The term Archetype is a word used commonly in the study of psychology and philosophy. Greek philosopher Plato was the first person to come up with the basic principles of Archetype, which he called Forms at the time. Famous psychologist Carlo Jung then picked up Plato’s theory and developed it further; the theory, in his definition, is that an archetype is a mould for one’s personality, and could provide justification for an individual’s pattern of behaviour.
To better understand the meaning of the word, it is wise to begin by looking at its origin. The word archetype first appeared in English in the 1540s, it came from the Latin word archetypum which derived from Greek noun archetupon; after breaking the word apart, it is found that arche means the beginning, and tupos means pattern. As a compound, archetupon means first-moulded.
There are many known archetypes so far, such includes: The Actor, Artist, Prince, Angel, Hermit, and much more. The existence of certain archetypes within an individual may be very obvious, while others may not have been discovered by their owner, yet.
In theory, an individual’s archetypes are part of who he is, and can play valuable roles in the social, mental, physical and spiritual parts of his life. Although Archetypes are ancient and universal models of personality, they can be personalized based on the desires of their owner. Throughout the courses of one’s life, he may make decisions, either consciously or subconsciously, to neglect or build on the characteristics of his archetypes. Everyone has multiple archetypes within them, some more dominate than the others; there are four universal archetypes that are essential and present in everyone: The Child, Victim, Prostitute, and Saboteur. The Child is the characteristics obtained from experiences one has had in childhood; The Victim help people recognize and prevent dangerous events from occurring; the act of betraying one’s morals or selling their integrity for financial gains is considered the act of The Prostitute; and The Saboteur causes self-doubt, but when recognized, it can help one understand their identity.
It may already be apparent, from the examples of archetypes given above, that each and every archetype has both light and shadow manifestations. The dark sides of archetypes are generally what people consider unacceptable or undesirable characteristics. However, these shadow sides only remain threatening when one denies their existence. When these dark manifestations are properly recognized by the owner, they are capable of releasing tremendous power. For example, a Wounded Child may have experienced a painful and abusive past that such individual want to escape from. When one looks pass the pain of their past, the dark aspect of this specific archetype is capable of stimulate a great sense of compassion and desire for one to protect others. It is only when one has truly understood the shadow attributes of their archetype will they be able to stop the self-pitying, the constant blaming of both their parents and themselves.
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"Archetype, n." Oxford English Dictionary. Accessed November 20, 2012. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/ 10344?redirectedFrom=archetype.