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Archetypes are Fluid and Dynamic

Archetypes are Fluid and Dynamic

Kesstan Blandin, PhD is the Vice President of Research and Development at the Center for the Applications of Psychological Type in Gainesville, FL. Previous to this, Dr. Blandin was a research psychologist specializing in dementia at the Dartmouth Centers for Health & Aging at Dartmouth College.
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In a recent conversation with an academic, and large user of the PMAI® assessment, he told me that periodically he takes the PMAI instrument again to track his archetype patterns. I thought, yes, that’s the way to do it because archetypes are fluid and dynamic

Archetypes are often thought of and spoken about as static identities, as though an active archetype is who a person is. It is true, from certain perspectives, that the 12 PMAI® archetypal characters are, well, characters and it is easy to identify them in our personalities. This is because the PMAI archetypes are universal in the human experience. But no one represents the Sage, Magician, or Jester completely and always. 

A crucial distinction is that the archetypal characters are symbolic representations of a fluid and dynamic potential pattern that exists in the human psyche. The Ruler, for example, is a specific type of character that some of us may express as leaders or mothers or teachers, whose primary pattern is control and responsibility. But there may come a moment in our life that changes this pattern. Maybe we let go of that control or responsibility, perhaps to seek new horizons, and we may then present characteristics of another archetype. To recognize that change could be vital in our understanding of ourselves.

The PMAI archetypes are all within us, and they rise and fall in our consciousness as experiences pull them forward or push them back. When we become invested in an archetypal character as an identity, it can block access to other ways of being. Identity hinders us because we are attached to one way, usually a habitual way, of being who we are, that keeps us from taking on that new attitude, expression, or behavior because “that’s not me.”

Yet you and I are in a constant process of organic change in our self-evolution into full human beings. In this evolution, crises, challenges, joys, and sudden turns of fate impact our values, our attitudes, and our choices. New people, jobs, homes, friends, or interests demand previously unlived potentials that rise within us to meet the new elements outside of us. 

Look at your life—have you experienced any challenges, surprises, bold decisions, or losses lately? How have the winds of fortune blown through your life? Now look at your PMAI archetype profile: are there any characters in there you have previously identified with that might be receding as others have been called to center stage? The reality of our constant change in small and large ways, and as a way to track your evolution through your archetypes, is why it can be insightful to take the PMAI assessment again. 

What new potentials within you are waiting to be realized?

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