Your Better Self > Our Primal Quests > Unravelling the Quests > Not «Archetypes»

Archetypes ≠ Primal Quests

Myth and Jung

Archetypes, popularized by Carl JungJung, C.G. (1964). Man and His Symbols, New York; Doubleday and Company, Inc. but widely recognized, are imagined models of an aspect of a person. Myths contain such models because a core purpose in their original setting was to socialize people. These models reveal a mix of attitudes, experiences and behaviours. Jung regarded archetypes as existing solely in the personal and collective unconscious, and impossible to comprehend or to perceive directly.

However, archetypes have effects and (it is claimed) they can be recognized and interpreted usefully via a person's emotions, fantasies and actions. Archetype-based interpretations may well have value. However, this type of model is a theory that is used to explain a person's experience. Many self-help booksClosed create a bunch of archetypes with names that resonate, and then invite you to understand whatever concerns you in those terms. The main benefit would seem to be helping you objectify your experience. By creating a distance between your new archetype-led awareness and your current experiences, you are helped to analyse and act constructively on your psychosocial reality.



Primal Quests are not archetypes, but rather the system that organizes your life activities. Your life does not require explanations via plausible theories. Cares and duties in making a living may interfere with Primal Quest pursuit. However, in later life, you may be able to devote yourself more to your chosen Quest.

It is rather easy to trot out an archetype, but it may be difficult to discern your Primal Quest—except in retrospect, or through discussion and perhaps after many years of life-defining choices. You may not even wish to know. Social norms and the daily grind may have suppressed aspects of what is most important for you. You will surely benefit if these aspects of yourself are accepted and integrated.

Feature Primal Quests Archetypes
Nature Observable Theoretical
Existence Actualized in a life. Imagined in a theory.
Form Category within THEE Explanatory hypothesis
Number Just 7 An indefinite number
Awareness Direct awareness is possible (even if difficult sometimes). Unconscious, so only deduced indirectly e.g. via dream images.
Access Personal awareness, acknowledgement and acceptance. Interpretation of your experiences by others who know the archetypes and relevant theory.
Practical Usefulness
Pursued as part of a deep sense that it is what makes your life-as-a-whole happy and meaningful. May provide a satisfying account of certain persistent or disturbing experiences; or be activated to develop certain attitudes or to enable a particular desired outcome.
Theoretical Value Links to our personal endeavours and other frameworks relevant to managing your existence. Links to universal symbols and commonalities found in the myths that sustain different cultures.

Originally posted: 18-May-2012

All posted material is part of a scientific project and should be regarded as provisional. Visitors are encouraged to think through the topics and propositions for themselves. Copyright © Warren Kinston 2009-2016.
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