the psychological depth of the hero's journey archetypes and typologies

The Psychological Depth of the Hero’s Journey Archetypes and Typologies

The adventure begins when we learn how to access the inner world of consciousness.  One way to understand this is through a common storyline pattern.  The psychological depth of the hero’s journey archetypes and typologies is eye-opening.  It helps us understand the ultimate adventure.   Are you ready for this quest?

Every great story has a hero!  Every hero has a journey to achieve a goal, avert a crisis, and beat incredible odds.  The Hero’s Journey is a story pattern found in many ancient and current storylines.  The stages of this story directly apply to our lives, no matter our goals or endeavors.

To talk about the Hero’s Journey, we need to understand the characteristics of a hero.  We also need to define all the terms that we use.  This foundation leads to the 12 psychological principles of the Hero’s Journey.

Hero Archetype Characteristics

The hero archetype is a powerful figure in storytelling.  They embody the qualities we all aspire to gain.    The hero archetype is everywhere in our culture if we look for them.  The hero can be found in stories from fearless knights to modern-day superheroes.  They are the basis for the classic story of the Hero’s Journey.  But what exactly makes a hero?  What characteristics define this iconic figure?

Courage is perhaps the most defining characteristic of the hero archetype.  Heroes are known for their bravery in the face of danger.  They have a willingness to take risks and stand up for what they believe in.  It doesn’t matter if they are battling fire-breathing dragons or facing off against a powerful villain; heroes never back down.

Selflessness is another key trait of the hero archetype.  True heroes put the needs of others before their own.  They risk their safety and well-being to help those in need.  They make sacrifices for the greater good, even if it means giving up their happiness or comfort.

Integrity is one of the important hero archetype characteristics.  Heroes are known for their commitment to do what is right, even when it would be easier to take the easy way out.  They adhere to a strict code of ethics and morals, always striving to uphold justice and fairness in the world.

Strength, both physical and moral, is a hallmark of the hero archetype.  Heroes are often depicted as powerful, capable warriors.  But true strength comes from within.  Strength shows up as resilience, determination, and a steadfast belief in one’s abilities.

Ultimately, hero archetype characteristics represent the best of humanity.  These are the archetypes of bravery, selflessness, integrity, and strength.  By embodying these characteristics, heroes inspire us to be our best selves.  They help us to face our fears head-on and to strive for greatness in everything we do.

Hero’s Journey Archetypes and Typologies

the psychological depth of the hero's journey archetypes and typologies

Let’s start this discussion by defining terms.  It will help you understand how we use these terms.

What is the Hero’s Journey?
The Hero’s Journey is a storyline that explains our quest for enlightenment.  It is a pattern that is found in many cultures.  The common elements and progression of the story make it an archetype or typology.  These elements outline the trials and tests toward this goal of enlightenment or fulfillment.

What is Spirituality?
Spirituality deals with the deeper aspects of the human psyche.  It is both science and tradition helping understand consciousness, and awareness.  Spirituality is the domain of what we call the spirit, soul, or observer.  Some people say we are spiritual beings having a temporary physical experience.

Spirituality is also a word that is misused and infused with many other meanings, which adds to the confusion.  It is common for people to think that religion and spirituality are the same, but this is incorrect.  Religion is the belief in dogma and imaginary friends.  Religions use spiritual language to make the belief in mythology sound worthwhile.

Psychological depth
This term is used to describe a profound understanding of the mechanisms of the psyche.

The hero’s journey archetypes and typologies describe the psychological aspects of this knowledge.  They show how the quest relates to modern psychological concepts.

What exactly is an Archetype?
Archetypes are typical examples of a person or thing, the attributes associated with a person or thing.  It represents a recurring theme in stories, myths, and legends.

What is the inner world?
The inner word is the thread of consciousness that contains our awareness.  The inner world holds our personality, memories, and feelings of our life experiences.

What is Typology?
Typologies are a general framework with common meaning.  For example, in psychology, each of the nine personality types of the Enneagram has specific traits.

To journey in the spiritual context means?
To travel inward and explore the realms of the subconscious and the spirit.

What is Enlightenment?
Enlightenment is a state of intellectual and spiritual advancement.  This level of awareness gives one profound wisdom and understanding.

Psychological Depth of the Hero’s Journey Archetypes

The archetype of this story or timeline contains twelve distinct elements.  We need to recognize where we are in the story.

1) The ordinary world.   Here is where the hero resides before their journey begins.  This stage serves as a baseline.  He helps us see the state of the hero before taking the quest.  It helps understand everyday life, desires, and struggles.

Psychologically, the ordinary world represents the familiar and comfortable aspects of the psyche.  It is made up of daily routines, beliefs, and values.  It is a reflection of their internal landscape before the call shakes their world.  The hero begins in the ordinary world, just like you, facing mundane tasks and challenges.  It is akin to Freud’s concept of the ego.  Here, we must navigate the problems of daily life.  However, we sense there is something more beyond the mundane.

The ordinary world is the default stage of existence.  The default settings of consciousness are waking, dreaming, and sleeping.  Nothing extraordinary is happening here.  It is where we meet the heroes and identify with them.  Recall Luke Skywalker helping his uncle, Frodo, prepare for a party, talking with Gandalf; Harry Potter is at his aunt and uncle’s home.  He seems out of place, and Mulan is studying to impress the matchmaker.  You are known to your circle and likely view yourself as ordinary.  It is the very beginning of the story.

2) The call to adventure.  The call is a pivotal moment in the hero’s journey is the awakening.  Here is where the hero realizes the challenge or opportunity that propels them out of their ordinary world into the unknown.

This stage represents the stirring of the hero’s unconscious desires.  The unconscious desire we all share is our innate desire to seek the unknown.  The psychological depth of the hero’s journey archetypes and typologies starts with the call.   When you, the hero, accept the call, it triggers a shift in your mindset.  It propels you forward, forcing you to confront your fears, insecurities, and limitations.  It symbolizes the hero’s inner longing for change and transformation, even if you resist it at first.  It mirrors the concept of autonomy and self-actualization as you feel compelled to seek growth.

The challenge or quest is the innate call to journey within.  It may be precipitated by a significant emotional or physical event.  In practical terms, it often comes from realizing an addiction.  Maybe drug and alcohol use has placed relationships on rocky ground.  Or, your boss smelled alcohol on you as you walked by at work.  Perhaps legal consequences are pending.  The archetypes in the Hero’s Journey begin with hearing the call for change.

3) Refusal of the call.  The hero initially rejects this call because of fear, hesitation, insecurity, or another reason.  Perhaps family or friends have suggested that you go to treatment, and you aren’t quite ready.  You might be afraid of what to expect in therapy.  Whatever the reason, the call to adventure is rejected initially.

This stage represents the hero’s natural resistance to change as they grapple with the uncertainty and risks of embarking on a new path.  Psychologically, the Refusal of the Call exposes the hero’s inner conflicts and fears.

It is the awakening that exposes their doubts about their abilities.  It makes us reluctant to leave behind the familiar and their fear of failure.  It serves as a crucial moment of introspection and self-reflection.  The hero (you) confronts the inner demons that hold them back from embracing their destiny.  It parallels the psychological concept of resistance to change.  It is natural to struggle to break free from familiar patterns and embrace the unknown.

Many people get stuck at this stage.  The psychological depth of the Hero’s Journey archetypes explains how fear of change and fear of failure derail their journey.  They never reach the next level because they fear reaching out for help.

4) Meeting the mentor.  Meeting the mentor is a crucial stage in the hero’s journey, where the hero (you) encounters a wise and experienced figure.  It can be seen as a form of therapy or coaching where individuals seek support and guidance to navigate challenges and obstacles.  After vetting by the mentor, the hero is accepted as a student.  The mentor guides them on their path.  Psychologically, the mentor is an important anchor for the hero.  The hero (you) needs to obtain the skills and wisdom to navigate the challenges ahead.  The mentor archetype is a mirror of the hero’s inner wisdom and intuition.  The guidance of another leads them to a deeper understanding of themselves.

The mentor helps the hero gain confidence and gives insight or advice to overcome fears.  You might encounter a friend or family member who has had experiences with drug and alcohol abuse.  This person can give advice, guidance, and insight to help you gain confidence.  They are not necessarily a spiritual leader or teacher.  You may not even like this person.  They are the spark that helps you “do something” rather than just think about it.

5) Crossing the threshold.  The threshold signifies that the hero has committed to the journey.  Frodo packed food to take and set out past the Shire.  Luke Skywalker leaves Tatooine.  Harry Potter gets on the train at platform 9¾.  Mulan sets out to the military camp.  Here is where our hero, you, says yes to treatment and heads out to begin the adventure of reclaiming your life.

Here, the hero (you) leaves the familiar world behind and enters into the unknown.  This threshold represents a psychological boundary that the hero must overcome to grow and evolve.  It is a profound moment of self-discovery, where the hero must confront their fears and doubts to move forward on their journey.  This reflects the concept of transformation.  The hero sheds their old identities and embraces new possibilities.

The fifth step often begins with a significant experience of the inner landscape of the mind.  It might be the first time you experience the 4th state of awareness or your first experience with the Shamanic Journey.  It is learning how to access the inner world and take the hero’s journey.

6) Tests, allies, and enemies.  The hero needs to learn who can be trusted.  A sidekick emerges, like Hedwig, Hermione, Ron, Sam, Mushu, and R2D2 and C3PO.  Tests might be barriers to treatment like childcare, time off work, finances, or looming court appearances.  This mirrors the psychological concept of conflict resolution.  The hero must learn the skills to navigate interpersonal dynamics and internal struggles.

The sixth step is a confrontation with the enemy.  The enemy could be external or internal.  Most often, the first enemy we face is harmful memories.  Others confront the contradictions of religious mythology.  It is one of the archetypes in the Hero’s Journey, where many people fail.  They go back to sleep and their old lives because they fear their enemy.

These tests serve as psychological obstacles that the hero (yes, you) must overcome to achieve their goal.  Allies provide support and companionship on the quest.  The enemies present obstacles and conflicts that the hero must navigate to succeed.

7) Approach to the innermost cave.  Preparations are needed and might include maps and surveys to enter the cave.  This concept aligns with shadow work, where you confront your inner demons and emotional wounds.  In treatment, the innermost cave refers to working through feelings of shame and guilt.  Women drink and use it mainly to cover painful, negative emotions.  To continue your journey, you must face the reasons why you chose to drink and use.

At this stage, the hero confronts their inner demons and faces their greatest fears.  Yes, this is where the scary parts start.  It represents a major psychological shift as the hero (you) delves into their psyche.  Here is where the hero uses the weapons given by the mentor.  These magical tools of courage, selflessness, and integrity are the keys.  They help prepare the hero for the challenges and obstacles to come.   It is a time of introspection where the hero must confront their weaknesses to move forward on their journey.

What is the typology of your greatest fear?  Many people have the fear of death, heights, and the dark.  Some of these fears are instinctual; others can be learned, such as fear of people from different backgrounds.  If you are ready to approach your innermost cave, you can discover the archetypes and typologies of your fears.  We recommend using tools like the Enneagram, Culture Assessment Questionnaire, and Compared Comparison.

8) The ordeal.  Here is where we face the greatest fear and most difficult challenge.  It parallels the concept of resilience.  As the hero weathers hardships, they emerge stronger on the other side.  Perhaps you were abused as a child or had a miscarriage that was so painful.  Your mentor or therapist will ask you to delve into the events that scar your psyche to address your most significant challenges.  The inner work here is challenging but so worth the reward.

The ordeal is the climax of the hero’s journey, where you, the hero, face your ultimate test and must confront your greatest fear head-on.  This stage represents the psychological battle.  The hero battles their innermost fears and insecurities.

The ordeal represents a turning point in the hero’s journey.  They must overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to achieve their goal.  Psychologically, this is when the person with an addiction either resists the temptation or succumbs and must start over.  It is where you ace the presentation in front of the executive staff or make blunders that sidetrack your career.

9) Overcoming the greatest fear to earn the reward.  To overcome your greatest fear is to earn the reward.  Here, you are rewarded for your bravery and perseverance.  It reflects the concept of mastery and achievement.  As the hero succeeds in overcoming battles, they can harness their strengths and see their potential.

This stage represents a significant point in the hero’s psychological growth.  The hero has faced their fears and emerged stronger and more resilient.  By conquering your greatest fear, you gain the rewards of self-confidence and courage.

Those who overcome addiction know this battle never goes away.  You may not be involved in the addictive behavior, but the demon is always there waiting for a chance to return.  It is the same for those who escape a toxic relationship or the limiting beliefs of religion.

There are many examples of this quest in popular stories.  Mulan’s life was spared after they discovered she was a girl.  Luke received the Death Star plans, Harry Potter received the Sorcerer’s Stone, and Frodo received a sword.  Your reward is much higher.  The freedom from being entrapped by maladaptive behaviors is priceless.

10) The road back.  This stage comprises the hero recommitting to complete the journey.  They must accept the road back to the ordinary world.  This aligns with the concept of personal and social integration.  As the hero moves beyond physical and psychological boundaries, they are an example to others.  They inspire and help others take this journey.

You completed treatment and are preparing to return home.  Your clinical team will work with you on a relapse prevention plan.  The relapse prevention plan is like a roadmap after treatment to help you stay sober.

Here, you journey back to the ordinary world.  This stage is fraught with challenges and obstacles.  The hero must confront their inner demons and fears before returning home.  Psychologically, the road back represents the hero’s struggle with their sense of self and identity.  It is a time of reflection.  They have a new identity now, but the ordinary world may not recognize it yet.  The hero must grapple with the changes they have undergone throughout the journey.

11) The resurrection.  Here is where the hero battles the enemy.  It is the climax of the story, a final test that represents a cleansing.  It might be a showdown between the hero and the Shadow.  During the ordeal phase, you looked at shadowy places in your past.  During the resurrection, one final challenge awaits.  This mirrors the concept of transformation and renewal.  As the hero sheds old patterns, it provides room to embrace new beginnings.

The resurrection is another pivotal moment in the hero’s journey, death.  Confronting death, even a symbolic one, takes courage.  The psychological death and rebirth for the hero is the shedding of limiting beliefs.  Resurrecting from death is a powerful symbol, which is why religions use it.

In the story of Mulan, she tries to warn the rest of the army that Shan Yu is hiding to attack.  No one believes her, and she must convince them of the danger.  In your resurrection, you must face a deep, dark secret.  It is a psychological struggle to be vulnerable.

12) Return with the prize or the elixir.  The final reward is after the hero is resurrected, purified, and returned to the ordinary world.  You have done the difficult work of looking within at the reasons you drank and used.  With the help of mentors, allies, and self-efficacy, you are prepared to return home.  The hero contributes to the greater good and inspires others.  These acts of kindness reflect the concepts of selflessness and generosity.

Returning with the prize or the elixir is the final stage of the hero’s journey.  Here is where you return home with the knowledge, wisdom, or treasures that you have gained throughout the quest.  This stage represents psychological integration.  The hero’s prize and experiences benefit the community or world at large.  To return with the prize or the elixir is a symbol of the hero’s mastery over themself and the journey.

In Conclusion

The hero’s journey is not just a narrative structure.  It is a reflection of the psychological principles that shape our lives.  By understanding the 12 stages, we can gain insight into our own personal growth, resilience, and transformation.

At its core, the hero’s journey is a reflection of the human experience.  It mirrors our journeys of personal growth, transformation, and self-discovery.  Each stage represents a different aspect of our psyche and offers insight into our motivations, fears, and desires.

Where are you in this quest?  Do you embody the hero archetype characteristics, or are you lacking in some areas?  The psychological depth of the Hero’s Journey archetypes and typologies helps us understand the quest of our own lives.