Sunday, November 07, 2010

James Whitlark - The Sequence of Archetypes in Individuation (Using Spiral Dynamics)

I've always suspected that Jungian systems could be adapted to the SDi and/or Integral models in some fashion. In this 2005 article by James Whitlark and posted at the DynaPsych site (maintained by Editor: Mark Germine, Associate Editors: Allan Combs, Ben Goertzel and with Honorary Editors: Ervin Laszlo, Stanley Krippner), Whitlark uses the Spiral Dynamics framework as a foundation for organizing Jungian archetypes into a hierarchical developmental model.

Here is the introduction:

The Sequence of Archetypes in Individuation

James Whitlark

Professor of English,Texas Tech University


Scattered throughout Jung’s writings are a few references to the sequence of archetypes associated with stages of individuation. These archetypes constitute the configurations of the unconscious at various points in human development. The American Psychologist Clare Graves spent his career charting the conscious stages of that development. Taken together, they explain each other.

The Sequence of Archetypes in Individuation

The meeting with oneself is, at first, the meeting with one’s own shadow.… Whoever looks into the water sees his own image, but behind it …[s]ometimes a nixie gets into the fisherman’s net.… The nixie is an even more instinctive version of a magical feminine being whom I call the anima.… Only when all props and crutches are broken, and no cover from the rear offers even the slightest hope of security does it become possible for us to experience an archetype that up to then had hidden behind the meaningful nonsense played out by the anima. This is the archetype of meaning, just as the anima is the archetype of life itself.

—C. G. Jung., Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious, CW 9, par. 44-66

* * * *

The above description of the archetypes’ sequence sprawls over twenty-two, highly metaphorical paragraphs. Although its topic (the interrelationship of archetypes and individuation) is a major theme of Jung’s psychology, his descriptions of it are tentative and labyrinthine. In the above passage, for instance, he first mentions the shadow, then doubles back to what he declares to be a more primitive pattern, the “nixie” (generally called Trickster). Next he alludes to what he deems a more complex archetype—the anima. After encountering it, an individual may progress to a still-later stage of individuation associated with what he terms “the archetype of meaning” (i.e., the Wise Old Person). In many books, he lists a final archetype: the Self (the unified psyche). Given Jung’s scattered way of presenting the sequence, his followers tend to substitute simpler versions of individuation. In The Origins and History of Consciousness, for example, Erich Neumann attempted to describe the development of consciousness in terms of one archetype, the Hero; consequently, Neumann’s description is quite different from a sequence of archetypes. The “usual” view among Jungians is that individuation has three stages (Whitmont, 266; Edinger, Ego and Archetype, 186; Alschuler, 283). In a 1942 lecture on alchemy, however, Jung described five stages of it (Jung, CW 13, 1953-1967.; Franz, 1980), and he frequently alluded to the traditional notion that spiritual progress was sevenfold (e.g., CW 12, 1953-1967). As I shall argue, this last number comes closest to what results from splicing together his brief references.

In fleshing out his skeletal allusions, I take the same course post-Jungians have usually followed: supplementing his discoveries with later research. Understandably, this has previously meant adding relatively well-known psychologies (e.g., neo-Freudian theories or brain studies). I am extending the updating of Jungian thought into less familiar territory: the psychology of Clare Graves, who paid as much attention to the conscious side of individuation as Jung did to its unconscious. A contemporary of Abraham Maslow (whose system somewhat resembles the Gravesean), Graves spent his life trying to synthesize all the competing psychological systems.

Jung had already argued that each major psychology best serves a different group of patients (CW, vol. 7, p. 140). Graves developed this recognition of diversity further, demonstrating that each major psychology presumes a different ideal as crowning human maturation. Graves first encountered these (in collaboration with colleagues) by classifying essays of students asked to define maturity (i.e., the target of development). His first batch of essays extolled one or another of three aspirations: the Virtuous Person, the Successful Professional, or the Empathetic Humanitarian. After open admissions added to his classes, he encountered a fourth goal: the Unscrupulous Winner. Later, based on further research, he raised the number of types and discovered a sequence (albeit complicated by that tendency toward temporary regression found in any psychological description of human development). Why, though, (aside from temporary regressions) do people rise to ever-more global worldviews?

Confining his investigations to consciousness, Graves simply noted that encountering existential problems too complex for a lower-numbered stage moved people to higher-numbered ones. That development is easier to explain if one notes how the unconscious (Jungian) archetype of each stage prepares the way for the next stage. This happens in the following way. To maintain the conscious worldview within any stage, an individual represses cognitive dissonance (everything in the person’s experience that does not fit the conscious orientation). Being whatever consciousness rejected, these repressions have a configuration roughly its opposite (i.e., the archetype complementary to it). Eventually, if there is much dissonance (as in major existential problems), it overwhelms the energy available to suppress it and powerful images arise, preparatory to the next stage.

To his surprise, Graves found that stages alternate in emphasizing either the instinct of ego-centrism or that of social cooperation. He did not explain why this happens. By combining his psychology with Jung’s, we reach an explanation. Since the archetype is complementary (or, as Jung would say, “compensatory”) to consciousness, the emergence of its contents changes the life style from individual-oriented to society-oriented or vice versa and increases complexity by incorporating previously repressed data. This makes psychological health not static but dynamic and dialectic. Given the accelerating pace of social change, this process has become increasingly common and, indeed, necessary.

Graves’s most extensive presentation of his system is an unfinished, book-length, untitled manuscript of which I am one of the editorial consultants, but it is not yet ready for publication. Fortunately, all its basic ideas are available in otherwise unpublished works, available at , maintained by the manuscript’s primary editors, Chris Cowan and Natasha Todorovic. Cowan has already presented his interpretation of Graves psychology as Spiral Dynamics. Based on these sources and Jung’s works, I offer the ensuing synthesis, illustrated with examples both from anthropology and popular culture.
Follow this link to read the whole article.

Briefly, I want to list his stages, you'll have to go read the article to see his explanations for choosing these particular archetypes. He color-coded the stages with Spiral colors for easy identification.
Stage One: Survivor/Transitional-Object
Stage Two: Truster/Trickster
Stage Three: Unscrupulous Competitor/Hero
Stage Four: the Virtuous/the Shadow
Stage Five: Materialistic Analyst of Things/Anim(a/us)
Stage Six: Empathizer with Every Person/Wise One
Stage Seven: Distancer /Self
Are there higher stages?
I don't necessarily agree with his selections and rationale, but I have not had the time (or the inspiration) to create my own model. Still, this should have spurred some conversation someplace, and I have seen none in the 5 years since it was posted. Maybe now?

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