Archetypes and the Internal Saboteur
In simple terms an archetype is a set pattern of behavior.
Archetypes reside in the realm of the unconscious, which is why we are not consciously aware of them. However, they are the secret forces behind our human behavior.
Archetypes influence and direct everything we think, feel, and do, and influence everyone around us. When we experience an emotion, it is the emotion of an archetype.
Jung referred to an archetype as “primordial images” and the “fundamental units of the human mind.” When we get triggered, or activated, it initiates a pattern of behavior very much like running a software program on your computer. These patterns are unconscious, but also pre-existing, so archetypes are also predictable. When you think of an archetype, think… a set patterns of behavior shared by all of humanity
“Archetypes are the living system of reactions and aptitudes that determine the individual’s life in invisible ways.” Jung “The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche
Marie-Louise von Franz stated in her book Archetypal Dimensions of the Psyche
, “archetypes are inherited dispositions, which cause us to react in a typical way to basic human problems, inner or outer.” You can learn the patterns that influence most of our human behavior. We need to learn to sit with archetypes and develop a relationship with them.
The word “archetypal” is an elegant synonym for the word “typical.” Jung believed the psyche was comprised of an innumerable number of archetypes. Jung stated, “There are as many archetypes as there are typical situations in life” (1936, CW
9,1: par. 99). However, these typical situations are not necessarily universal. Situations in life are only more or less typical. There is a continuum of typicality, with unique experiences at one extreme and universal experiences at the other extreme.
Psychoanalysis addresses how individuals sabotage themselves. Everyone is their own self-saboteur, and psychoanalysis enables us to become more acquainted and conscious of how we, and how archetypes, sabotage our life. The internal saboteur is an exquisitely exact image that provides a precise description of the process by which the ego represses information and experiences, more specifically, sabotages what the unconscious attempts to express or voice.
The idea of an “internal saboteur” is somewhat poetic, however, it is much more vivid, vital, and evocative than the concept suggests. Jung introduced into the field of psychoanalyses the terms “introversion” and “extraversion.” Sabotage itself is “subversion.” To subvert something means to undermine or destroy a system of being. To this point the unconscious is an “under conscious.” The unconscious is under the ego and attempts to overturn the ego. From the perspective of the ego, the unconscious is subversive. It is no wonder the ego is always so anxious and defensive. In a very real sense, the unconscious is a saboteur, since it attempts to sabotage, or subvert, the what the ego desires or how the ego wants things to go.
Psyche doesn’t know if the ego sabotages the unconscious, or if the unconscious sabotages the ego. Truth be told it is the ego that is the internal saboteur, and it is the go that sabotages the unconscious. In other words, the ego represses what object relations psychoanalysts call “objects”, or what Jungian psychoanalysts call “images.” To the anxious and defensive ego, objects or images are the internal saboteurs. When you can observe an archetype operating within you, you have differentiated (separated yourself) from the archetype. Differentiation is important because when you can separate yourself from an archetype, it is less likely to influence your behavior in adverse ways.
From Jung’s perspective archetypes are living entities that reside in our soul. They are live entities within us that direct our life underneath the veil, or radar so to speak. Jung described archetypes as the images that occur all over the earth. These images find their way into ancient religions, myths, legends, and fairy tales. We find evidence of archetypes in our dreams, fantasies, and of course in our behavior. Every character in both our personal dreams and collective myths is an archetype. We can observe archetypes in the characters of the stories we read, the films we watch, and the plays we attend.
Taking the time to become more aware of how various archetypes influence our behavior, and our life can be very powerful transformational tools. Clarity and understanding surrounding archetypes allow us to see adverse behavior and character defects from a different perspective. This is the first step toward changing our behavior and ridding oneself of the internal saboteur.