Better understand your attraction to the bad boy

The term bad boy could be seen as a cultural archetype and in the movies James Dean’s 17-year-old character Jim Stark in Rebel Without a Cause would be a bad boy archetype.  A modern Jungian perspective would view an archetype as a primitive mental image inherited from our earliest human ancestors, and is present in the collective unconscious. For Jungians, the collective unconscious is a universal datum. Everyone is endowed with this psychic archetype from birth. It is innate and, therefore, cannot be acquired by conscious effort.

Think of an archetype as the best example of a specific category and Superman as the archetype of a superhero. To discover why you might be attracted to the bad boy read my latest article: better understand your attraction to the bad boy


Where do our inherited qualities come from?

Who are we? Where do get our good and bad qualities from? We can often be asked these types of questions in one form or another from prospective employers or from prospective partners. But we often don’t ask ourselves where we have inherited these qualities from.

We can inherit qualities from a number of sources.

Genetic qualities

These can be the realm of biology and the scientist where presenting issues are explained by a history of generational anxieties.  The dependents of Holocaust survivors might be an example whereby clients carry generational anxieties to do with death and captivity.

Scientists will see addictions from a generational perspective.

Nurture qualities

This is the realm of therapy whereby clients are encouraged to look back into their early life to ascertain early scripts that get evoked.  For instance, we get all sorts of messages from family and early school and we might learn to adapt to cope with these messages.

According to Eric Berne who developed transactional analysis (TA) we acquire a script by age 7. A script is an unconscious life plan based on the power of parental information. There are three types of scripts:

A. Winning scripts: these are positive
B. Losing scripts: these do not serve the person well.
C. Non winning: Not playing to win or to lose.

We, therefore, develop qualities that are to do with nurture. Often it is quite obvious when people have had good parenting.  They can be self accepting and are resilient.

Jonathan Bowlby used the term “Internal Working Models” to describe how young children form mental representations within close relationships. Internal working models are based on the child’s sense of worthiness which is dependent upon other people’s availability and ability and willingness to provide care and protection.

Attachment behaviour is any behaviour designed to get children into a close, protective relationship with their attachment figures whenever they experience anxiety. The child’s instinctual attachment behaviour repertoire includes crying, clinging, sucking, following and smiling.

Addictions could be seen as a response to ambivalent attachment to primary care givers in early life.

Soul qualities

Transpersonal psychotherapists believe in the concept of the innocent soul and the work in therapy is to uncover the true qualities before the soul was impressed by the journey of incarnation.  Qualities, it is argued, can be seen in the young baby when some are naturally very playful. The soul has its own journey and descends down through the planes of consciousness. This is in direct contradiction to the psychoanalytic school which views the neonate as having a blank canvass.

Transpersonal psychotherapists see soul as receptive by nature, it absorbs impressions, takes on impressions, consciousness starts to identify. The soul can shift and take on different shapes. Soul has a wonderful fluidity. It can be dynamic and ever changing. Our minds like to compartmentalise things in our everyday life. When we enter life, we require limitation, (parents, culture, race etc), but soul does not know limitation.

Of course, Adlerian analysts would counter that even young babies can be affected by the birth order and that the qualities can be attributable to these factors. For example, a second child might develop the qualities associated with the need to compete with the first sibling for the attention  of the parents.

Addictions, from a transpersonal perspective,  would be viewed as a loss of soul.

Angelic qualities

Qualities are deeply embedded.  Some speak of divine qualities and that these qualities are evident in the first few months of life before they get overlaid with the challenges in life. But whatever our experiences in life, and they may be harsh, the soul remains innocent. Transpersonal psychotherapists will speak of the innocence before spoiling.

The Sufis say that we are all a hidden treasure longing to be known. So we created the Creation so that we may be known.

Transpersonal psychotherapy is not alone in encompassing spirituality into treatment. Other modalities allow for the spiritual in their therapeutic approach but transpersonal psychotherapy actively involves the spiritual element in the client work. We need, however,  to work with all of these inherited qualities in order to be truly holistic and integrative in our approach. Therefore, we need analytic skills such working with the transference, dealing with resistance and understanding early childhood issues. We also need the empathy and authenticity of the humanist schools as well as the conflict model of TA. Embracing the existential school can also be useful in uncovering issues to do with mid-life crisis.

Transpersonal psychotherapy will go further and investigate the function of archetypes to help and transform our personality and character. The purpose of the spiritual archetypes, for Jung, is to reveal our true nature (soul) nature.

I believe that the real work in therapy is uncovering the story behind the story that the client is bringing. How can I facilitate another human being to manifest their real and positive qualities? I may have all sorts of theories in my head and techniques up my sleeve but these will be redundant if I am not truly conscious in the therapeutic relationship. However, when and indeed how I intervene is what makes psychotherapy an art form.


Transpersonal Psychotherapy – Jungian Approaches to Imaging and Symptoms as Symbols

Jung and Symbolic Language

We are now returning to the more transpersonal focused material on the course.  We had  a strong taster in the first year during a week of creative imagination, which I personally found very powerful and transformative. Perhaps that week, upon reflection, was the foundation of the whole course for we had learned the fundamentals about working with the imagination. 

I have enjoyed the psychoanalytical theory thus far on the course and the existentialist lectures that formed a bridge from psychoanalysis to the transpersonal.  Now we are about to embark on the work of transpersonal authors such as Ken Wilber, and work with the Chakras, the planes of consciousness and the alchemical journey.   But first,  we had a lecture on Jungian approaches to imaging and symptoms as symbols

Symbolic language is the language of the soul. Remember that the shadow is not always negative.  The shadow contains all that is unconscious and might contain a positive quality.  For instance, being able to receive and acknowledge praise from others could be in the shadow as that person might not be able to easily receive compliments.

What does an image stir in you?  This is where advertising agencies have traditionally been particularly clever in targeting consumers with advertisements to sell expensive goods and services. Once you become conscious and discover what the symbol is all about it then will leave your psyche. A repetitive dream means we are not getting the message which our unconscious is sending us. In that case the image or symbol will continue to bang on the door.

Symbols and images can lead us into active imagination. Active imagination is a massive landscape containing all collective unconscious, where archetypes live and it is where Maslow referred to peak experiences.  What defines transpersonal psychotherapy is the defining orientation of the therapist namely that the client is a spiritual being.  Transpersonal psychotherapists share a lot of common ground with therapists from other schools in the way they will reflect back material to the client, mirror to the client, engage in active listening, holding and containing and so on. But the defining difference in transpersonal psychotherapy is the active seeking for the spiritual dimension.

you should be guided by the client.

It is dangerous to interpret symbols and images particularly from dreams.  You should be guided by the client. What do the presenting images and symbols mean to the client? Our job, however, as therapist is to help decode the symbols and messages from the inner world that are manifesting in the physical world. How can I help a particular client secure meaning for a particular symbol or image at this particular stage of their life? Reading a dictionary of images might inform your knowledge on the subject but might also produce the risk that you jump to conclusions.

How to work with the active imagination?

We can explore initially through association and interpretation as clients need insight. We can explore what is happening in the body. The aim is to associate where energies are getting tied up with particular symbols. Can we help clients to reclaim energy that is stifled elsewhere?

Here is an exercise on working with the active imagination. Take some mindful steps to becoming receptive by deep breathing.

1. What is your current main stressors?

2. How does it affect your body?

3. It is like ……?

4. Is there a memory where you felt like this before?

5. If this symptom was a friend what might it say about your life?

Then work with the images that come up. This exercise might help to bypass the defences with a client. Obviously one needs to tread carefully here when dealing with clients who might be experiencing psychotic symptoms.

Additional resources:

Some interesting quotes from the lecture:

Seyyed Hossein Nasr Man does not make symbols, he is transformed by them.

Myth consists of symbols that have not been invented consciously, they have just happened.  Jung

Erich Fromm  All myths have one thing in common; they are all written in same language namely symbolic language.  Symbolic language is a language in which inner experiences, feelings, and thoughts are expressed as if they were sensory experiences. It is a language which has a different logic to the one we speak in the day time. It is a logic in which time and space are not the ruling categories but intensity and association are.


The alchemy of Relationships

Are you in a balanced relationship?  Attraction between two people can be seen through the lens of the elements (air, fire, water and earth) although the shadow can emerge following the get together (which emerges around our limitations).  For instance, you might be a balanced fire type, in that you are confident and direct but perhaps get attracted to a balanced earth type. Your impulsive and potentially destructive qualities are seeking a bond with a big hearted and noble type.  The bonding in a healthy relationship is when you develop the qualities of your partner (the blending of the chemical reactions).  It is these qualities that you are attracted to in the first place.

The ideas and qualities for an ideal relationship:

Air: Listening, explaining, facilitating decisions. The basis of anger is fear.  if anger is met with anger then primitive fears kick in and conflict takes place.  Therefore, it is advisable to give space and slow down.

Fire: Keeping you from getting too serious.  Keeping spirits up, helping with career/goal, maintaining ideals, supporting ideals.

Water: Co-creating family life. Source of love and hugs.  Tune into your emotions.  Appreciating talents. Realise your patience.

Earth: Provides security, sense of belonging, always being there, keeping aligned with purpose.

It is important to remember that all elements exist within us all, but some can be unconscious.  It is from the experiences of entering into relationships that we come to be aware of the unconscious elements within us.  We may project things onto our partners or get irritated by these reactions.

Different stages of love: in terms of experience.  As we mature something within our psychology allows for a greater understanding of love. Love begins in a physical way but can end up in a very sublime (spiritual) love. Carl Jung referred to the anima and animus.   Jung recognised in his clients that all men had an inner female (anima) figure in their dreams and this seemed an important aspect of their psyche and how he related to the feminine.  Jung postulated that the feminine figure in a male represents his soul, not the ultimate representation but a state of a man’s soul.  For women he found that there was a male figure that wished to get expressed in every day life (animus).

Was this a dated idea given the conjugal roles that existed in the 1920s? Perhaps. But Jung came up with some intriguing insights.  Anima and animus are to do with love.  Anima and animus can evolve through four stages, regardless of one’s gender or gender orientation.

Exemplars can come out in dreams as archetypes.  That tells us where we are with our feelings.

1. Passion: You might attract that part of you that you are not in touch with. We project onto other people that particular stage of love.  Tarzan and Jane could be exemplars. This is fiery. If you are out of touch with that part within you the more it regresses. Someone that is very intellectual could fall for a very physical person.  The famous German film Blue Angel demonstrates this when a professor falls for a nightclub hostess.

2. Romantic: This is when emotions start to get involved.  We project romantic feelings onto people.  Cleopatra was a classical exemplar, as was Helen of Troy.  Harrison Ford would be a male version. Love becomes affectionate.

3. Admiration: Standing up for the weak. The ideal transcends their personality and its this that endures.  Exemplars would be MLK, Nelson Mandela and Ghandi. We project outside onto another, we don’t realise its within ourselves.

4. Angelic: To glorify and worship someone. The Goddess within. The Goddess of wisdom.  Two become one.  There is no going back.  Christ, Buddha, Mohamed etc. The culmination of the spiritual path.

What happens when we fall in love?  More soon ………..



“What keeps happening?” – Michael Jacobs

I am in the middle of a weekend course on archetypes. It is fascinating.

Some observations:

The truth will be revealed regardless of the costs.  How?  Through archetypes. Plato wrote about archetypes. Jung was concerned with the psychological, our lived experience. The function of archetypes is to help and transform our personality and character. The purpose of the spiritual archetypes is to reveal our true nature (soul). James Hillman referred to deepest patterns of pyschic functioning. A typical archetype can be a “mother complex”.

See this list for more on Jungian archetypes

Our lecturer alluded to the image of a garden. The personality is what we plant in the garden, the trees and shrubbery etc. How do we become a true reflection of who we are meant to be. Our character is defined by how we tender the garden. We get reminders from people who really know us that we are not being ourselves. What is our dream? Do we sabotage that ideal? Is the soul here for its own joy? Indeed what is soul? (the whole issue of the soul will be a another topic for another day).

How do we manifest that which is within us? Our group work dealt with the physicality of walking. What are we showing in our walking? Air, Fire, water or earth? Can we uncover stuff from creative imagination?

Are we all inherently pure and innocent? Is there evil?

More soon…….

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