Child (archetype) Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_(archetype)

The child archetype is a Jungian archetype, first suggested by psychologist Carl Jung. In more recent years, author Caroline Myss has suggested that the child, out of the four survival archetypes (victim, prostitute, and saboteur), is present in all humans.[clarification needed] According to Myss, its presence ranges from "childish to childlike longing for the innocent, regardless of age" and comprises sub-archetypes: "wounded child", "abandoned or orphan child", "dependent child", "magical/innocent child", "nature child", "divine child", and "eternal child".[1][2][3]


Jung placed the "child" (including the child hero) in a list of archetypes that represent milestones in individuation.[4] Jungians exploring the hero myth have noted that "it represents our efforts to deal with the problem of growing up, aided by the illusion of an eternal fiction".[5] Thus for Jung, "the child is potential future", and the child archetype is a symbol of the developing personality.[6]

Others have warned, however, of the dangers posed to the parents drawn in by the "divine child" archetype – the belief of extraordinary potential in a child.[7]: 106  The child, idealized by parents, eventually nurtures a feeling of superiority.[7]: 118 

Even where affecting less acutely, the child archetype may inhibit psychological maturation and result in an adult who is, in essence, "Mama's darling".[8][9] A man will end up with a strong attachment to a mother figure, either real or symbolic, and will lack the ability to form commitment or be generative.[9] The female version of this, specified as the "puella", will have a corresponding attachment to her father figure.[8]

Retrospective and prospective[edit]

Jung was concerned with the possibility of one's over-identification with their own persona, which would turn an individual into a stereotype born of social expectations and ambition, "unchildlike and artificial".[10] The child archetype becomes of use in this case, strengthening the individual's link to their past[11] by helping them recall childhood experiences and emotions.[12]

In its prospective role, the child archetype is a representation of future potentialities[13] and psychological maturation.[6]

In literature and media[edit]

The child archetype is portrayed in media in various ways. It can take the form of a child who displays adult-like qualities, giving, for example, wise advice to their friends, or vice versa[clarification needed] (like Raymond in the film Rain Man). More generally, "the child star can be conceptualized as a modern manifestation of the ancient archetype of the wonder-child".[11]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Myss, Caroline (2010). "The Four Archetypes of Survival". Archived from the original on 29 May 2012. Retrieved 21 May 2012.
  2. ^ Myss, Caroline (2010). "A Gallery of Archetypes". Archived from the original on 25 May 2012. Retrieved 21 May 2012.
  3. ^ McGurn, Peggy A. (1998). "The Divine Child archetype in Jungian psychological thought and practice". Pacifica Graduate Institute. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help) UMI: 9923263
  4. ^ Jung, Carl (1999). Jacobi, Jolande (ed.). Complex, archetype, symbol in the psychology of C.G. Jung. London: Routledge. pp. 113–4. ISBN 0415209390. translated from German by Ralph Manheim
  5. ^ Paul Radin, quoted in Henderson, Joseph L. (1978). "Ancient Myths and Modern Man". In Jung, Carl Jun (ed.). Man and his Symbols. London. pp. 101–3. ISBN 0307800555.
  6. ^ a b Segal, Robert A. (1999). Theorizing about myth. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press. p. 84. ISBN 1558491910.
  7. ^ a b Young-Eisendrath, Polly (2000). Women and Desire: beyond wanting to be wanted. London: Harmony Books.
  8. ^ a b Jacoby, Mario (1984). The analytic encounter: transference and human relationship. Toronto, Canada: Inner City Books. p. 118. ISBN 0919123147.
  9. ^ a b Hopcke, Robert H. (1999). A guided tour of the collected works of C.G. Jung (2nd ed.). Boston: Shambhala. p. 108. ISBN 1570624054.
  10. ^ Jung, C. G. (1996). The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious. London. p. 162.
  11. ^ a b O'Connor, Jane (2008). The cultural significance of the child star (1st ed.). New York: Routledge. p. 101. ISBN 0415961572.
  12. ^ Izod, John (2001). Myth, mind and the screen: understanding the heroes of our times (1st ed.). New York: Cambridge Univ. Pr. p. 88. ISBN 0521796865.
  13. ^ Crowley, Richard J.; Mills, Joyce C. (2001). Therapeutic metaphors for children and the child within. Philadelphia: Brunner/Mazel. p. 33. ISBN 9781583913703.

Further reading[edit]

  • Rothgeb, Carrie Lee; Clemens, Siegfried M., eds. (1994) [1992]. Abstracts of the Collected works of C.G. Jung. London: Karnac Books. ISBN 978-1-85575-035-7.
  • Kerényi, Karl (1991) [1960]. Eleusis : archetypal image of mother and daughter (1st ed.). Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0691019150.
  • Jung, Carl J.; Kerényi, Karl (1951). Introduction to a Science of Mythology: the myth of the Divine Child and the Mysteries of Eleusis.
  • Myss, Caroline (2003). Sacred contracts: awakening your divine potential (1st ed.). New York: Three Rivers Press. ISBN 978-0-609-81011-8.

External links[edit]