Discover the Archetypes Shaping Your Life
illustration of Icarus falling from the Sun

When You Need a New Perspective

Carol S. Pearson, PhD, DMin
Dr. Carol S. Pearson, coauthor of the Pearson-Marr Archetype Indicator® instrument, is an internationally recognized scholar and well-known author of numerous books, among them the bestselling The Hero Within, as well as Awakening the Heroes Within, The Hero and the Outlaw, and Magic At Work. Awakening the Heroes Within provided the foundational theory set from which the PMAI® assessment initially was developed, augmented by analyses of data from fifteen years of PMAI results.
View full author bio | Close

Habitual attitudes often blind us to new possibilities and options. Life is most rewarding for me when I am growing and learning. I've found that the archetypes that are dominant for me and others are important for authenticity and for the primary lessons we are learning at any given time. However, they can also obscure other possibilities. We all need the flexibility that allows us to relate to a variety of people and situations. Here are some examples of common situations that require tapping into new archetypes.

Feeling Stuck: Katherine was a member of a women's group, where she once again showed up furious with her husband who seemed not to notice things that need to be done around the house. The group then invoked their practice of identifying the multiple stories about any given situation. She identified that the story she told herself was about how unfair he was to her, as she ended up doing everything herself. In conversation with the group, she identified her archetype as the Idealist. She was seeing herself as the innocent part of this archetype, not knowing what to do if others did not live by her values. In this case, that everyone should help out in a home and that sex roles should be equal, as her husband said he also believed.

Others chimed with alternative stories. The Warrior might demand that he do his part and call him on it when he does not. The Lover would naturally share how his assumptions that she would do everything made her feel. The Realist could acknowledge that some people really don't notice what needs to be done, so hire more help. The Creator might naturally brainstorm with him about how to get all the housework done. The Ruler would surely create a plan for who would do what when. The Jester could crack jokes about his being such a slacker or simply let things pile up until it got his attention.

These fresh perspectives freed Katherine from seeing things just one way. She gathered them as a stockpile of stories to tell herself when annoyed with her husband, increasing her options about how to think and what she might do. As a result, her anger at her husband abated and her strategies for their being more of a team in the home increased.

Whenever you are feeling particularly aggrieved and not knowing what to do, exploring how many stories you can make up about the situation based on your archetype profile, and in particular your midrange archetypes, can help expand your options.

Being Blindsided: Sometimes new and unexpected circumstances require new perspectives. Ethan ran a thriving business, with leadership informed by the Ruler's ability to develop orderly systems, the Caregiver's concern for employees and customers, and the Idealist's optimism. All was going well until a competitor's new invention changed everything, and the bottom fell out for sales in Ethan's company. He called up his Realist archetype, which had earlier helped him face the facts of his parents' impoverished state and find a way to get educated. But that alone was not enough. He hired a consultant known for his Revolutionary ability to turn things around quickly, and worked to quiet his own resistance to doing what was required to recreate his business. In the process, he awakened his own inner version of the Revolutionary, which led him to make other changes in his life, including eating differently and getting up early to go to the gym.

Your situation might be very different, but if something happens out of the blue that requires immediate attention, it can be helpful to consider what archetypal stories you are currently living—and what else you might need. Sometimes that requires engaging someone, a friend or a professional, who lives and exemplifies the needed story, until it becomes your own.

Natural Growth and Development: In his 20's, Nathan's goal was to get as much gusto out of life as he could, mainly through travel and trying every new thing that came around. But, at 32, he realized it might be a good idea to find a wife, settle down, and (sadly, he thought) find a job that would make him some real money. He identified that his primary archetypes had been Idealist for optimism, Seeker for exploring the world, and Jester for his gusto and playful spirit.

He figured that he might find a job he enjoyed that included some travel, but it might help in seeking a wife to awaken his dormant Lover and if they had kids, his dormant Caregiver. As these desires were congruent with his new life stage, some of the changes he needed happened organically. He started dating more seriously and actually found himself in love, and as that happened, acting in more romantic ways. When, at their wedding, his buddies teased him about all he would have to give up, his response was just to smile happily.

A few years later, he was terrified, when his wife got pregnant, that he would not be able to make the sacrifices necessary to care for a baby. But when he first held his daughter in his arms, he fell in love with her, too. He then happily gave up many experiences that had once been what his life was about to share in caring for her.

It can be helpful for any of us to trust that when we are in a time of transition, the appropriate archetypes often awaken as they are needed.

These are just a few examples of why the PMAI® assessment is a growth instrument that provides you with information about where all twelve of the archetypes are in your life at any given time. Thus, it can help you navigate a multitude of circumstances throughout your life.


Related Content

Enacting the hero's journey as story When Is a Story Archetypal?
by Kesstan Blandin, PhD

We know the facts—that we are currently one of 8 billion people on the planet, that in the greater scheme of humanity and the cosmos we will live and die anonymously - but this is not how you and I live. You are striving, battling, and loving through an epic drama. Each time you triumph, each time you fail, you gain the wisdom of living for the first time, as every hero has done through time. Every one of us senses our mysterious potential, often ambiguous and vague, yet emotionally compelling in its lure towards who we can be. We sense as well that the hard facts of life do not provide access to this level of potential, but where to turn for guidance?


Jung & Archetypes
The Pearson-Marr Archetype Indicator® (PMAI®) is rooted in the theories of C. G. Jung. Jung's view of archetypes, a concept he didn't coin but was the first to apply to the structure and experience of the psyche or mind, is based on his understanding of the various levels of the psyche or mind (conscious and unconscious).


Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman with arms crossed at the wrists Pearson's & Heroic Archetypal Characters
Carol Pearson,PhD has a unique presence in the field of Jungian archetypes. First, Pearson's work is about twelve heroic archetypes that she discovered appear across culture, time, and stories, such as myths, fairy tales, literature, and religion. The theory uses the metaphor of the heroic journey as a structure for ordering archetypes as they commonly occur in the course of Western adult development.


Living the Heroic Life Journey: Part 1
Mar 04, 2020 by Carol S. Pearson, PhD, DMin and Hugh Marr, PhD, LPC

Studying Jungian psychology helped me figure out that living builds inner psychological structure. Jung described how, in the first half of life, we need to form a healthy ego, while in the later half of life the task is to connect with the Self, an accomplishment which takes us to a deeper understanding of who we are and a capacity for feeling more connected to others and the world.


When it is the lowest archetype in your profile, embodying the archetypal Caregiver can transform a Blind Spot into a heroic journey. Hidden Gold in the Shadow
Nov 17, 2022 by Kesstan Blandin, PhD

My younger sister, Carmen, is quite close in age to me – just a year apart – but distant in personality. Growing up, my naturally sensitive, caring, generous sibling would often say to me that I just didn’t have that “caregiver gene.” She was right. Where Carmen was motivated to generate positive emotions in herself and others, I was fascinated by the dark nether regions of the mind and imagination. Where Carmen naturally trusted and nurtured others’ vulnerabilities, I probed the hidden secrets and conflicted natures of myself and others.


Living the Heroic Life Journey: Part 2
by Carol S. Pearson, PhD, DMin and Hugh Marr, PhD, LPC

The meaning of "soul" used in depth psychology does not necessarily imply the religious meaning of what is eternal about you; rather, it is about discovering the deeper, more essential "you" that exists now. While many people have trouble understanding what soul is, most of us know what it means to look in the mirror and think something like, "if I do this one more day, or if I agree to this, or if I allow this, I will lose my soul."


roman warrior fighting in a cloud of dust with a superimposed 'POW' Finding Our Voice, Managing Anger
by Patricia R. Adson, PhD

There is a difference between feeling angry and acting angry. Angry actions and loud words may scare other people, or allow you to express yourself and vent, but in interpersonal relationships, such actions seldom get the results we desire.


silhouette of George and the Dragon statue, Moscow, in front of a sunset sky Authentic Archetypal Branding
by Carol S. Pearson, PhD, DMin

After Awakening the Heroes Within (1991) was published, I began to recognize the archetypes I wrote about being used in advertisements. I was aware that too many individuals and organizations focus on promoting an image of themselves unrelated to what they genuinely care about and value. When there is a large gap between the real self and what we are trying to convince the world we are, the result is, at best, a shallow and empty life.


dark purple book cover with a phoenix rising titled What Stories Are You Living Reviews and Excerpts
Dr. Pearson’s book will introduce the rich archetypal journey of Jungian individuation to the novice and deepen the competency of the advanced reader to use Jungian archetypes for awareness and evolution towards one’s highest self.


office workers around a table with archetype symbols over their heads Working with Teams through the PMAI® Archetypes
May 07, 2021 by Kesstan Blandin, PhD

All organizations, teams, or any group with a common mission, will confront archetypal moments, those difficult decisions on how best to go forward when what you decide will have impact on the organization and customers.


three coworkers holding coffee cups and laughing Archetypes Are Oriented Around a Core Quality
Jun 17, 2021 by Kesstan Blandin, PhD

People accurately and intuitively understand that the archetypes symbolically represent universal human qualities. A common misunderstanding though is if an archetype is not active in your Archetype Profile, then you are lacking the core quality it represents. Having an archetypal character rank low in your Profile does not mean you are lacking that quality but indicates you are not identified with it and likely not accessing it, at least not with ease. In this article, we explain how identifying each archetype with a core quality is distinct from using that same quality through the other archetypes.


woman with red backpack standing at a forked path in the woods Archetypes are Fluid and Dynamic
Feb 13, 2023 by Kesstan Blandin, PhD

If you happen to take the PMAI® assessment again, you will likely notice the same characters congregating near the top and bottom of your profile, but not always in the same positions. Our newest article discusses the fluid and dynamic nature of archetypes and how the PMAI instrument can be used to reveal your growth or the growth of your clients over time.


diverse millennials, and a senior woman executive. share a moment of understanding Types of Leaders, Types of Knowledge
Jun 21, 2023 by Merle Singer and Kesstan Blandin, PhD

Technology has become an increasingly significant source of knowledge for leaders in the twenty-first century, possibly creating a shift in the archetypal dynamics of leaders today. In this first article on "Leadership Narratives" a mixed methods research study, conducted between 2018-2020 by Merle Singer and Heather Round, explores how our volatile world is changing the leadership narratives for seasoned female professionals and early-career female and male millennials in corporate Australia and the United States.


The hero archetype, Saint George, slays the outlaw dragon Archetypes, Brands, and the Quest for Meaning
by Margaret Mark

In Margaret Mark's career in advertising, she was often dumbfounded by the extent to which brands took on meaning for people - often across cultures and over decades. Apple, Coke, Disney, Nike. What made these entities so powerful, with the capacity to transcend time and place?

In this article Mark describes her quest for insight and how it eventually led her to archetypes and Carol Pearson's work.


Understanding the PMAI® archetypes can help improve family dynamics or settle conflicts, even while online gaming Archetypes and Family Dynamics
Sep 14, 2022 by Yvonne Nelson-Reid, PhD

In this month's article Yvonne Nelson-Reid highlights an area not often talked about; the impact of archetypes on family dynamics. In order to do this Yvonne uses the World of Warcraft gaming, as played between the three men in her family.


Students with low self-efficacy are more likely to give up when faced with difficult circumstances. The Impact of Low Scoring Archetypes on College Student Success
Oct 17, 2022 by Mona AlQadi, PhD

This month new author Mona AlQadi, PhD reports on her dissertation research using the PMAI® to gain a deeper understanding of the unconscious archetypal narratives at play in underperformance in college students. Her study yields several insights into the relationship between low-scoring archetypes and students’ attitudes, behaviors, and worries toward their academic goals.


World of Warcraft players, like this elf lady in green, play out enchanted archetypal stories What Story Are You Playing?
May 18, 2023 by Logan Abbitt

When looking for a little enchantment in life what archetypal story do you like to play? In this second article, Logan Abbitt compares 6 more of the PMAI archetypes with some of the mythical characters played out in the high fantasy game World of Warcraft (WoW).


Girl playing World of Warcraft online, immersed in her epic, mythical archetypal story. What Story Are You Playing?
Apr 18, 2023 by Logan Abbitt

What archetypal story are you playing? Online high fantasy games, such as World of Warcraft (WoW), can be a way to play out your archetypal stories. In this month's article, Logan Abbitt, a longtime WoW player, gives us insight into how the PMAI® archetypes can crossover into the character roles in games like WoW.


Stories help us understand ourselves and to transform and develop Transform Your Stories; Transform Your Life
Sep 18, 2023 by Kesstan Blandin, PhD

Re-enchant your life and transform your life story! Finding Your Story: Using Archetypes to Guide Your Personal Journey, the exciting upcoming guidebook by psychologist Hugh K. Marr, PhD, will guide you through the stages of your own life stories to discover the mythic and symbolic realms hidden within you.


Bringing Archetype (PMAI®) Together with Type (MBTI®)
Apr 02, 2024 by Kesstan Blandin, PhD

Though archetypes (PMAI) and personality type (MBTI) express different aspects of one's personality, one fluid and one fixed, together they bestow a depth of self-understanding. This month, Kesstan Blandin, PhD, distinguishes the contrasting nature of these two systems and how they ground or emphasize each other in a way that can accelerate self-growth.