My wish for you over this coming quarter? I wish you Spring, inside as well as outside. March 20th was the spring equinox, the day in which the light and dark are balanced, leading toward sunnier, warmer days and, metaphorically, a time of hope. Our very earth models the process of renewal and fecundity. Easter bunnies and eggs (holdovers from ancient fertility religions) remind us to celebrate sex, birth, growth, death, and rebirth, as Passover and Easter both provide us with ways of dealing with unhappiness: when oppressed or just unhappy, seek something better or change your consciousness. A lot of Americans now are dissatisfied, and most of us are deeply concerned about Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and the suffering of the Ukrainians as well as the impact of this and other such wars on our futures. Our political parties have, in the main, come together to support Ukraine, but the war nevertheless is still on. (See the In the Blogosphere section below for my thoughts about how Americans might unify.)
Many of us, as individuals, are seeking escape from crisis after crisis, as we also do what we can to help while searching for what calls to us moving forward that keeps hope alive. I started by noticing guilty pleasures,or just slightly embarrassing things I am reading, listening to, or watching, as important clues to what archetypes may be calling to you. Here are two examples from my escape viewing that you might find fun to try. I notice that concern for the people of Ukraine, and for where this war could be heading, is triggering my amygdala fear response. This might partly explain why I’ve been attracted to a nostalgic Hallmark series, “Sweet Magnolias,” that I stumbled over on Netflix—a story about three women friends.
This show is pure Lover archetype—three best friends who have been supportive of each other since they were children, with their various love interests, work intrigues, and family dramas, set in a small town where the major characters try to practice kindness and forgiveness in everyday living. And, it has a racially diverse caste, with positive LGBTQ characters, all facing contemporary family and work issues.
Watching it makes me feel nostalgic for when I was a child with very loving parents who taught me the value of kindness and to refrain from judging others, and with my two best friends, Susan and Mary Jane, residing in a neighborhood that might as well have been a small town, at a time when traditional values reigned. Yet we lived in a segregated city, in a working-class white neighborhood, women’s roles were limited, and not every problem worked out the way it does in a situation comedy.
Somehow, I feel comforted by this show, which edits the reality of my neighborhood, updating it with contemporary attitudes important to me. My virtual escape into the fictional lives of the main characters helps me understand those today whose politics are influenced by a desire to return to a romanticized, nostalgic view of the past. It also helps me to appreciate the fact that I live on the outskirts of a very diverse, progressive town (Columbia, MD) where the Lover archetype prevails in my life, with David, with all my children and grandchildren nearby, with longtime friends in the larger Washington, DC area, and with my continuing ability to do the work I love. So, I have what I loved about that show in my real life. Good to actually notice.
Over the past few years, friends have turned me on to “Outlander,” the TV adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s novels, which has a great love story (Lover) and involves time travel through which the viewer (or reader) learns a great deal about 18th century history. Claire, the heroine, quickly sizes up each time period and the mores of the various countries she’s in, so that she can use her medical training to help people without their turning on her.
I was a history minor in college, so I love imaginatively living in different times, yet what most called to me in the show is a desire to have Claire’s (Magician) ability to adapt and offer help in ways that can be received in her here and now. The time travel theme also gave me insight into why Americans are so divided among ourselves, as well as why we get blindsided by unanticipated events: Humans are not all living in the same time period. Consider retrograde figures mentally living in the past, like those still trapped in resistance to past defeats like the Civil War or the collapse of the Soviet Union. Closer to home, I admire my youngest granddaughter’s ease with technology, and her sweet tolerance of my growing ineptitude as I struggle to keep up with the next required new thing.
If you decide to try out this approach to your books or shows, I’d love to know what archetypes are calling you and anything your escape into stories is telling you about yourself or the issues on your mind.
Houston Jung Center Postponement
My lecture and workshop for the Jung Center of Houston, originally scheduled for March, have been postponed, likely until summer. I hope to have more details in my next newsletter, but you also can check the Events page on my website for any updates.
Mepkin Abby Lecture and Retreat
I am looking forward to offering a lecture and retreat at the Mepkin Abby St.Francis Retreat Center, located in Cooper River, South Carolina, north of Charleston, on May 20th-22nd, 2022. Participants will be able to join onsite or by Zoom. Here is the workshop description:
The Power of Story in Human Development and Spiritual Maturation
What if you could identify the stories you were thinking, telling, and enacting? What if you could, then, discover whether they would lead to happy, boring, or tragic endings and even reframe them for more consistently positive results? And, what if your life stories and your daily actions more consistently expressed the best of who you are—your authentic self—thus transforming your experiences and outcomes? How much more fulfilling and successful your life could be!
This workshop is based on Carol’s book, What Stories Are You Living?, which is a primer about her 12-archetype system for developing narrative intelligence (NQ) to accomplish these ends. Also included are insights from Carol’s interfaith doctoral studies to assist you in exploring stories that can foster your spiritual growth in a manner authentic to you.
The lecture will take place on Friday, May 20th, from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. The initial workshop sessions will be on Saturday, May 21st, from 10:00 am to noon and 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm. These sessions are available for both in-person and Zoom participants. There are two additional sessions for those physically present. For maximum results, you may choose to take the Pearson-Marr Archetype Indicator® instrument, which assesses the stories you are living for a modest fee. It is available from the publisher at www.StoryWell.com.
Details, including fees, will be forthcoming. I share this now so that those interested can join the waiting list. To do so, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Further information on registration for the lecture and retreat will be posted on my Events page as it becomes available.
New Feature: Story Well Articles by Kesstan Blandin, Ph.D.
I’m happy to introduce a new feature of my newsletter, a quarterly article written by Kesstan Blandin, the Vice President of the Center for Applications of Psychological Type (CAPT), the publisher of the PMAI® instrument. In that role, Kesstan is the editor of StoryWell.com, the official website of the PMAI®. She also teaches at Pacifica Graduate Institute. Here is her first article:
Even after working with the Pearson-Marr Archetype Indicator® (PMAI®) assessment and system for seven years, it still stuns me how many people do not know that the 12 archetypes originated from Carol Pearson’s scholarship. Google “Jungian archetypes” and you’ll find them everywhere, but most often without reference to Carol. In December, I wrote an article entitled "The Roots of the Pearson-Marr Archetypes", which you can find here: StoryWell -The Roots of the Pearson-Marr Archetypes. Share it with your circle of friends and colleagues and help us spread the word.
In the new year, we highlighted articles on archetypal branding written by Carol and Margaret Mark, her co-author of The Hero and the Outlaw: Building Extraordinary Brands Through the Power of Archetypes (2001). How Carol and Margaret came together to write the bible on using archetypes in branding is a great story because it is driven by the desire to bring meaning and substance to organizations and the field of advertising. Whether you are involved in branding or not, you will love the peek inside the business of creating iconic brands that these two powerhouses provide in their articles: StoryWell: Authentic Archetypal Branding and StoryWell: Archetypes, Brands, and the Quest for Meaning. This month, StoryWell offers an article on how the PMAI® archetypes affect and transform our personalities, as well as how archetypes reveal deeper information about us. We discuss an experience with a colleague who took the PMAI® instrument for the first time, found a surprise, and connected it to self-growth through her MBTI psychological type. You can find the March article here: StoryWell - How Archetypes Transform Personality.
I’ve fallen in love with Barbara Mossberg’s new book of poems Here for the Present: A Grammar of Happiness in the Present Imperfect. In fact, it is perfect for this moment in time. Covid cases are lessening and we are out and about more, yet the proliferation of spin and fake news has disconnected us from the safety of a collective sense of reality. What unites us all is a shared craving for the experience of REAL. Poetry is the language of the soul, especially when also laced with a gentle wit. Barbara’s book exemplifies living consciously, being fully engaged in life, humbly revealing truths often not discussed, and doing all this with a sprinkle of humor.
In the spirit of full disclosure, Barbara is a dear friend of mine, and one of my models for a person who knows how to be fully alive. I recently bought numerous copies of this book as gifts for very close women friends, perhaps because I was particularly drawn to poems that overtly reflect a female perspective and a woman’s experience. I loved the wisdom laced with humor expressed in the ones about making a lemon meringue pie, wearing an inappropriate dress, or being in a dance class where “the woman in the mirror is not me.” Then there was the poem about the woman who goes out alone on a boat to see the sunset and ends up stranded, freezing, for 15 hours until someone finds her. I cried with recognition at the end because I knew why she would have escaped out onto the water without the poem telling me. In my mind, most other women, and most men, would, too.
In the Blogosphere
This winter I began posting a series of blogs that offer an archetypal analysis of the issues currently confronting— and dividing—the United States. My goal in undertaking this project is to identify the archetypal stories that are active in the country, in both their positive and negative aspects, and in so doing point the way to a narrative path that can restore a sense of national unity. I believe that we can achieve this, not by papering over the matters on which we disagree, but by gaining a common understanding of the values embedded in the stories that constitute our national mythology. If you believe any of these are helpful, pass them on, especially to anyone who could utilize these ideas in public discourse or public policy considerations.
In the introductory blog of the series, “What Stories Is America Living? An Archetypal Analysis,” I note that understanding these stories “can reveal the deeper motivations of the groups within the divide—archetypes that could reunite us as well as unconscious, shadowy ones that, like monsters from the deep, could drag us down together.” Archetypal narratives are at work in both individuals and cultures, but they are not necessarily consistent. Thus, for example, a positive expression of the Warrior archetype that focuses on how our nation has defended freedom in two world wars can devolve into a negative manifestation of the archetype that elevates individual freedom above all other communal interests.
While “America’s mythology tips its hat to our Warrior strengths, . . . it more consistently emphasizes qualities of our strong Seeker and Lover archetypes. ”The second blog in the series, “Branding America: A Pioneering Nation and People,” explores how the Seeker archetype has been at the core of the story the U.S. historically has told of itself. In doing so, it applies Margaret Mark’s and my work on authentic archetypal branding (described in The Hero and the Outlaw: Building Extraordinary Brands Through the Power of Archetypes).
In this blog, I observe that “The Seeker archetype is about leaving the known world to journey into the unknown to realize a desire or a dream, as our founders and immigrants did earlier in our history, and those since still do. ”And while many Americans throughout our history “have been devalued and their options limited by traditional and oppressive roles and laws,” it is the same Seeker impulse that has informed the Civil Rights Movement and other subsequent movements that have expanded the notion of liberty and equality of opportunity that have made the U.S. a more equal, though still imperfect, society.
Yet, the Seeker has a shadow side, which has led too many Americans “to avoid interdependence as a way to preserve independence. Along with other factors, the resulting self-involvement has produced an epidemic of loneliness, reinforced by a pandemic, and behaviors that illustrate the Seeker shadow of flagrant selfishness and unwillingness to care for one another.” To restore an appropriate balance, we need “to reinforce a complementary archetype, one already active in the organizational culture,” which in this case is the Lover.
In the third blog, I build on my observations that a complementary archetype is often needed that counters the core brand archetypes. Thus I conclude that while “the Seeker archetype was primary in the American focus on liberty, . . . it was the Lover who added ‘for all’” to the Preamble to the Constitution’s guarantee of liberty and justice and who worked with others to build homes, communities, and our nation. The Lover has its down sides, too, of course, one of which is the fear of losing what we love, whether it be people close to us or the culture in which we have grown up and with which we have identified. And, “Hell has no fury like a woman scorned" (or male scorned), a feeling that is at the root of our culture war. At its best, “the evolved Lover is what can expand our hearts to love our country, welcome the stranger, befriend our neighbors, and support democracy and equal opportunity not just for ourselves or our groups,” but for everyone.
The fourth blog in this series will be posted on my blogsite later this spring. It addresses our country’s shadow. Please also note that this America series builds on a prior one that identified the archetypes of our political parties.
All of these blogs can be found on my website: https://www.carolspearson.com/blog.
I welcome and encourage your comments on any of the blogs posted on my blogsite, several of which have inspired a rich exchange of ideas. Also, if you have an idea for a blog that you might like to submit, please send me an email with a brief summary and I will let you know whether it is suitable for my blogsite and, if so, what guidelines you should follow in preparing it. Because my current blogs highlight ideas about bringing Americans together, I would appreciate your passing them on to others who also want an end to the culture war.
In addition to my blogsite, you can find many of my blogs on those of Psychology Today and the Depth Psychology Alliance, and you are invited to make comments on the former and on the latter if you are a member. The easiest way to learn when a new blog goes up on my blogsite or any of the others on which I post is to follow me on Facebook at Carol S. Pearson, PhD and Twitter @carolspearson. Posts and tweets will inform you of the topic and how to access it. I also invite you to follow me on Instagram at carolspearsonphd.
As always, please feel free to forward this newsletter to others who might be interested.
What stories are you living? What about your brand? How do you manage that meaning?
Today the power of story is replacing the soundbite as a communication tool. This may lead to enhanced ability for us all to concentrate and think mor
The reshaping of social, political, and institutional norms in turn fuels personal transitions...