abandoned child within.

My experience was uncanny with Myss’s use of experiential houses or aspects of life into which to place our archetypes. She asks us to pick four numbers out of the air, intuitively. As she described the archetypes, I was able to interpret a work experience I was going through to see how I was evidencing the victim, saboteur, and wounded child and what life-stage was represented. As a result, I was able to choose more mature behaviors and see my folly.

Myss is an engaging storyteller with a good sense of humor who fleshes out her ideas with plenty of human interest examples, including self-deprecating anecdotes from her own life. I recommend this set as a good starting place for an exploration of archetypes or Myss’s work.

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