Survival Archetypes – Their Role in the Collective/Personal Psyche; and Why You Should Know About Them (Part 2)

“Archetypes are typical modes of apprehension, and wherever we meet with uniform and regularly recurring modes of apprehension we are dealing with an archetype, no matter whether its mythological character is recognised or not.” ~ Carl Jung

VICTIM Archetype: this archetype is all about self-esteem.

It’s not just individuals but whole industries (unscrupulous insurance companies and law firms that spring to mind), that tap into the various victim archetypes’ fears. It’s the demanding of ‘rights’, taken too far. They thrive on a culture of blame and exploitation.

Steve Maraboli - victim mindset

We are all victims. How much we are victims depends on whether we allow the energy to flow through us or hold onto it. There always has to be a villain, someone or something that has done something to you; however the strongest villains are our thoughts, emotions and fears.

I’m ashamed to say, a few years ago I made a bad decision whilst in the Victim Archetype and it proved to be a costly mistake. I was ‘persuaded’ by a company preying on vulnerable people like myself – whilst looking for a solution to a certain predicament – that they were the answer to all my problems. They promised me spectacular results, and in a moment of incredible naivete I actually believed them.  Not only did they fail to deliver (and at this point I buried my head in the sand), they eventually went bankrupt with £3,000 of my money that I could ill afford to lose. It was a hard lesson that I’m still coming to terms with. I almost drove myself mad with ‘if only I’d…’

Lesson: to move from blame to victory.

Victim Types:

  • The Patient – always ill and craving attention, does not take responsibility for healing
  • The Doormat – allows themselves to be used, claims love, support, acceptance and friendship
  • The Prisoner – cannot escape bondage, claims revenge, justice and right to anger.
  • The Hider – hide behind their inadequacies and lack of confidence as an excuse not to do something
  • The Idiot – claim lack of intelligence to avoid responsibility
  • The Accomplice – allow themselves to be manipulated, claims leniency, ability to blame others
  • The Long Sufferer – always complaining, wants sympathy, attention and support
  • The Robot – victim to past patterns and programming ‘that’s the way I’ve always done it’, can become disconnected, judgmental and superior
  • The Weakling – overwhelmed, feels helpless, suffers from inaction and confusion, claims rescue and help
  • The User – concerned with scarcity, it’s all down to money, have to get it as cheap as possible, deficiency, dishonesty/theft. Claims charity and handouts
  • The Righteous Victim – must endure trials and tribulations, afflictions and misfortunes; can be puritanical, it’s their lot to have a hard life. Crave respect, rewards, fame, adulation and compliments.


Watch out for phrases such as: You don’t respect me, I don’t have boundaries, I don’t have a choice, it’s not my fault, it’s always my fault, I don’t want to be hurt, (but consciously deciding not to be hurt by a partner for instance is OK). No-one understands me, this always happens to me…

Dalai lama - suffering

Recognising Victim behaviour

In the victim archetype we get something from the juice of suffering. It can manifest as the need for constant distraction, blaming yourself and others, playing the hermit, either withdrawal, or cannot bear to be alone. Living in the past/future. All forms of addiction are rooted in the Victim Archetype.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Sometimes we have to go to rock bottom (I can attest to that), before we can move on.

An immensely helpful talk on anger, fear and resistance by Dr. David R Hawkins:

“We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.” ~ Carl Jung

SABOTEUR Archetype: betrayal and choice is at the crux of this archetype.

It embodies the fear of change, resistance of our personal truth, shying away from personal opportunities, fear of taking responsibility for ourselves and what we create. That’s why we project onto others what we don’t want to face.

Lesson: to become courageous, develop instinct and intuition.

To overcome the challenges of this archetype we must learn to balance the three parts of our brains:

  • Reptilian brain – listen to gut instinct
  • Limbic brain – emotional centre, represents feelings
  • Rational brain – analysis and rational thought

We must allow hunches to be accepted by the rational brain which gives us the choice to respond to them. In some ways this is the hardest of the survival archetypes to master, because it challenges us with different ways to undermine and betray ourselves.


This manifests through self-destructive behaviour. Creates the desire to undermine others to avoid facing our own failures.

An everyday example of this is if someone pays us a compliment, but instead of responding with a “thank you” we deflect those kind words and sabotage our self-esteem/respect. That resistance stops us from moving into the best we can be.


Do you ever hear yourself or others say: I don’t know what to do, I’ll do it tomorrow, I’ll wait until…, I know what I should do but…, if only…?

Recognising Saboteur behaviour

Setting new plans in motion only to end up undermining them. Beginning a new relationship and then ending it because you begin to imagine a painful outcome. Starting the day with a positive intention e.g. around food – and giving in to temptation by lunch. I better do away with my secret stash of chocolate!

Ignoring your inner voice out of fear of what others will think (peer/societal pressure). Resisting opportunities to expand and develop yourself. Making excuses as to why you can’t do something you feel “called” to do. Feeling paralysed about making a decision because your world will change if you do. Being a coward.


If we can act with courage and intuition and believe that we can make a difference to the world we can follow new paths and opportunities creating a life of adventure and wonderment.

PROSTITUTE Archetype:  this powerful archetype helps us to develop faith, self-respect and integrity.

We tend to think of the ‘prostitute’ in the usual negative cultural sense, but in broader terms it means selling either our integrity, ideas, body or soul for survival. We compromise morals and ethics for financial gain. Those who have succumbed to bribery and corruption are caught up in this archetype. Whole governments and organisations are stuck here to the detriment of their citizens and people.

The film Indecent Proposal highlights a perfect example of this, in terms of the characters played by Woody Harrelson and Demi Moore selling out their marriage for money.

It is a misuse of talents or any other expression of the Self as well as seduction for power, money and control.

Lesson: the development of soul qualities.

Through this powerful archetype we develop honesty, integrity and qualities of the soul such as faith and truth.


I will if you will…, what would you like me to do? How much is it worth? What will you give me in return?

Recognising Prostitute behaviour

Remaining in a relationship or job purely for financial protection, selling out to people or organisations that you don’t like or believe in, compromising other people in order to gain power over them (e.g. the Mafia, dictatorships), buying someone’s loyalty or support or silence to have your way, not being able to say no, or thinking yourself better than others.

This scene from the Godfather highlights the Prostitute Archetype perfectly:

For those who’ve seen the movie, you know what’s coming…a later scene showing the Hollywood producer receiving the ‘offer he can’t refuse’ is really shocking, no matter how many times you watch it!

We have won when we are strong enough to say no to anything/anyone that would compromise the whole of who we are.

There is no right and wrong with any of these archetypes, it just a question of awareness. I can recognise many of my past (and some current challenges) in these archetypes at one time or another.

Robin Sharma

My call to action this week is to observe when you find yourself resisting something and look at what archetype you may be unconsciously stuck in. NEVER make a decision when you are in one of your archetypes; only when you are truly yourself.

This is a massive subject, and I’ll tackle the other twelve main archetypes in a later post.

 “Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” ~ Carl Jung

Survival Archetypes – Their Role in the Collective/Personal Psyche; and Why You Should Know About Them (Part 1)

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to a better understanding of ourselves.” ~ Carl Jung

I’m a beginner in the field of psychoanalysis, but as a writer I’m immensely curious about people and I wanted to provoke some ideas, thoughts and reflections in you that have recently been stimulated in me; thanks to a wonderful lady who is helping me to understand more about myself and others.archetypes - Jung

I hope that by the end of this blog the next time someone ‘pushes all your buttons’, you will be able to step back and witness your reaction and perhaps understand the unconscious behaviour they are exhibiting which is exactly the ‘shadow’ part of yourself that you have been resisting.

Working on ourselves is the only answer, we cannot change another – EVERYTHING comes from within.

In any given relationship between two people there are multiple personalities at work – no wonder life gets so…interesting!

Light and shadow

There are four survival archetypes that everyone on the planet shares: CHILD, VICTIM, SABOTEUR and PROSTITUTE. There are another twelve predominant archetypes that many of us will work through in our lifetime, but beyond that they are probably limitless. I’ll explore the Child Archetype more closely in this post, and the Victim, Saboteur and Prostitute archetypes in part 2.

It’s important to note that the archetypes themselves are impersonal; each contains an element of light; what we know, the positive aspects of that archetype, and an element of shadow; the perceived darker part that we don’t acknowledge, know about or integrate. The point is there is light and shadow in each of us.

Wonderful talk by Alan Watts about Carl Jung on accepting the darkness of Self and others:

Being aware of what we don’t want to look at and are resisting in ourselves absolves us from judging others; we learn to observe, rather than react to the unconscious behaviour they are mired in. The moment someone offends us it means we have gone into an archetype.

As our understanding grows, we ‘see’ how we have ‘acted out’ in the past when confronted by other people’s archetypes, as well as dealing with our own!

Insight and hindsight can bless us with foresight…

“Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.” ~ Carl Jung

Conscious and Unconscious mind

The Conscious and Unconscious mind has been compared to an iceberg: what we see above the surface (conscious mind), is but a fraction of what lies beneath it (unconscious). Ninety five percent of our thoughts and actions stem from the Unconscious. When we think and act consciously were are responding, but when we act beneath our conscious level we are reacting, and we react according to the archetypes that we have failed to integrate. Patterns become the foundation for our personality.

Dominant Archetypes

Dominant Archetypes

Archetypes are the language of the Unconscious. When we aren’t aware of why we’re doing something the archetype takes over and transparent beliefs and holding patterns drive us. Like a robot we operate on our default behavioural settings.

“There is no coming to consciousness without pain.” ~ Carl Jung.

Collective Unconscious  

According to Jung, the Collective Unconscious is the sum of all human experience from the beginning of time. Therefore, whatever happens to an individual, group or nation also affects us as a species. We are not separate from the recent disaster in Mecca or the unfolding humanitarian crisis in the Middle East, or to the suffering stemming from trauma, past and present. It all goes into the primordial ‘shared’ mind and we all draw from it.

Fairy tales and literature

Hamlet & Ophelia by Dante Gabriel Rossetti c. 1866

Hamlet & Ophelia by Dante Gabriel Rossetti c. 1866

There’s a reason that fairy tales are so prevalent in Western Culture (and the habit of passing on stories in other cultures), because they help children to understand themselves.  Characters such as Peter Pan, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, the Wicked Step Mother, the Prince, the Free Spirit, the Damsel in Distress, along with iconic archetypes penned by Shakespeare and modern tales/films such as Lord of the Rings and Star Wars filled with heroes, villains, sages and mentors, all of which we can relate to as they exist at the substrate of our psyches.

Our task for our time on Earth is to understand these fundamental human questions:

  • Who am I?
  • Why am I here?
  • What am I supposed to be doing?


There are two types of power: control over others and internal power (when we move from ego into soul power). Our spiritual task is to master personal power. We see the legacy of misery and suffering that exists in the world when individuals and groups seek to wield power over others. Personal power requires us to live with integrity, self-respect and self-belief so that in expressing our truth we can benefit others.

In order to do this we must integrate all parts of ourselves, the light and shadow. Free-will and choice are inherent to the Conscious mind and allow us to respond rather than react.

As James Hillman comments, Archetypal Psychology focuses on the soul and the intrinsic patterns that shape our psychological development “the fundamental fantasies that animate all life”.

Wonderful lecture from Dr. James Hillman about myths and archetypes:

The four survival archetypes common to all of us

CHILD Archetype: represents innocence and sets up our perceptions of life. The themes are safety, loyalty and family.

Lesson: to move from dependency to responsibility.

Within this archetype there are five categories:

Orphan Child

Harry PotterLight – Usually features heavily in children’s stories. Don’t feel part of the family, have a fear of being alone and probably had to develop independence early in life. Constructs an inner reality based on judgement and personal experience. The orphan represents the fear of surviving alone in the world.

Shadow – An inability to grow up. Suffer from feelings of abandonment. Does not develop independence and needs a tribal union, e.g. joining unsuitable groups.

Wounded Child

Light – Have been abused, neglected or suffered trauma and are likely to invite dysfunctional relationships. Usually compassionate towards others (life’s future therapists). It’s the path to forgiveness.

Shadow – An abiding sense of self-pity, a tendency to blame parents and resistance to moving on through forgiveness.

Magical/Innocent Child

Light – Believes that everything is beautiful; the part of us that is enchanted and enchanting to others.  Ann Frank was a great example of this archetype. She embodied the qualities of wisdom and courage in the face of overwhelming difficulties. Demonstrate the power of imagination and the belief that anything is possible.

Shadow – Retreating into fantasy. Depression and pessimism arises when dreams are thought foolish by adults. Miracles are no longer possible.

Nature Child

Light – Loves to be outdoors, can balance tender, emotional qualities with inner toughness and the ability to survive. Has a great communication and rapport with animals.

Shadow – Cruelty to animals and disregard for nature, such as the destruction of the rainforest.

Eternal Child

Light – Determined to remain young in mind, body and spirit.

Shadow – Refusal to grow up and embrace adult responsibility e.g. Peter Pan. Become dependent on others for physical security, inability to accept the ageing process. Joan Rivers at least made us laugh about this aspect of the archetype! Plastic surgeons cater to this group…


If you catch yourself saying, or hear anyone saying these phrases (or variations of) you know that you/they are operating in CHILD:

It’s not Fair! Nobody loves me, I don’t deserve it…

Recognising Child behaviour

Wanting to be pitied, self-pity, pouting, child-like stance, avoiding eye contact, always wanting to be the centre of attention, refusal to take responsibility and wanting someone else to undertake a task you are perfectly capable of doing.

“The debt we owe to the play of imagination is incalculable.” ~ Carl Jung