The word ‘archetype’ comes from the Greek ‘arkhetypos’ which means ‘first imprint’. The philosopher Plato first brought forth the idea of archetypes in his ‘Theory of Forms’. This theory functioned to bring light to the question of the material (object, changeable) world and the transcendent (form, unchanging). For example an apple (object) may be described as round, red and firm (forms) and it is these forms that describe the material object. The forms transcend the object and remain constant in and of themselves, while the object is changeable.
Swiss Psychiatrist Carl Jung pioneered the use of archetypes to illuminate personality early in the 20th century. He suggested the existence of universal content-less forms that channel experiences and emotions, resulting in recognizable and typical patterns of behavior with certain probable outcomes.
New York Times Best Selling Author and scholar Caroline Myss began lecturing on archetypes in 1996 and then went on to author ‘Sacred Contracts -Awakening Your Divine Potential’ in 2001. Sacred Contracts posited that we
each have 12 core archetypes that form our contract or purpose in life. This became the basis for archetypal study at the CMED Institute in Chicago and resulted in a program to train individuals as Archetypal Consultants.
Further inquiry: Numerous philosophers, scholars and professionals in the field psychology have worked with and expanded upon Jungian ideas. Joseph Campbell, Robert A. Johnson, Jean Shinoda Bolen, Clarissa Pinkola-Estes, Marion Woodman, James Hillman and Richard Tarnas are all respected and boundary breaking authors whose books I recommend if you are interested in further reading on archetypes.
“We grow primarily through our challenges, especially those life-changing moments when we begin to recognize aspects of our nature that make us different from the family and culture in which we have been raised.”
~ Caroline Myss