Friday, July 29, 2016

Carol Pearson's 12 Archetypes and their Moral Premise Statements

 Carol S Pearson, Ph.D. continues her contribution to human psychology and story telling structure in her 2015 book "Awakening the Heroes Within: 12 Archetypes to Help Us Find Ourselves and Transform Our World."  Somewhere in my library I have her earlier work, "TheHero Within: Six Archetypes We Live By."  The 12 Archetypes project... is a further development of the 6 Archetypes effort. Both valuable...for storytellers.

While she gives credit to the seminal work of Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung for her understanding of the human condition, it's interesting that her suggested 7 uses for her 12 Archetypes book includes clinical psychological diagnostic interventions (et al) but does not include those of us in the story telling industry. But then, as we writers know, we are very much a part of the psychological diagnostic intervention business...not just for our characters, but for the audiences that identify with our characters.

Light and Shadows
Pearson does a great job of articulating each of the 12 Archetypes as both positive and negative forces in a character's life. Here's a quick summary. You will see the clear connection to the moral premise statement's virtue and vice (strength/weakness) dipoles that control motivations and drive action.

Archetype Strength [Archetype Shadow]

  1. INNOCENT [Denial of reality]
  2. ORPHAN [Irresponsibility]
  3. WARRIOR [Compromised Principles]
  4. CAREGIVER [Guilt Manipulation]
  5. SEEKER [Commitment Avoidance]
  6. DESTROYER [Addictive compulsions]
  7. LOVER [Seductive sirens]
  8. CREATOR [Obsessive distraction]
  9. RULER [Tyrant]
  10. MAGICIAN [Evil Sorcerer]
  11. SAGE [Heartless judge]
  12. FOOL [Without dignity or self-control]
[Update 9/2/16] The above list is a bit "innocent" and does not clarify the Archetype Strength. The confusion lies in the common understandings of some of the terms. For instance, "Destroyer" and "Creator" are commonly thought of as opposites. But here they are on the same team. So let's try this:

InnocentAbandonmentFidelity/Trust/OptimismDenial Reality/Seek Rescue
OrphanExploitationProcess pain/InterdependenceIrresponsibility
WarriorWeaknessFight what matters/Courage/DisciplineCompromised Principles
CaregiverSelfishnessGive to others/Compassion/GenerosityGuilt Manipulation
SeekerConformityBe true to self/Autonomy/AmbitionCommitment Avoidance
LoverLoss of LoveFollow your bliss/Passion/CommitmentSeductive Sirens
DestroyerAnnihilationAbility to let go/HumilityAddictive Compulsions
CreatorInauthenticitySelf-acceptance/Individuality/CallingObsessive Distractions
RulerChaosTake responsibility/Control/OrderTyrant
MagicianEvil SorceryAlign with Cosmos/Personal PowerEvil Sorcerer
SageDeceptionEnlightenment/Wisdom/NonattachmentHeartless Judge
FoolNonalivenessTrust process/Joy/FreedomWithout dignity/No Self Control

Heroic Myth Index
The depth of her research into her understanding of the personal human journeys is an extrapolation of Campbell and Jung, of course, but also of the Myers-Briggs Type theory...from which she's developed her Heroic Myth Index (HMI)...which is included in the Appendix of the 12 Archetypes.
While Pearson intends the HMI as an exercise to helping the reader in self-evaluation, we fiction writers and story creators will also see its immediate value in fiction character development.

Orphan, Wanderer, Warrior, Martyr
As in her earlier work (The Hero Within), much of her system is directly applicable to story creation such as how four of her archetypes (Orphan, Wanderer, Warrior, Martyr) directly correspond to the four equal divisions of a traditional screenplay: Act 1, Act 2A, Act 2B, and Act 3.   Jeffrey Alan Schechter brought this to my attention in MY STORY CAN BEAT UP YOUR STORY and I incorporated it into the Story Diamond...which is discussed in my Storycraft Training Series and accessible on The Moral Premise's main Writing Aids page. 

Moral Premise Statements
But what I want to focus on in this blog post is the reworking of a table that appears early in her 12 Archetypes and give the table a moral premise practicality. This can be done easily with the above  table of Archetypes and their Shadows. But Pearson goes further, although it's a bit uneven, which forces me to attempt a leveling. (I'll not reference her book, forcing you to buy it. It's well worth the read.)

In constructing the following moral premise statements 
I have NOT carefully considered their universal truth. 
A proper and effective moral premise statement must be universally true. 

Imagine each of these archetypes as a best descriptor for your protagonist. As Pearson explains,     each archetype is tempted by virtues and vices (i.e. strengths and weaknesses) to motivate their actions. Her book, of course, goes into more detail.

Denying danger leads to abandonment, but
Discerning danger leads to safety.
False Optimism (misplaced trust) leads to abandonment, but
Fidelity to reality leads to safety

Ignoring reality and embracing victimization and pain leads to exploitation; but
Facing reality and taking responsibility for pain leads to safety.
Battling everything in our path leads to loss and weakness; but
Having discipline to battle what matters leads to winning and strength.
Coarse selfishness leads to puts one's self in harms way, but
Generous compassion leads to care for others in harms way. 
Reckless conformity to the status quo leads to a false self-respect and unhappiness, but
Autonomous initiative leads to a deeper self actualization and a better life. 
Fear of commitment leads to loss of love, but
Pursuit of your passion leads to bliss. 
Draconian arrogance leads to annihilation; but
Humility leads to metamorphosis.
Stifling our natural creativity leads to inauthenticity, but
Cultivating our natural creativity leads to vocation.
Autocratic recklessness leads to chaos and disorder, but
Autocratic consideration leads to order and structure.
Ignoring the cosmos* leads to evil sorcery, but
Alignment with the cosmos* leads to righteous transformation.
(* natural law)
Material attachment leads to dark deception, but
Transcendence leads to enlightened truth.

Playing tricks on reality leads to walking deadness (non-aliveness), but
Letting reality playing tricks on us leads enjoyment, joy and freedom. 

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