Co-creation: The Mother and the Father
The third and fourth Archetypes, the Mother and the Father, depict the mature versions of the Débutante and Suitor (respectively). They are the adults whose Co-creative relationship converts the youthful excitement of the Débutante and Suitor into the subtler, stabler, more responsible experience appropriate to a Mother and a Father.
There are no parents without a child, so it would be absurd to attempt to speak about the Mother and Father Archetypes without reference to a child. You may think this absurdity indicates that the Archetypal relationship is actually trinary rather than binary. This is not so. In fact, when we use the term “child,” we equivocate between two very distinct Archetypal concepts. Our first child-concept is, in fact, an Archetype. This Archetype is foolish, naïve, playful, joyous, curious, and innocent. It is the one we typically think of when we think of an Archetypal Child because it is the single most central Archetype of them all. I call this Archetype the first-person child because the Archetype describes the experience of childhood from the child’s perspective.
In any case, the first-person child it is not among the Archetypes I will be describing in this essay. Our second child-concept is the one that is relevant to this essay, which I call the third-person child because it describes the experience of childhood from the parents’ perspective. This child is a being who is wholly dependent on the parents. It is an expression of their union and a charge placed in their care. They are stewards whose unified efforts shape, support, nourish and prepare this child for entry into a world where the parents no longer act as stewards. At no point is the first-person perspective of the child at stake because we are concerned with the parents’ experience which is vastly different from the child’s.
In order to avoid confusion between these two senses of the word “child,” I will refer to the first-person child as the Child Archetype and the third-person child as the Creature. I choose the word “Creature” because its etymological root is the term “create.” In tending and caring for a Creature, the stewards are engaged in the act of creating. Because the act of creating a Child is always an experience shared between a Mother and Father, I call their act of producing and caring for a Creature Co-creating. The Creature does not, of course, have to be a human being. It can be a pet, a home, a career, a relationship, or a project. Regardless, the Creature is always a living being in one way or another.
A final introductory note: most of the Archetypes are gendered. This is a breeding ground for stereotype, especially since I sometimes make use of gender stereotypes as a vehicle toward Archetype. In order to mitigate against misunderstanding, I wrote a chapter called Sex and Gender. If you have not yet read this chapter, I recommend it.
On to the essay.
Archetype #3: The Mother
The Mother is unconsciously expressive. She doesn’t think to hold anything back because that would impede her deepest urge. Her expressions are primarily emotional. She responds to all circumstances with a characteristic emotional generosity. This generosity, however, does not necessarily mean that all of her emotional expressions are pleasant; rather, it means that expressing emotion is her forte and nothing will prevent her from doing so. Given the Mother’s expressiveness, this archetype often manifests as stereotype emotional overflow in girls and women. It would seem almost obvious that the richer and more forceful a woman’s inner emotional world, the more likely she will be to want a child. Trauma and psychic disorder, however, can mitigate against the Motherly instinct in an otherwise emotion-centered woman.
Although we typically think of a Mother as a woman, the Archetypal role can be played by a man just as readily, so long as he as capable of setting aside all of his rational faculties to play the role. The Mother is not irrational in that there is no making sense of her; rather, reason is an impediment to her ability to cultivate a relationship with the Creature. The Creature, who is the gravitational center around which the Mother revolves, is characterized by its vulnerability. We can gauge a person’s access to the Mother Archetype by observing her responses to the vulnerable. Those who are either apathetic or scientific respond to the vulnerable not as a Mother to a Creature, but in a completely different (and less appropriate) Archetypal role. Men, then, can be Mothers insofar as they fixate upon supporting a vulnerable Creature, setting aside other (masculine) Archetypal responses.
The Mother gives without thinking, speaks without reflecting, and moves reflexively as soon as her Creature cries. Authentic, unmediated responsiveness is one of her prime talents, for it emerges from her effortlessly. Consistency, however, is a virtue that the Mother must learn. The Mother’s role is to incubate her Creature, to bring it to term, and in order to do so she will need to provide it with a consistent supportive environment. Emotional expression, however, can be notoriously inconsistent. No Mother intends to be inconsistent with her Creature, but because her expression is unmediated and unreflective, her ability to provide consistency is at the mercy of the inner consistency of her own unconscious modes of expression. That is, she can only give the Creature what she already has.
Archetype #4: The Father
The Father is an authority. Other Archetypal treatments often refer to him as the King (and the Mother as Queen). He is the locus of rational thought by which he integrates all information at his disposal. To the Father we traditionally attribute the Book of Rules, though tradition does not always emphasize the source of the Father’s rules. Because all rules are formulated in response to whatever it is the rules rule, the Father—as an Archetype—must develop his own unique set of rules. The Father, of course, rules the Creature.
As the Mother awakens when she is impregnated with a seed to incubate, the Father awakens when he is presented a Creature to take as his own. The concept of property originated with the Father who must own his Creature. Although some social theorists will rebel against this apparently authoritarian parental attitude, the Father cannot be responsible unless he claims ownership. Responsibility is the Father’s talent, without which he is no Father at all. The stereotyped extremes to which the Father’s ownership of the Creature extends are a sign that there is, in fact, a cultural Father Complex out of which we have yet to emerge and through which we have the greatest difficulty perceiving the Father Archetype with any clarity at all. Single mothers often claim that they must be both Mother and Father as both a defense and a battle-cry, implicitly suggesting that the Father is unnecessary.
The Father represents the pinnacle of reason and structure, and as such he confers validity upon the Creature. Jungian theorists sometimes view the Father as offering “conditional love,” a characterization which reaches for a clear sense of Fatherhood but fails to seize the core. The Father offers conditional validity. Whether the Father’s love is conditional or unconditional depends not upon his Fatherhood but upon his moral choice. His love does not make him any less able to perceive the strengths and weaknesses in his Creature, so any construal of the Father as offering conditional love approaches the Father through the lens of Motherhood.
The Father issues the Creature rules for her modes of expression. If the Creature follows the Father’s rules, he nods in approval, signaling that the Creature may continue onward. In the Father, the Creature discovers a direction for growth, learning, and progressive building. Without the Father’s structure, the Creature will never find the discipline and desire to move from one experience to the next. Hence, if the Creature is a football player, the Father issues the rules of the game. Without the Father’s rules, there is no conditions for winning, no organized process for scoring, indeed no game at all. If we strip all rules from any game as honestly as possible, we must revert to undirected childlike curiosity.
As the Father is the rule-maker, so he must also name the consequences of breaking the rules. These attributes of the Father underlie the common misapprehension that the Father’s love is inherently conditional. This misapprehension is plainly apparent in our concept of “tough love.” The Father punishes the Creature for disobeying because he loves the Creature, not because the Creature has lost the Father’s love.
The Interpersonal Mother
Our conceptions of the Mother Archetype usually focus on the indispensable mother-child relationship, which, though not an inaccurate description of the Archetype, usually fails to appreciate its generality. The Creature is versatile. Although the most obvious expression of the Mother’s Creature is a literal baby, we become Mothers and Fathers long before we ever start baby-making. The Creature is a symbolic expression of the Mother’s relationship with the Father. The Mother Archetype awakens the moment that the Débutante accepts the Suitor’s Proposal (his seed). Once the Suitor is accepted, the Débutante no longer needs to attract a Proposal. She now has the responsibility of incubating the Suitor’s seed. As the Débutante finds fulfillment in the Suitor whose dream she will make a reality, the Mother finds fulfillment in actually making that dream a reality. In interpersonal terms, then, anyone who is in a committed relationship is a Mother.
An emotionally bonded relationship between two persons is always a Mother-Father relationship. Although a healthy relationship demands that both persons play both roles alternatingly, one person typically plays the Mother and the other typically plays the Father. Additionally, hormonal chemistry inclines women to emotional expressiveness (as in the stereotype case of the premenstrual female), so the most typical scenario in a heterosexual relationship is that the woman plays the Mother and the man plays the Father. This typical scenario can be extended into homosexual relationships, too: the more feminine of the two will usually play the Mother and the more masculine the Father. We can safely call the Interpersonal Mother the “Girlfriend.”
The Girlfriend is sensitive to the dynamic needs of the relationship as an independent entity. While self-reflexive knowing is not natural to her (rarely does she understand her emotions), her feelings about what the relationship needs are both acute and accurate. She feels that something is wrong long before the Boyfriend does, and she is compelled into action in the same way that a literal mother responds to her baby’s cry. Positively, the Girlfriend is also capable of enjoying the emotional peaks in the relationship in a more immediate way. Because there is no rational mediator between the Girlfriend and the relationship (her Creature), she can be easily swept up in the ecstatic highs of a harmoniously bonded union. Hence, unless both persons are capable of becoming the Girlfriend on occasion, only one of them will ever experience the ecstasy of unmediated union.
The ecstatic union between Mother and Creature can become a drug for the Girlfriend just as it can for the Mother (“Who am I without my baby?”), which explains the clingy girlfriend stereotype. Just as the baby will die without affection from a mother figure, so the relationship will perish without the emotional spark that the Girlfriend provides. When an arrangement between two partners becomes a matter of convenience or comfort, the Creature is already on its deathbed and the factors that keep the two together involve an entirely different set of Archetypes.
The Girlfriend can also manifest in a non-romantic relationship. Although she is easiest to spot in romance, she appears in any emotionally bonded interpersonal relationship. Emotional bonds are forged through the vulnerability of one party and the Motherly response to that vulnerability by the other party. In these instances, the other becomes a physical representation of the relationship itself: in the moments of vulnerability that our friends reveal to us, we see a helpless Creature calling for support and affection. If the Mother is sufficiently activated in us, we will rush in to scoop the Creature up and cradle it. In doing so, we may be outwardly nurturing our vulnerable friend, but we are inwardly incubating the relationship between ourselves and that friend. The Girlfriend’s response is not exclusive to friends, either. We often become parents to our parents and our children may one day become parents to us. Unless a mother can allow herself to become vulnerable in front of her grown children, the relationship will be impaired by an inappropriately one-sided Archetypal dynamic: the Mother who cannot let go of her Creature.
The Social Mother
The Social Mother views societal ills through the lens of her instinctive urge to quiet every crying Creature, to take it every stray. She rushes in to hold and guard the weak, the forgotten, and the underrepresented. The Social Mother is sometimes mislabeled as a Social Justice Warrior (SJW). Although these two Archetypal energies are synergistic, one will always be more prominent. Insofar as (for example) a non-profit organization’s (NPO) actions and motives arise from the intense and unthinking urge to take away the pains and ills of a downtrodden group, that NPO is a Mother rather than a Warrior. The Social Mother is distinct from the SJW insofar as the Warrior has a Cause and a Code of ethics. The Mother has no interest in these things; she sees them as formalities that come between her and the Creature. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is a classic example of a Social Mother, as its name implicitly indicates. Whereas a Social Warrior fights for justice, a Social Mother fights for safety.
The Social Mother, however, is not always involved in fight. In fact, the Social Mother is more often a safe haven for the vulnerable. Shelters for homeless persons and domestic abuse victims are Social Mothers, as are hospice programs and refuges. The mortally wounded soldier famously calls out for his Mother because she is the great safe haven, the warm nest whose boundless care and attention can alone heal or at least mollify the pain of a mortal wound.
Social Mothers also tend to be healers of all kinds, whether psychic, spiritual, or physical. While there are other Archetypal elements to healing (such as the Muse), the act of being a healer is an expression of Motherhood: a healer attends to the vulnerable, seeking to provide in precisely the measure called for without a preconceived notion of the end result. Every healer knows that failure to heal is a very likely outcome, so the healer must be prepared to accept the Creature exactly as it is, even if that means accepting the Creature’s death.
Because the Creature can take so many different forms, Motherhood can arise in surprising places. A scientist who nurtures and protects his pet theory from criticism is a Social Mother, as is the entrepreneur who nursed her business into existence but cannot accept that it is failing.
The Social Mother plays another very important role in our world today, for she is the dreamer, the artist, the poet, the dancer, the fashionista, the designer. The Mother’s boundless storehouse of expression provides the aesthetic content that fills our minds with wonder and beauty. Without the Mother, no story moves us and no house feels like home. She gives the palpable substance that feeds and nourishes the mind and heart, communicating her storehouse of emotion through mere authenticity.
The Inner Mother
The Inner Mother is authentic self expression. The unconscious mind has two phases: the intuitive/receptive (the Débutante) and the nurturing/expressive (the Mother). The receptive phase of the unconscious mind embraces the desires and fascinations of the conscious self as a directive. The Ego seeks the Intuitive Unconscious self as a vehicle for expression and experience, just as the Intuitive Unconsious self longs for the Ego as a motivating force for expression and experience. The Ego and Intuition are equally lonely in their desire to unlock the potential inborn within them. The Expressive Unconscious, seeded and entrusted with the directive of the Ego, transforms the desires of the Ego into a complex expression that reveals the subtleties and implications laden in the Ego’s desire.
We want things. The more we focus upon this desire, the deeper we penetrate the Intuitive Unconscious to embed that seed into it. Once the desire takes root, it grows, revealing the secret nature that its memetic structure entails. Just as human babies begin as a single celled organism but emerge as a complex human body by virtue of the genetic code, so the Ego’s desire penetrates to the Unconscious womb, merges with the Unconscious, and through its memetic code grows into something far more wondrous than the simple and direct desire with which it began.
I, for example, wanted to understand the Archetypes systematically (yes, I’m using a self-referential example and I’m aware that that’s a faux pas). Since my desire actually took root in my Intuitive Unconscious, it grew unconsciously into a complex manifold of emotions, inspiring thoughts, and self-discoveries. During the years that I’ve incubated this seed desire, I’ve experienced numerous waves of surprising thoughts and feelings about what the Archetypes are, how they relate to us, and why they matter. I did not just “think” these thoughts as if I knew what the end result would look like and consciously figured it out; rather, these thoughts came to me. I never really know what my Expressive Unconscious will show me and I sometimes can’t make sense of it when I see it.
My example, however, is a very consciously engaged and positive example. The experience is not always so positive. I have heard that the phrase “I hope all your dreams come true,” is a traditional Arabic curse. The implication in the curse is that we have no idea how unpleasant the consequences of actually getting what we want can be. The Inner Mother is the expressive, emotional, and authentic self whose response to your experiences reveals to you the consequences of what you desired.
The Expressive Unconscious mind is inescapable. We are all expressing ourselves unconsciously at all times and we usually miss the ways in which we do so. Our mannerisms, word-choice, and emotions (however subtle) are all unconscious expressions of the authentic self. What we rarely appreciate is that these expressions were all seeded. We express ourselves to both ourselves and others as a function of what we wanted to experience. For example, when I was single and recently divorced, I simultaneously wanted deep romantic connection and casual sex. Anyone who knew me well could see this internal conflict in desire, so it was no surprise to them (and later to myself) that my unconscious expressions attracted an unhappy marriage of these two things: (a) Teases (because I wanted casual sex) who found me too intense (because I wanted deep connection), and (b) romantically charged friendships (because I wanted deep connection) that never actually capitulated into romance (because I wanted casual sex). I was unconsciously expressing myself in self-defeating ways, speaking, feeling and acting in ways that were disharmonious, which attracted women who mirrored to me exactly what I had seeded in my unconscious mind. That is, the memetic content of my desires did not produce as healthy a Creature as I would have liked – the Creature had a memetic defect. Had I seeded only casual sex or only deep romantic connection, my unconscious authentic expressions (which, again, we cannot help but feel and enact) would have attracted a healthier relationship with a woman. In fact, that is what happened. I am engaged, after all.
Because the Expressive Unconscious (the Inner Mother) wants to make the Ego’s desires come true, the emotions, surprising thoughts, and insights that we experience as a result of the Expressive Unconscious’ efforts to incubate your brain-child meet you in both the unmanifest (your inner voice and emotional states) and the manifest (your words, actions, and emotions) realities. Every new thought, every emotion, every attitude or mood that simply emerges as if out of nowhere is your Expressive Unconscious attempting to show you your baby. Because the Expressive Unconscious also has access to your unconscious body language, word-choice, posture, and other subtle communications (as psychotherapists well know), it will also attract to you persons who are themselves manifestations of your brain-child. How we feel about others is likewise how we feel about ourselves in some way or another, and all of it is the psychic Creature we have unconsciously birthed, a Creature whose memetic material is laden within our own conscious desires.
The Creature, however, is not the same as the Mother, so the efforts of our Expressive Unconscious minds to attract the Creature to you do not necessarily reflect you exactly. Only a manifestation of the Expressive Unconscious itself can accomplish that task. Our romantic partners usually play this role, reflecting not just the Creature of the romance back to us, but the Inner Mother herself. Romantic manifestations of the Expressive Unconscious are a natural result of the dynamics of the inner alchemy: at some point, the Ego says to the Intuitive Unconscious: “I want to know you, not just your Creature.”
As a Mother will sing to her Creature, nurturing the Creature with complex patterns that it does not yet understand, but which still operate on the Creature unconsciously, so the Expressive Unconscious also sings to us in our dreams. Thereby, she shows us our Creature on the one hand, and nurtures us as the Creature on the other. In the inner dialog, the nurturing Mother is the gentle, accepting, loving self that sees us as already worthy and deserving of love; whereas, the expressive Mother intercedes with the Father (Super-Ego) on behalf of the Creature. In its role as the nurturing Mother, psychologists sometimes mistakenly lump the inner voice of the Expressive Unconscious into the Super-Ego, whose domain is properly Fatherly.
The Interpersonal Father
The Boyfriend is the most obvious instance of the Interpersonal Father. Even platonic friendships between males and females often take on the Mother/Father dynamic because (a) the resources of these Archetypes are essential for emotional bonding and (b) males and females tend to express the Archetypes associated with their genders more easily.
The Boyfriend must learn to live with his Girlfriend, who is the living representative of the Creature, or the relationship between them. In response to her many emotional outpourings, confusing impulses, and aesthetic expressions, the Boyfriend is charged with making sense of his Girlfriend. Whether he accepts her as she is is not necessarily at stake; rather, he must accept that this relationship is indeed what he wanted and take responsibility for all of the consequences of it. The Boyfriend, as a bastion of reason, must adapt his thinking to accommodate his Girlfriend, to stabilize the relationship by navigating the tide of emotion and expression that emerges from his Girlfriend.
The Boyfriend will never quite understand his Girlfriend, and he secretly prefers it that way. The only reason he wanted a Girlfriend in the first place was to learn to make sense of something he didn’t understand. What the Boyfriend sees in his relationship with the Girlfriend is an opportunity to claim ownership and give direction through carefully reasoned rules, improving thereby what was rough and undisciplined between them. (It is important to note here that males and females must be both Girlfriend and Boyfriend to each other. That one of these roles comes more easily to each of us is obvious, yet while I may normally be the Boyfriend to my fiancée, I sometimes get the opportunity to play the Girlfriend.)
The Boyfriend wants to put the Girlfriend’s energy and passion to constructive use, so that her spark may light a fire of organized creativity. Without the Boyfriend’s consistent influence, the relationship becomes stagnant and cyclic. The emotional turbulence remains unresolved and the two persons do not grow, even if they do manage to express themselves to each other honestly thanks to the Girlfriend’s influence.
Romance is not the only form of one-on-one interpersonal relationship. In non-romantic environments, the Father commonly manifests as authority figures who “take you under their wing.” In this process of grooming, whether professional or not, the Father-Creature relationship allows the Older Brother to impart rules and advice to the Younger Sibling, while the Younger Sibling is receptive and willing to accept the Older Brother’s rules as authoritative.
The Social Father
The Social Father is most obviously represented by government and the legal system. However, any system of rules is effectively a Social Father. My Social Father growing up was the Catholic Church, whose many, many rules and guidelines offered a very structured avenue for growth. The Catholic Church, however, is also a Story-Teller. The key distinction between a Father and a Story-Teller is that the Father gives imperatives or rules (philosophers call this “normativity”), while the Story-Teller merely describes. The “Patriarchy,” as Feminist Theory relates, is a very clear instance of the Father at work. Patriarchal attitudes revolve around a story in which males are superior to females, but what makes the Patriarchy Fatherly is that it enforces those attitudes.
The Social Father, then, is easy to see in any evangelical religion, for what else drives the active attempt to spread a religion except that it is “right,” a concept which is not far afield from the highest rational validation the Father can give: “truth.” For the Father, truth and rightness are indistinguishable, so the Father sees dynamic movement from less-right to more-right (or at least less-wrong) as unquestionably desirable. Virtually all authoritative institutions make use of the concept of moral rightness without reflecting on its implications. After all, if my rules are the right rules, then making them your rules also is a clear sign of progress. As long as you accept the Social Father’s ownership of you (i.e. by saying, “I am a Baptist” or “I am an atheist” or “I am a conservative” or whatever), the Social Father has free reign to issue moral imperatives to you.
The Social Father is easy to see in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) careers. Insofar as STEM subjects revolve around organization, structure, logical thought, and rational calculus, they embody the essence of the Father. The Father is intensely concerned with the structure of his thought, so much so that when he discovers an inconsistency in his thinking, as mathematical logic discovered in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, he pours all of his energy into re-thinking his system so that the inconsistency is resolved. In this sense, the Social Father is indispensable. He ensures that our thought-patterns are “correct,” that our rules make sense, and that all of these structures serve to improve our society.
The Inner Father
Those of us who still follow the dictates of a Social Father as a matter of course are still only adolescents. The Inner Father, or the “Super-Ego,” to use modern psychology’s confused name for this element of the psyche, is the Self that consciously claims responsibility for itself, deciding for itself who it is and which rules it shall follow. If a person’s Inner Father is left unactivated, then he will willingly give himself over to all manner of dogmatic obedience. Into social identity claims such as “I am a rationalist,” he embeds hidden Archetypal truths: “I am a member of the rationalist way of thinking and I follow its rules.” As the Inner Father begins to assert its own authority, the Self ceases to adopt rules from Outer Fathers, whether Social, Interpersonal, or literal. He thereby becomes a sovereign, a law unto himself.
For the Inner Father, the Creature is any thought, emotional, mood, attitude, or other input. The Inner Father knows of no irrelevant piece of data. Just as a literal father demands honesty from his children, so the Inner Father insists upon the same from his Inner Creature. Without an honest assessment of the Self, the rules for self-expression cannot hope to succeed. Above Plato’s Academy the inscription “Know Thyself,” warned potential students not to bother unless they had activated the Inner Father who is prepared to know and claim responsibility for what is his own.
The Inner Creature, of course, can be anything, but its domain is entirely conceptual/emotional. The Creature is a natural expression of the Ego’s seed desire combined with the unique contents of the Unconscious. Whatever you discover yourself to feel and think about yourself and others (including strengths, weaknesses, emotional complexes, desires, identity, etc.) is the grown and living expression of the experiences you wanted, however conflicted your desires may have been. The Inner Father always says to himself, “I chose this,” and he can see exactly how that choice was made.
In owning his brain-child, the Inner Father (Super-Ego) claims responsibility for it and becomes thereby invested with the power to improve it. Whereas the Expressive Unconscious has no resource for clarifying and directing her expressions, the Super-Ego has no resource for inventing expression. As the Expressive Unconscious gives emotional and conceptual material to work with, so the Super-Ego actually does the work. In the Expressive Unconscious, the Super-Ego sees a Self that does not make sense. He sees misplaced priorities, undue weight given to certain emotions, and impulses that are only tangentially related to what he conceives as his identity. When we ask ourselves, “Why do I keep pushing her away?” or “I know I don’t care that much about glory, so why do I still seek it?” or “How can I make sense of my sexuality?” we speak as the Super-Ego looking upon the contents offered by the Expressive Unconscious, and attempting to piece together a coherent set of rules that will employ these inner passions in more harmonious ways. Above all things, the Super-Ego wants sanity.
The Super-Ego will only be successful in his efforts if he is honest with himself, and to be honest with yourself is to take responsibility for what is yours. If the Expressive Unconscious reveals herself to be petty or short-sighted, the Super-Ego must be willing to say, “Yep, that was petty of me,” or “I was definitely short-sighted there.” The stronger we become at this form of radical responsibility through inner honesty, the more the outer world will perceive us as strong Fathers, and the more Creatures will pledge themselves into our responsibility.
The Super-Ego’s dependence upon honest self-assessment is nowhere clearer than in the use of his powerful intellect. The logical rules he applies to himself will be meaningless and impotent if he does not pay attention to the Creature (or “complex,” as psychoanalysts call the Inner Creature) his Expressive Unconscious is showing him. His rules must be specifically adapted to the emotional and conceptual material he is working with (i.e. his Identity as described by the Storyteller).
The Virtuous Mother and Father
If you have read Chapter 3, “The Crisis of Direction,” then you are already familiar with my usage of the terms “virtue,” “vice,” “good,” “evil,” “right,” and “wrong.” If you have not read this, then I’ll very briefly recap: Right and wrong depend entirely on subjective desire (or will or inclination, whichever word you prefer). Good and Evil are the two internally coherent moral directions, characterized by how you treat both yourself and others. If you view yourself and others as having value, autonomy, and beauty just by virtue of existing, then you align with moral Good. If you view yourself and others as objects to be subjected to your ideas, ideals and attitudes, then you align with moral Evil. Neither direction is inherently “right,” because we must each choose which of these morally coherent directions matches the inner inclination. Virtue and vice name the functionality or dysfunctionality of the Self in response to the presence or absence of moral coherence. Hence, to be virtuous is to choose either Good or Evil to the exclusion of the other; whereas, to be vicious is to fail to choose. Virtue and vice are not an on-off switch because the purity of our choice of moral direction is a sliding scale. Although we do tend to choose in an absolute sense (we unequivocally prefer one to the other), we have difficulty committing to this choice to the exclusion of the other. I assume that everyone reading this article has chosen Good (because those are the sort I attract), but there are still parts of us that incline towards Evil. Those of us who love and respect others but sometimes try to control them are morally Good, but lack some purity. The Virtuous Archetypes show us what it looks like to choose a moral alignment purely, without inclusion of the elements of the opposite moral alignment.
The Good Mother
The Good Mother, whom I call the Loving Mother, loves her Creature exactly as it is. She sees endless possibility in it, recognizing immediately all the many attributes the Creature might grow up to have, and she loves them all. Every time the Creature expresses itself in a new way, the Loving Mother’s love for her Creature grows. Every time the Creature tries and fails, the Loving Mother takes it into her arms and reminds it that no failure could ever take her love away from it. She gives her Creature a foundation of infinite value, a stable center that can never be shaken loose no matter how difficult the circumstances become.
The Loving Mother knows when to let go. In the case of a child, she knows she must send him off into the world once he has come to term. In the case of a relationship, she knows that sometimes a relationship doesn’t live as long as a human being. She wants nothing more than a peaceful and loving departure, reminding her Creature that she will never forget their time together. Even in death, the Loving Mother has nothing but appreciation and acceptance for her Creature. Every Loving Mother must face death: to send her Creature off into the world is a kind of death for her, so she must be prepared to say farewell without holding the Creature back.
Interpersonally, the Loving Mother is never afraid to express herself honestly. She sees endless virtue in the relationship and she will do everything in her power to ensure that it is given the space to become strong and stable. She communicates the needs of the relationship without hesitation because she knows she must be the voice of the Creature until it is sturdy enough to speak for itself. The Loving Mother, then, becomes vulnerable in the place of the Creature, giving voice to the needs and weaknesses of the relationship where the Boyfriend may not see them himself.
On the inner level, the Good Expressive Unconscious must be given freedom to speak. When we allow ourselves to be candid, authentic, and vulnerable with ourselves, accepting that these emotions exist and are a part of us, we are the Loving Mother moving instinctively toward the vulnerable Creature that cries for care. The Loving Mother has an authentic and unrestrained ability to express the unconscious reality through emotion, thought, word, etc., as well as an acceptance of that expression. The Inner Loving Mother can be vulnerable to itself and it can also nurture that vulnerable self until it reaches term.
The Good Social Mother is instantiated by social support and haven institutions that are designed to nurture and shelter without fostering dependency. The Good Social Mother wants to see her Creature fly, so she knows that her shelter is only temporary. Homeless shelters and halfway houses that offer counseling, teach homesteading, and encourage resource-management are instances of Good Social Mothers. In most cases, what makes for a Good Social Mother is a funding model that discourages dependency. NPOs that are rewarded for success in raising up the downtrodden rather than merely taking them in will all tend toward a pure moral positivity.
Brené Brown’s discussion of empathy is a vivid characterization of the Loving Mother at work.
The Evil Mother
The Evil Mother has a plan for her Creature. I call her the Manipulative Mother. The plan of the Manipulative Mother is not a step-by-step agenda; rather, she has a vision of what she wants her Creature to be, so she navigates from here to there adaptively in order to make sure that her Creature will be her own. The Manipulative Mother wants her Creature to serve her to the death. Jung said that “where love is lacking, power fills the vacuum” (CW 9 pt. 1, 168)—a statement which characterizes the two coherent moral directions generally and the Manipulative Mother specifically. Because she does not see her Creature as worthy of love and acceptance in its own right, she can only perceive in the Creature a means for power acquisition.
The Manipulative Mother sees herself as doing the Creature a favor because the Creature can not function in the world without support. Insofar as the Creature follows its Mother’s programme it will be rewarded with support. If it deviates from the modes of expression of which the Manipulative Mother approves, it will be punished. Just as the Manipulative Mother seeks power, she raises her Creature to seek power through her rewards and punishments. She demands that her Creature conforms to her vision of who it will become, but she also promises her Creature the reward of becoming the instrument of her glory.
When the Manipulative Mother releases the Creature into the world, she does so only when she is sure the Creature measures up to her vision. The Creature will be a symbol of her power and prestige, an arrow that points back to her, for she knows that when the Creature is in need, it will always return to her and she will have the opportunity to reassert the contingency of her support to him. The Creature must always be aware that Mother will only support it if it becomes who she wants it to be. Whereas the Loving Mother consciously avoids fostering a dependent Creation, the Manipulative Mother consciously forges dependency in her Creature. The Manipulative Mother wants her Creature to be utterly dependent upon her for acceptance, but independent otherwise.
On the interpersonal level, the Manipulative Girlfriend takes an equally withholding stance toward the Boyfriend, who is an symbolic expression of the relationship itself. Her punishment is circumstantial, depending entirely on whether the Boyfriend is measuring up to her vision of who he should be. In the eyes of the Manipulative Girlfriend, weakness must be isolated, insulted and punished because the Boyfriend must be strong enough to enter the world as her vehicle of conquest.
On the inner level, the Expressive Unconscious invites punishment and shaming for its weaknesses and reward and praise for its strengths. Having responded to the Ego’s desire for power and control, the Unconscious reveals its weaknesses and strengths, asking to be punished and rewarded for them. Inasmuch as the Manipulative Mother is a sadist (flogging her Creature), she is also a masochist (inviting flogging upon herself). Her relationship with her Creature is a reflection of the relationship she wants with the Evil Father: if he is not strong enough to subdue her as she subdues her Creature, then he will become her Creature and she will find a stronger Father. In inner terms, this is a relationship of dominance, submission, and repression. The Evil Expressive Unconscious wants to be taken by force, but if the Super-Ego is not strong enough to subdue her, he will become her thrall. Hence, if we cannot overcome our unconscious inclinations through sheer willpower, the inclinations seize us as addictions and compulsory urges. Until the Super-Ego can reinvent itself, it will remain in the shameful position as thrall to the Expressive Unconscious. If, however, the Super-Ego is strong enough to overpower the Expressive Unconscious, then he will divert her emotions and inclinations, pushing them deeper into the Unconscious until he decides the time is right for their expression, when they will burst forth in a blinding fury. The Evil Expressive Unconscious feels most powerful and most fulfilled as a trained attack-dog on a short leash. When her master gives the word, she will happily shred her prey.
The Evil Social Mother is the machinery of social shaming. According to the Social Manipulative Mother, shame is the only way to ensure that your Creature will become who you want him to be. It is the necessary flip-side of the reward coin.
The Good Father
The Loving Father trusts the heart of his Creature, so he feels no need to lead the Creature where he thinks it ought to go. The Loving Father gives his Creature boundless respect and receives the same in return. In his Creature, the Loving Father sees beauty and potential, so his purpose is to give it not a rigid code, but a flexible set of tools. The Loving Father’s rules are not categorical imperatives like Kant imagined; rather, they are hypothetical. Instead of, “You must do Y,” he says, “If you want X, then you must do Y.” He offers these hypothetical imperatives not as ultimatums but as simple explanations of the mechanics of the mind. Only in the case that the Creature cannot grasp the Father’s reasoning will the Loving Father resort to a categorical imperative, and even then he does so with the intention to inform his Creature of the hypothetical when it is capable of understanding.
In his love for his child, a literal father informs her as honestly as possible of the treasures and dangers of the world. He relates to her the rules with which she was born, the rules that she follows because she is human and without which she would cease to be so. He tells her how her conscious and unconscious work together, how reason and intuition collaborate. The Loving Father seeks not to control or deceive, but to empower through discipline.
There is no human experience that does not follow rules. The philosopher’s flimsy picture of a fantasy world without rules is best captured by the famous phrase a “blooming buzzing confusion.” Although the Creature usually rebels against the rules of the Father, she is doomed to develop rules of her own. A Loving Father knows this and accepts that his rule will eventually be displaced by the Father within his Creature.
The Loving Father does much more than establish rules, though. He blesses every single expression of his Creature, validating every thought and emotion. He listens to what his child believes and feels, what she invents and discards, telling her that all of it is good. When she wants to move forward, he helps her identify her weaknesses and works with her to build them into strengths, but only at her own pace and only in her own idiom. The last thing the Loving Father wants is to overpower his Creature, supplanting its will with his own. The Loving Father is patient and persistent because he knows how far the Creature still has to go. As the Loving Mother perceives the Creature’s perfection and blesses it, the Loving Father perceives the Creature’s imperfection and blesses it also. He knows that there is no experience without growth, progress, forward movement, so he is not worried that his Creature will get lost. Indeed, he counts on it getting lost. How else will it learn? When the prodigal child finally returns home to the Father, he will take her in joyfully because she will finally be able to listen to him and understand.
Above all, the Loving Father recognizes the need for balance. Whereas the Loving Mother does not filter her emotive and aesthetic expressions, the Loving Father is aware at all times of the importance of ensuring that the filter (the rules) through which all expression is passed gives equal weight to all matters. As the Mother’s role is to incubate and support the Creature, the Father’s role is to prepare the Creature for entry into the world. The primary means through which the Loving Father prepares his Creature is the balance of his approach. Each of us has a sense that a “well rounded” education is important to every Creature, and it is the Father Archetype within who instills this value in us.
Interpersonally, the Loving Father can be found in healthy romantic relationships. He is the Boyfriend who loves his Girlfriend but does not want to change her. Rather, he can see that she already wants to change, so he is there to help her find direction in her own idiom and at her own pace. Wherever he sees in her an emotional complex or a belief that she does not want to change, he will let it be as it is, even if he can see its inconsistencies and imperfections. His purpose is not to mold her into a perfectly rational creature; to do so would stifle her passionate spark. Rather, he adapts his methods to her needs. The rules he provides to her are hypothetical, leaving her the space to decide if she really wants the change she thinks she wants based on whether she is willing to obey the rules that will lead to that change. When his Girlfriend comes to him upset or confused, the Loving Boyfriend will help balance her unhappy feelings or clear her confusion. In non-romantic settings, the Interpersonal Loving Father is best instantiated by therapists and coaches.
The Social Loving Father can sometimes be found in religious entities. The most prominent example I ever found was a Buddhist Temple where I was accepted as I was, offered direction, and greeted without guile. The Loving Father is hard to see in the world today because dogma (categorical rule) is so prominent. Every other religion I explored wanted me to adopt their dogmas; whereas the Buddhist monk who kept the temple had no such intention. Insofar as a teacher extends his practice beyond the specific subject into mentoring, he acts as a Father on the social level. The Social Loving Father is found in theoretical disciplines insofar as the theory is motivated by the pursuit if inner wholeness. Where theory becomes practical and helpful, there the Social Loving Father is found.
“Leadership” is a nearly ubiquitous buzzword in the corporate world today. Although it is usually a subject of lip-service rather than embodiment, it is a picture of the Social Loving Father. According to the substantial literature on Leadership: a leader is usually right but admits when he is wrong, he encourages creativity, he fosters autonomy, he encourages and occasionally commands but does not resort to threats, he follows through, and he is always present and available.
On the Inner level, the Loving Father is a gentle Super-Ego. He does not make demands upon the Expressive Unconscious, nor does he reject her expressions (the Creature). The Loving Super-Ego accepts the unconscious as beautiful. As Michaelangelo said, “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” The Super-Ego cannot discover the statue inside the Expressive Unconscious unless he allows her to be as she is. He must use his reason and rules to slowly cut away the excess without destroying the buried statue. The Good Father within is the Super-Ego that is honest but kind, intelligent but not demeaning, firm but sympathetic.
As a Loving Super-Ego, I may know that my feelings don’t make any sense, but that does not make them any less important or worthy. Instead of assuming that a part of me is just stupid or crazy, I take the time to reflect on how I feel. I look for the many hidden elements of these complexes of which I can only see small fragments emerging from the waters of the Unconscious mind. As I must be respectful with other human beings, so I must also be respectful with my Expressive Unconscious: when she is upset I take the time to sit with her; when she wants to express herself I help her find the words; and when she doesn’t want to do what I think must be done I look for a win-win solution.
I have found that only when we appreciate that there are two persons within our minds do we genuinely commit to treating ourselves kindly and respectfully.
John Demartini’s breakdown of depression is an excellent example of what a Loving Father contributes that no one else can.
The Evil Father
The Evil Father is the Tyrant. He has no interest in the free choice of his Creature because he does not see her as an independent entity. Rather, he recognizes his Creature as a possession of which he may either be proud or embarrassed. Insofar as a Father’s love is conditional, that Father is himself instantiating the Tyrant. For the Tyrant, the Creature is only lovable if she conforms to his mold. If she does not conform or cannot conform, she faces devaluation and disownment. A true Tyrant will ruthlessly cut out anything of which he does not approve, and if this means abandoning a Creature then so be it.
The Tyrant is not afraid of others questioning his authority; rather, he is wary. He is aware that the extent of his own dominion is a threat to the dominion of any other potential Tyrant so, like a male Lion, he will hunt down and eliminate any threats to his territory. This is far from a chore for the Tyrant; he relishes the hunt. If the Manipulative Mother proves to be a masochist at heart, then the Tyrant proves to be a sadist. He would never have the resilience to excoriate so many of his Creatures if he did not enjoy tormenting them when they do not live up to his extremely high standards. The Tyrant demands that his Creatures obey his rules and suffer his reign, promising in return that they will inherit his kingdom when he moves on to bigger and better things.
Interpersonally, the Tyrant is well depicted in sadomasochist literature. The ruthless master who uses and abuses sex slaves through their own free will is a classic picture of the Tyrant. The Tyrant gives no leeway. He is confident that his own will is unbreakable, that its strength will be sufficient to cut away anything he disapproves of in his Creatures. The Tyrant also cultivates a hierarchy, so some of his Creatures will be heavily abused, while others will be considered elite and trained as heirs to his kingdom.
Socially, the Tyrant is the security state, especially in its more sinister and clandestine manifestations such as the CIA and NSA. Hierarchical supremacy and absolute obedience are key elements of Tyranny, so the structure of most modern military institutions is very conducive to leadership through Tyranny rather than through the Loving Father, and the same is true of hierarchical corporate and political systems. At its most extreme, the Social Tyrant takes the appearance of fascism. We never see Tyrants in the senate or at conferences because the openness of these venues prevents him from exerting his authority. Instead, the Tyrant prefers high office with only a few direct subordinates over whom he may exert absolute control. He will listen to his subordinates if their input is worthy and they do not threaten his rule, but if they prove to be weak, impotent, or mutinous, they will be quickly replaced. We have seen this Tyrant many times over in children’s television shows and movies, though he is rarely depicted with the clam ruthlessness and cunning that real instances of him possess.
The Inner Tyrant is the perfectly repressive Super-Ego. When the Super-Ego looks upon its Unconscious with a cold and judging eye, strengths and weaknesses no longer appear as equal in value. Where the Tyrant sees a strength he rewards it, and where he sees a weakness he stamps it out without hesitation. A tyrannical Super-Ego can not afford to entertain guilty pleasures and moments of weakness. In these cases the only response that does not threaten the Super-Ego’s authority is extreme punishment, whether through self-belittlement or enforced hardship.
The Vicious Mother and Father
An Archetype can become viciously distorted in two ways: over-expression or under-expression. Because virtue lies in the balance between these two polar opposite vices, I call over-expression “positive unbalance” and under-expression “negative unbalance.”
We become vicious when our moral attitudes are confused. Confusion most often takes the form of perceiving ourselves as Good but employing Evil methodology. Our moral attitudes become confused (a) in response to the confused environment into which we are born, and (b) as an expression of our inborn personality dynamics (which I have elsewhere called the “Daemon”). In short, we are confused beings entering a confused world, so we all end up vicious. This is a natural state of affairs, which is why the Zen Buddhists constantly remind us that nothing is wrong.
The Positive Unbalanced Mother
Because her identity depends upon her Creature, she also has countless hopes and dreams for him. Having sacrificed everything for this Creature, he must make up for her own deficiencies by living out the life she would have chosen for herself if she were not a Mother. Her over-identification with the Mother Archetype prevents her from truly accepting her Creature as he is, just as it prevents her from letting him go when he is grown. She is, however, equally addicted to the ecstatic love between her and the Creature. Her vicious moral incoherence lies in her simultaneous attempt both to control the Creature’s life and to accept and love him as he is.
If the Creature deviates or shows signs of not living up to her extravagant dreams, the Overbearing Mother will unconsciously punish her Creature, justifying it as being “for his own good.” Because she is so generous with her affection, the Creature will feel beholden to his Mother, leaving him with a strong desire to give her what she wants even if that means sacrificing his own identity. As always, the Mother unconsciously creates the conditions that incline the Creature to be mimic her own qualities.
The Interpersonal Overbearing Mother is the Clingy Girlfriend. She gives generously to her Boyfriend in affection, material, and praise – as long as he lives up to her vision of who he ought to be. She has thrown herself fully into the relationship, so the cost to her is losing herself. All of her bets are on the Boyfriend as a symbol of the relationship. Her emotional expressions can be overpowering, but her affection is intoxicating. She wants to love him as he is and she wants him to accept her as she is, but she is so invested in the relationship that she cannot make good on her promise. In her desperation to preserve the relationship, she can be surprisingly manipulative.
The Social Overbearing Mother is Big Sis. The force in institutional governance—whether private or public—that dictates what is safe and acceptable, rewarding compliance through social acceptance is the Overbearing Mother in action. She is not above shaming, but she genuinely wants her Creatures to live happy lives. Her method is typically to pad every room to make sure that no one can hurt anyone else.
On the Inner level, the Overbearing Mother is afraid to take risks because she is committed to the life she has now and cannot imagine anything else. She will not let herself stray too far into the wild because this would leave her vulnerable. This vicious Inner Expressive Unconscious sees itself as a Creature in need of care and is not prepared to let the Inner Creature venture out into the world for fear that it will get lost or even killed. In her preservation of the Inner Creature, the Overbearing Expressive Unconscious mind prevents herself from being vulnerable, eliminating the possibility of authentic self-expression.
The Negative Unbalanced Mother
The Negligent Mother fails to establish a strong emotional bond with her Creature. She does not want to be apathetic toward him; she just is. Her inability to bond with the Creature emerges from her own unconscious concerns: if she has been abandoned herself, she may block herself from bonding with another whom she fears will also abandon her. Because she knows she is responsible for this Creature, she gives her Creature the bare minimum of attention, preferring instead to distract and self-medicate. Only on rare occasions is she able to muster the enthusiasm and love that are more appropriate to the Mother.
Because she sees herself as a Good person she wants to love and nurture the Creature, but because she has so many other problems that take priority she cannot help herself when she uses the Creature for her own gain. The Negligent Mother withholds so much from her Creature that the few occasions on which she is generous become glowing moments in the Creature’s memory. These precious few moments are what keeps the Creature returning to the Negligent Mother, hoping for just one more.
The Interpersonal Negligent Mother is an Ice Queen. On occasion she will be affectionate, loving and tender, but she is usually cold and unsupportive. The Boyfriend secretly knows that this relationship is hopeless, but he, like the neglected Creature, still hopes that she will one day come around and learn to love him. She takes herself to be a Good person because her Boyfriend sticks around, but she feels guilty that she doesn’t care about him as much as he cares about her. Her guilt typically capitulates into shaming him for being so attached to her and/or cheating on him to buffer what she perceives as his inevitable abandonment.
On the Social level, the Negligent Mother manifests, for example, in continually deteriorating company-employee loyalty. Companies offer fewer and fewer benefits to employees who see fewer and fewer reasons to remain at any one company. On both sides, abandonment seems to be eminent, so neither side allows itself to be vulnerable to the possible abandonment of the other—thus increasing the likelihood of abandonment.
On the Inner level, the Negligent Mother is the Expressive Unconscious that rejects her Creature. Such a vicious Unconscious mind consistently undermines the Ego’s desire by pushing away everything the Ego wants. Internalized fear of abandonment leads to an unconscious helplessness: the Negligent Expressive Unconscious mind does not intend to abandon and push others away, but it happens anyway. The Unconscious just can’t help itself. The Unconscious will lash out at the Self for being needy. It will invent reasons to lash out at others, just to keep them at a safe distance and to prevent revealing a vulnerable self ripe for yet another abandonment.
The tendencies of both the Overbearing Mother and the Negligent Mother lead to resentment complexes due to their conflicting desires. The Overbearing Mother wants the freedom to live out her own life and resents the Creature for preventing it. Simultaneously, she clings to the Creature for her identity and the Creature resents her for preventing him from freely expressing himself. The Negligent Mother wants to care more about her Creature and resents him for not being more lovable. Simultaneously, she wishes she never had the him and he resents her for being gone so much.
The Positive Unbalanced Father
His strict sense of moral rectitude is for him simultaneously a moral fortress and a moral prison. On one hand it keeps evil at bay, preserving the Rigid Father’s sense of integrity, but on the other hand it locks passion out, preventing the starving and shivering self within from accessing the fiery allure of the forbidden. The Rigid Father does not mean to either imprison or protect—that is the Warrior’s job (which our fathers usually are also)—instead he seeks to teach and instill the rules of thought that have allowed him to navigate his way through life’s maelstrom of emotions and ideas. He knows that everyone needs rules in order to have a fulfilling life, but he does not realize that his own rules are morally confused.
The Rigid Father’s judgments are harsh and uncompromising, for belittling his family keeps them afraid and fear prevents people from breaking the rules. Whereas a policeman who cites you for speeding when you are only going 5mph over the limit is a vicious (positive) Warrior, he becomes a Rigid Father when he also judges you for it. Moral judgment is not the policeman’s job, of course. That is for the Judge, who is often a living instance of the Social Rigid Father.
The Rigid Father is a dogma unto himself, but he is only projecting the weak nature of his Inner Father, whose authority comes from elsewhere. The Rigid Father appropriates a set of rules that he learned from his own Father figures, the most prominent of which are dogmatic religions and ideologies. A Rigid Father is not strong in his own right (hence, he is vicious), but is merely a mouthpiece for his perceived superior whose rules he dogmatically adopts. The Rigid Father is obsessed with the correctness of his dogma because it is the only Father he knows. To him, the worst fate of all is to be wrong, so he must always make sure that he is right, so in addition to being a rigid authority, he is usually also a know-it-all. To him, admitting that he is wrong or that there is something he hasn’t already thought of is tantamount to confessing that he is no authority at all. Inconceivable.
The Interpersonal Rigid Father is the Controlling Boyfriend. He doesn’t think he is being controlling or tyrannical, even if he in fact is. Rather, he believes his Girlfriend needs discipline, structure and law, so he demands it of her. He is no more rigid with her than he is with himself. However, whereas he forgives himself for breaking his own rules by hiding his violations from himself through rationalization and denial, his Girlfriend cannot so easily hide her violations of his rule from him, so he unconsciously takes out his moral condemnation of himself upon her.
The Social Rigid Father is dogmatic institutional governance. The Feminists rightly call this “Patriarchy.” Dogmatic and judgmental religions are Rigid Fathers, as are dogmatic ideologies such as what I call “scientism” (“I believe in science”). Conservative Presidents of the United States are also often Rigid Fathers—George W. Bush comes to mind. We also see Social Rigid Fathers in micromanaging supervisors who enforce an endless list of rules that belittle their employees.
Like all Rigid Fathers, the Inner Rigid Father is a puppet for a Tyrant (Pink Floyd referred to them as “Dogs” in their album Animals), though he does not realize that this is so. He adopts his rules from somewhere else because he does not trust his own ability to make moral judgments for himself. His picture of reality is appropriated dogmatically from the source that has given him the most traction, and he is afraid to abandon this moral authority for fear of the horrible sins that may arise if he did so. He is the classic scrupulous Super-Ego whose withering criticism forces the Expressive Unconscious to cower in a corner for fear that she will be told yet again how wrong her expressions are.
The Negative Unbalanced Father
The Absent Father does not recognize his baby when the Mother shows it to him. He insists that it belongs to someone else, that it is someone else’s fault. Where the Rigid Father refuses to admit he is wrong, the Absent Father refuses to admit his responsibility. We see him everywhere. Anyone who cannot see his own failings, his own misdeeds, and the multifarious ways in which he invites tragedy upon himself (or herself) is an Absent Father.
Everything we do, everything we say, and everything we affect in the world around us is an expression of who we are. All the unfortunate events that befall us contain messages to us indicating that we got what we wanted but it didn’t turn out the way we expected. By the same token, all the beauty and harmony that we find around ourselves is an expression of the beautiful self within whose beloved visage we always and everywhere seek. Because the Absent Father will not accept the former, he is not allowed to enjoy the latter. In his wake, all the Absent Father sees is bad luck and vicious people who seem to find him at every turn. He comes to believe that the world is a shithole because he can’t see anything positive in it: all people (but especially women) are crazy, selfish, discourteous, and rude. That he is no different does not surprise him one bit, but at least he can claim that “I was born broken, and so was everyone else.” The Absent Father avoids responsibility with poise.
The Absent Father is a weak authority whose rules no one takes seriously because he makes no effort to live up to them, though he carefully hides this conflict from himself. He gives advice freely because it makes him feel like the authority he is not. When others ignore his advice, he simply takes this as more evidence that everyone is stupid and no one is an authority. Whereas the Rigid Father apes the authorities in his own life, the Absent Father flees from the authorities in his. He sees all outside authorities as a threats whose moral convictions are as flexible as his own. As he distrusts himself, so he distrusts authority.
On an Interpersonal level, the Absent Father is the unattached Boyfriend. He does not see in his Girlfriend the shared experience that they have already birthed together. For him all the problems in the relationship come from her, so when she gets dramatic he is inclined to leave. Because leaving his Girlfriend represents leaving everything bad in his life he is almost eager to do so.
The Social Absent Father is the employee who breaks all the rules through sheer negligence and lack of discipline. He work ethic is more than questionable but he adeptly blames everyone else for his own misconduct or even actively causes trouble just to make sure that no one looks like an authority. Whereas the Rigid Father is capable of holding a position of authority by aping those above him, the Absent Father is wholly incapable of this. Where a Rigid Father has an endless list of ad hoc blanket rules, the Absent Father has an endless list of excuses. Hence, the Social Absent Father does not make an appearance in authoritative positions, or if he does he quickly goes under through his highly ill-advised actions.
The Inner Absent Father is a weak Super-Ego. Persons who “have no willpower” have an Inner Absent Father. For him, the Father Archetype is weakly activated, most likely due to a literal absent father or due to his rejection of a Rigid Father. This Absent Super-Ego speaks just loudly enough for its rules to be heard, but the Expressive Unconscious can easily steamroll these rules. She knows by now that he pays no attention to her and that he cannot see that everything she shows him belongs to him, that all of her thoughts and feelings were seeds sown by him when he was a Suitor. The Absent Super-Ego spends all of his intellectual resources managing his considerable cognitive dissonance, courtesy of the abundance of evidence his Expressive Unconscious provides him—whether on the inner level through thoughts and feelings or on the outer level through his actions and circumstances—evidence that points directly to his own responsibility.
As the overriding features of Vicious Mothers bear all of the traits of Borderline Personality Disorder, the features of Vicious Fathers bear all of the traits of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. In short, these two disorders are extreme versions of Mother and Father complexes. Like any vicious Archetypal pattern, the positive and negative Vicious Fathers act as Shadows to each other. When stressed, the Rigid Father seeks to abdicate responsibility because that is the only way to avoid admitting he is wrong. When the Absent Father is stressed, however, he becomes shockingly judgmental and authoritarian because he can no longer avoid taking responsibility. These two vicious renditions of the Father never appear one without the other; rather, one is consciously enacted while the other is unconsciously repressed.
Relationship #2: Co-creating
“Co-creation” is a buzzword among New Agers, so I hesitate to use it. The term, however, does emphasize the cooperation between the Mother and Father in birthing and raising a Creature, so I will simply have to live with a buzzword. While the term does capture the cooperation between the two, it still needs explanation. To create is not merely to produce or to construct, though the emergence of something new is always at play. Creation is a two-stage process that continually reiterates itself until the Creature (if you will) is complete and independent. What makes the concept of creation distinct from production and construction is the eventual autonomy of the Creature. When we create, the Creature takes on a life of its own. Memes (not just captioned pictures, but all viral cognitive content) are Creatures in exactly this sense. Even public shaming on Twitter is a fertile bed for the unwitting Co-creation of cognitive Creatures.
So what does the Co-creative process look like? It is easiest to see on the familial level, but hardest to translate. We’ll begin there nevertheless.
The Familial Case
In literal terms, a child’s incubation lasts for years if we include the time a baby spends essentially suckling. Although a father can help attend to the baby, he is no more than a surrogate mother in these very tender years. On an Archetypal level, both parents must be a Mother to the newborn if they are to have any connection with it at all. The Father Archetype’s irrelevance will continue until the child’s rational processes begin to become apparent (four years old?). The moment a child begins to understand and apply rules, the Father Archetype awakens in the child and the literal father can finally settle into what may well be a more comfortable role for him. Although the child cannot grow mentally without using rule-based cognition, self-reflexivity is the necessary starting point for activation and constellation of the Father Archetype because it enables the child to identify and choose concerning rules.
Once the child is self-reflexive it is able to respond positively to the Father’s rules. The play of toddler-hood gives way to the emotional discovery of the elementary school age. Because the child received support and encouragement in all of his modes of expression in the previous phase, he is now able to begin self-reflexively locating his own identity and the aesthetic/emotional expressions associated with this reflexivity. A child who used to suck his thumb and play with blocks now experiences thrill, embarrassment, laughter, fear, shame, and all the other emotions that accompany awareness of himself as an individual among other individuals. The new world of self-reflection that opens up to the child as he begins to perceive his own Expressive Unconscious (or Inner Mother) is confusing and inexplicable. Whereas the child had previously been concerned only with comfort, suddenly identity, connection, and social status becomes more and more prominent in the child’s values. The Creature needs a Father.
The Mother-role is to incubate and support the child until his identity establishes itself and he becomes self-reflective; whereas, the Father-role is to prepare the child to enter the world independently. A six year old child may have a sense of identity, but he is still fragile and tender; it would be cruel and negligent to send a six year old child out into the world alone to find his way. He would surely be doomed to a tumultuous and probably short life. The Father must take the newly aware Creature under his wing, help him distinguish his thoughts and feelings from those of others, show him all the different kinds of thoughts and feelings that can be had, show him the differences between himself and others, help him explore his own expressive self. If the Mother nourishes and strengthens the Creature’s mental roots, then the Father strengthens his branches. The child must be able to interact and experience the world around him, but in order to do so, he needs inner tools. He needs techniques for addressing his own feelings, rules for handling situations, a vocabulary for identifying the parts of himself that need to be attended to (such as priorities, integrity, desire, focus, periphery, belief, etc.). The Father gives the Creature a map on which his present location, his goal, and the path to get there are all depicted. The Father knows that he cannot predict the child’s experiences, but he can at least equip him so that the surprises are not devastating shocks.
The General Case
All Co-creation follows the above pattern. When a development team meets to discuss a project, there are always two sorts: yea-sayers and nay-sayers. The yea-sayers overflow with ideas, happy to imagine lavishly and vividly. They are excited about the prospects for their project and eagerly heap their many ideas into a giant disorganized pile. The nay-sayers, however, are suspicious. Witnessing what looks to them like an imaginative orgy of untenable propositions, they are quick to raise doubts and concerns, pointing to practical problems and possible consequences. While they want to see the project succeed as much as anyone, they are keenly aware of the ways in which it may fail. The yea-sayers are the Mothers of the project and the nay-sayers are the Fathers. The Fathers must be careful not to smother the project in early criticism, just as the Mothers must be careful not to coddle the project by shielding it from later criticism. Both elements are necessary to a successful project.
This Co-creative dynamic follows the same patterns on the inner level. In my own writing, my Expressive Unconscious must have the chance to simply spill black onto white. If I am too critical and structured in this early stage, my words become robotic and lifeless. I must give my writing (the Creature) the space to find its own identity before I subject it to the Super-Ego’s structure and refinement. As writing goes, so all other art forms go.
Once the project is complete, it is presented to the world, whether it is a finished work of art, a published book, a stand-up comedian’s show, or a prototype space ship. No finished work ever elicits praise and ovation which did not have a Mother who believed in it without fail and a Father who was diligent and honest enough to equip it for success.
Co-creation does not have to be so ceremonious, though. We are all Co-creators whether we want to be or not. My fiancée and I have put many hours of care and labor into our house to make it a cozy, comfortable, uplifting environment for ourselves and those we entertain. We have each been Mother and Father to it in our own ways, and it has taken on a life of its own insofar as it is not the living space either of us would have chosen alone.
We can fruitfully bring the example of the living space closer to the stereotype. Standard male and female roles (enacted unconsciously in response to biology and social norm) yield a man who attends to the functionality of the house and a woman who attends to its aesthetic. Hence, a bachelor pad is classically a mere collection of gadgets that sorely needs a “woman’s touch.”
Co-Creation Is a Mental Activity
The difference between creation and production is the difference between mind and body. The parents are the mind, split into two personae (conscious and unconscious), whose meeting and eventual union produces the body, the Creature. Thus while the Inner Mother and Inner Father never manifest physically except in another person, their Creature is everywhere apparent.
It may seem confusing that mental acts capitulate into the physical realm, but the mind’s act of creating the body is not an ex nihilo affair. The body (the human body, nature, the home, the workplace, pets, friends, networks, etc.) is malleable. Its shape changes in response to the minds involvement, hence anything can be “made-over” if we enlist a new mind to mold the body. Co-creation is not the birthing of something from nothing; rather, it is the emerging of the mind’s potential into the manifest reality through the harmonious interaction of a Father and a Mother.
Freud and Jung both spoke extensively about complexes. I will let you read their writings if you want to know what they had to say about them; I have my own definition. A complex is a cluster of conflicting thoughts and feelings that surround an Archetype that has been incompletely activated or distorted within the Self. A complex usually arises because of a failure on behalf of the person who would naturally have activated the Archetype within you by instantiating it to you and allowing you to constellate it in them. The parents serve this function for nearly all of the Archetypes. Hence, if your parents were not perfect (and they never are), you developed some complexes in response to their deficiencies. It’s not as easy to damage a child as parents think, but it is also much easier to slip into a vicious Archetype than we realize. My mother had guilt issues surrounding the belt-whippings we got as children. Frankly, they left no psychic scar on me whatsoever. However, I never forgot the one time my mother let us know that she blamed our eating habits for her inability to afford a trip to Italy.
The older the complex, the more experiential baggage builds up around it like a thick layer of grime. In order to clear a complex, we must pierce and wash away the grime by examining and sorting through the thoughts and memories and by feeling the emotions we avoid feeling. Then we must reach for a virtuous version of the Archetype to incorporate into the Self in place of the vicious one. This process falls squarely within the domain of the Mother and Father Archetypes.
Considering how poorly we deal with our emotions on a cultural level, I might safely be able to say that the Mother and Father are the most distorted in us of all the Archetypes, and that each and every one of us must work through Mother and Father complexes or else suffer the same unhappy fates as our parents who unintentionally bequeathed these complexes to us.
Anyone who feels insecure, unworthy, or undeserving of love has a Mother complex. The type of vicious Mother a child had does not determine the child’s resulting complex. Thus, your Mother may have been Overbearing, but that doesn’t mean you will be an Overbearing Mother also. Rather, it means that you will react to her Overbearing nature in primarily one of two ways: you will identify with her and accept her model of the Mother Archetype as your own or you will dissociate from her and accept the model of her Shadow (the Negligent Mother) as your own. In any person with a Mother complex, one of these two responses will emerge. After all, what else can you do with a stifling Mother but either increase your devotion to her or reject her outright?
Conversely, anyone who feels overwhelmed by responsibility, overly sensitive to criticism, or obsessive about authority has a Father complex. Regardless of whether your father was more of a Tyrant or an Absent Father, your response will be to embody one or the other. That is, you will adopt as your inner version of the Father Archetype either the model that your Father portrayed to you or his Shadow model.
Parent-child psychology is, of course, more complex than this. Although our parents offer us the opportunity to constellate Archetypes upon them, we may opt not to do so. A child may constellate the Mother upon his nanny, his step-mother, a teacher who loved him unconditionally, or even a social organization that gave him shelter in a tender time of need. When he does so, she becomes the model for his unconscious activation of the Mother Archetype, rather than his birth mother. Similarly a child may constellate the Father elsewhere. In my case, the Catholic Church quickly became a more prominent Father to me than my birth father because its rules and dictates were sharper and more authoritative. Consequently, my inner Father took on the properties of the Church.
The psyche can be still more complex. A child may adopt his birth-mother’s model only in specific conditions (such as an inter-personal relationship), his nanny’s model in other conditions (such as with his own child), and a social shelter’s model in still other conditions (such as in his Inner dynamic). Although the Archetypes are few in number, their variations and combinations are effectively countless.
The Mother and Father Archetypes and their Co-creative Relationship serve a central function in the process of the inner movement from a state of imbalance and vice to a state of balance and virtue (called “integration” by Jungians, “spiritual evolution” by New Agers, and countless other names by countless other traditions, I’m sure). I have elsewhere called this function “emotional processing.” If there is only one thing I would have the reader take from this treatment of the Mother and Father, it is the importance of approaching emotional processing with virtuous inner Mother and Father models.
Communication between the Mother and Father always takes the shape of the Father processing the Mother’s expressiveness. There are many ways to do this but the basic elements are all the same. One way is alone in meditation. While you are in a meditative state, you will find yourself presented with thoughts and feelings. Most introductions to meditation tell you to simply let them pass until you reach a state of unthinking. This kind of meditation is beneficial for gaining inner silence and focus, but it is not beneficial for processing thoughts and emotions. The thoughts and feelings that arise in a meditative state are the Inner Mother’s expressions. When they arise, the Super-Ego must make sure he is paying attention because each passing expression is a rope-end, an opportunity to delve deeper into the feeling and to explore the complex. An experienced Super-Ego knows which questions to ask himself and how to respond to the answers the Expressive Unconscious gives. He knows, for example, to be very careful with “why” questions because they can raise the Mother’s defenses; he also knows to ask more than just “how” questions because she will begin to feel used if the Father only cares about action.
Before I continue, consider the consequences of thinking about yourself this way. You are not just one persona; you are two. The Mother (Expressive Unconscious) is always a baffling mystery to you, so do not assume you understand her anymore than you would assume you understand another human being. Yes, she wants to be understood, but the method for arriving at understanding is inquiry. You must show her you are interested in what she has to say rather than try to speak for her or to dictate to her what she is supposed to think and feel. When we scold ourselves or give ourselves ultimatums, we are damaging our relationship with the Inner Mother just as much as if we were scolding and giving ultimatums to our lovers or children. We create knots of guilt and resentment that must later be unwound in order for the relationship to become harmonious once again.
As the Expressive Unconscious begins to reveal herself, the emotions and their connections to thoughts, memories, desires, and beliefs will emerge organically. The Super-Ego must carefully observe all of these organic connections and decide which ones to pursue further. I once found myself thoroughly depressed shortly after I moved to Tennessee. I had about two hours to myself alone on the upstairs level of the restaurant where I worked at the time. I spent those two hours sitting with my depression, crying and reflecting until I found that the root of my depression was the feeling that I lacked a sense of community and that this absence had been there since I was ten years old. Although I have made this sound simple and easy, it took me at least an hour to explore the many complex thoughts, feelings, and memories that the original depression led into before I was able to simply state the root complex. When I was finished I still had no sense of community, but I was no longer depressed about it. The Father needs to be aware that his job is not to solve problems. Bolded and italicized because it is just that important.
A brief tangent. In our world today, most Boyfriends view their Girlfriends’ emotional outbursts as problems to be solved. They have this attitude because the Father’s strength is rational thought. To a person who grasps rational thought but lacks access to emotional expressiveness (that is, to a man who has an active Father Archetype but a very dormant Mother Archetype), there is never anything to do but solve problems. To such a one-sided person, emotions themselves are problems. I won’t pontificate on the many benefits of a rich emotional life; I take this as baseline. Unfortunately, so many men in our society have shut out their emotions because men aren’t supposed to feel or to have emotional outbursts (or at least not straight, cis men). Given the limited access such men have to their own emotions,we’d expect the emotions of others to look to him like a muddled mess of problems that have simple solutions if you would just abandon the emotions. The Boyfriend who tries to solve his Girlfriend’s problems, then, is denying her validity. He reduces her to an inferior person who cannot fix herself because she has a sickness we call being “emotional” or “crazy” or “irrational”. Until he can see the virtue of emotions, he will never be able to simply listen and inquire; he will never take a charitable view of her emotions by assuming that underneath the confusing muddle lies a very real expression whose surfacing will improve and deepen the relationship between her and the Boyfriend. The Boyfriend who tries to fix his Girlfriend really just wishes she would stop being such a nuisance. This Boyfriend’s Super-Ego takes the same approach to his Expressive Unconscious. He is therefore incapable of processing his own emotions until he can admit their validity. He is as cold and heartless toward himself as he is to her.
The Father is capable of the keenest and most penetrating rational thought, but the deepest purpose of his rational gifts is not problem-solving—at least not where the Mother is concerned. His rational gifts must be used to carefully distinguish and clarify the Mother’s expression. The Father is uniquely capable of inventing rational categories (like Immanuel Kant’s categories, or Myers-Briggs personality types, or even the Archetypes). For a Father without a Mother (like Kant), the purpose of the Father’s rational gift is the endless distinguishing and separating of experience into categories, followed by clever synthetic recombination. In short, without the involvement of an Expressive Unconscious the Inner Father is doomed to mental masturbation, creating logical mazes without any meaningful content. Once he recognizes that life is lifeless without the abundant emotion and creativity typified by the Mother, all of his acts of categorization become directed toward the singular focus of coming to know the self. It is only in the moment when the Father learns to appreciate the Mother and the Mother learns to respect the Father that self-improvement suddenly becomes a real driving force.
In coming to know the self, the Mother and Father are engaged in creating a work of art. That is, emotional processing is itself a work of art. It has all the elements of a good story even down to the catharsis at the end. It is telling that we use the word “drama” to characterize both works of art and emotionally charged situations. We need drama. It allows our Unconscious selves to find expression and resolution in new ways, bringing the relationship between Self (Mother) and Self (Father) ever closer and more harmonious. Emotional processing is dramatic in the most felicitous sense of the word.
In addition to the Father’s gift of categorization he also has the gift of balance. That is, the Father can see that all aspects of the self have their counterparts and that all modes of expression must balance each other. In the Father’s familial role, this is apparent when he punishes a disobedient child with the awareness that if the trend continues the child might spiral downward in adulthood. The Father’s far-sight would not be possible if he did not also have a sense of balance. He knows the elements that are necessary to a complete human experience and he never loses sight of the careful balance between all of these elements. His balance and far-sight are two of the greatest gifts he imparts to his Creature.
In emotional processing, the Father must keep in mind the balance. If the Mother expresses fear and anxiety, then the Father knows that there is also a part of her that feels safe and secure. Once the Father has elicited the Mother’s fear and anxiety until it has run dry, he must continue his inquiry until the Mother also discovers in herself safety and security. If the Mother expresses anger, the Father must be on the look out for peaceful acceptance. If the Mother expresses excitement, the Father must look for boredom. And so on. The Mother does not recognize this balance herself, so she always feels unstable, as if she is at the mercy of the next unpredictable emotional episode. The Father, however, trusts that he will find balanced expressions within the Mother, so he waits until one emotion has passed and anticipates that its opposite will surely follow. In both literary and film drama, we see this sequence play out ad nauseum. Forgiveness always follows resentment. Reunion always follows separation. The Father knows this and so he does not trust that all he will find is resentment and separation; rather, he listens to the Mother’s story, helping her navigate the path from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other until the story is complete and catharsis leads new vistas of experience—“happily ever after,” as they say. There is no story unless something happens, and there is no ending unless something is resolved.
The above is the basic shape of emotional processing. Processing can happen in many ways. Two persons can help each other process emotions by alternating roles. In this model, one person simply expresses her own Expressive Unconscious while the other acts as her Father by exploring the Expressive Unconscious to distinguish feelings and associations from each other and to progress the story onward to its natural conclusion. Then they switch. The opposite model is also possible: one person mirrors the other’s Expressive Unconscious while the other acts as the Father who processes the expressions. In fact, this second somewhat counterintuitive model is one that I frequently use when I feel my grasp of an Archetype or Relationship needs work. I approach my fiancée and begin to ask her questions. She, recognizing that her role is to act as my own Expressive Unconscious, answers them honestly, trusting that I’ll find in her words the expressions I was looking for. Emotional processing is also effective in groups, though I’ve never personally experienced such an event.
“Mindfulness” is the term I use to collectively name the active steps we can take to move from vice and incoherence toward virtue and coherence. It is the practical take-home message of all of my writing. Each Archetype offers a different form of mindfulness, the sum total of which represents the path toward wholeness, healing, fulfillment, and all that other stuff that we all want. For the morally positive (or Good), to be mindful means to self-reflectively observe your thoughts, feelings, and actions, and then allow this conscious self-reflexivity to affect those thoughts, feelings, and actions organically through insight and reasoning. For the morally negative, (or Evil), to be mindful means to self-reflexively observe your thoughts, feelings, and actions, and then to willfully enforce a consciously chosen paradigm upon all elements of self that do not yet adhere to this paradigm.
The Loving Mother’s mindfulness is what we sometimes call authenticity. I say we sometimes call it authenticity because Motherly mindfulness is not itself the state of being authentic; rather, it is carefully attending to the specific modes and degrees of your authenticity, and how they change based on context. You may be more authentic with your lover than with a perfect stranger—and the opposite can equally be true. Or you may be authentic in your musicianship but inauthentic in your painting. Authenticity is a feeling and not a thought or a state of being. Like any other feeling, the more you pay attention to it, the richer and more familiar the feeling becomes. Only the Expressive Unconscious is capable of feeling what it is like to be authentic. As you pay attention to the ways in which you are authentic and inauthentic, you will eventually find yourself drawn toward purity in authenticity. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Manipulative Mother simply turns this model on its head. Like the Loving Mother, she attends to her modes and levels of authenticity, but instead of cultivating authenticity, focuses on her enjoyment of the feeling of inauthenticity and its usefulness if manipulating others.
The Loving Father’s mindfulness is sometimes known as self-acceptance. All it takes to accept any aspect of ourselves is to look at it head-on without distraction, denial, rationalization or any other avoidance mechanism. When we are able to look at ourselves honestly, we are instantly forced to make a choice: accept or reject. Good or Evil. Again, it is not bad or wrong to choose Evil or to employ Evil methodology or even compartmentalized Evil. If our hearts genuinely prefer Evil, then there is nothing for it but to accept what we are. I doubt anyone reading this is of such a bent, though.
The mutual mindfulness of Mother and Father is a synergistic relationship whose Co-creative dynamics become far more fruitful than they ever could have been otherwise. A Mother (inner, outer or both) who expresses herself authentically and without reservation gives a Loving Father (inner, outer or both) a bounty of raw material to work with by gently fashioning it into a structural whole whose rationally-consistent harmony provides the mythic skeleton to the Mother’s aesthetic flesh. Mindfulness in the Mother and Father produces a model of self and world whose simultaneous beauty and functionality redounds into the material world as a paragon of harmonious collaboration. When we see a mindful Mother and a mindful Father together, we think to ourselves, “My how they love each other. They sure are a beautiful pair.”
Ultimately, rational coherence is the great virtue of the Father, while authentic expression is the great virtue of the Mother. Collectively, the two are capable of exploring, understanding, and communicating anything that may be conceived. Their acts of Co-creation take place entirely in the mental sphere, where they fashion the very mind of the Creature that emerges from their union. As Archetypes, the Mother and Father are not physically generative, but only mentally so. In literal terms, we can only support the child’s authenticity and give the child rational tools for navigating these mental expressions. All else is tangential to the parent-child relationship; that is, we can still be good parents in the absence of other virtues (like a physically stable environment or a spiritually compelling experience).
Reflections on the Mother and Father
Feminism and the Patriarchy
The Evil Mother and Father are no exception to the rule. The Tyrannical Father and the Manipulative Mother are emergent entities whose motives expand well beyond the intentions of the individuals involved. Loan sharks use guilt tactics to keep their strapped debtors paying, though it is hard to imagine that any one member of these organizations is capable of being so ruthless alone. The “Patriarchy” itself is a bastion of unthinking Tyranny, despite the apparent cunning with which it has carefully organized and handicapped social factions which might otherwise overthrow the regime. The Patriarchy (as an organized unit with a mind and awareness independent of its individual members) seeks consciously to control according to its unimpeachable authority. Where women seek to violate the imposed social order, the Patriarchy intervenes to remind them that they are not rational enough for their desired social position or that they too aggressive in their dealings with others. The Tyrannical Father speaks through the mouthpiece of unthinking persons the world over to reinforce his rule and to ensure that nothing overturns the existing chain of command. The wrath of the Patriarchal Tyrant is nowhere more evident than in the abuse of women in the most fundamentalist of Muslim societies. The cultural inheritance of these “honor societies” in their egregiously Tyrannical attitudes toward women especially is a horror that outstrips by far the cultural biases currently prominent in the United States. The following in no way undermines these facts.
In all relationships between Tyrannical Fathers and Manipulative Mothers, an endless war ensues between the two. The Tyrant exerts his power over both Mother and Creature in his quest for complete dominance, while the Manipulative Mother raises her Creature to be faithful to her, but to overthrow the Father, thus placing her at the top through her control over the Creature. This battle is plainly exposed in the myths we have inherited from Greece, in which both Cronos and Zeus conspire with their mothers to seize dominion from their fathers.
Although the Feminist Movement is reinventing itself as a more loving and supportive movement, the uglier faces of the Movement in recent US history have tended in the direction of the Manipulative Mother. Through McCarthyist shaming tactics, militant factions of Feminism (the ones who “give it a bad name”) have sought to control the Creature (i.e. younger generations) through instilling guilt complexes. Guilt-trips are the Manipulative Mother’s weapon of choice. Where young American women of the past have felt like their sexuality is “bad” due to Patriarchal slut-shaming, young American men of the present feel like their sexuality is “bad” due to Feminist creep/harassment-shaming. Slut-shaming is still a powerful force in America today, but the Feminist Movement has given women a release-valve through the viability of an alternate perspective. The Men’s Rights Movement is attempting to construct a similar release-valve for creep-shaming, but they do so against the wrath of the Manipulative Mother who is bent on controlling her Creature. Fortunately, the Feminist Movement is beginning to recognize and atone for its victim-turned-victimizer tendencies, but Men’s Rights, the Creature of the whole affair, is still in a stunted and reactive state. It acts out against both Mother (Feminism) and Father (Patriarchy), flailing to find a stable identity of its own.
In your life, have you ever shamed a woman for her sexuality, expecting a stricter sexual morality of her than of yourself?
Have you ever shamed a man for his sexual advances even when they were innocuous?
Do you withhold your acceptance of others when they do not meet your expectations, whether through their adherence to moral rules or through the modes of expression?
Can you accept that the Tyrant and the Manipulative Mother exist within you, however seldom they make their appearances?
Teachers and the School System
The Mother is no less necessary in primary and secondary schools than the Father. In secondary schools especially, the school’s counselor takes the role of the Mother, but how can she be mother to hundreds or even thousands? I never spoke directly to a school counselor though I surely needed her love and support while I was there. The Father Archetype is far more eminently necessary to a teacher than the Mother because without it the students will rule the classroom, not the teacher. Already awash in two Archetypes (Story-Teller and Father), only the most adept of teachers still have the poise and resources to also incorporate the Mother as a third necessary inclusion. Without the Mother, our children find themselves scuttled off to a prison where they are force-fed information and moral judgments in the guise of education and classroom order, their unique identities lost in the whirlwind of structure and expectation. That teachers are often ill-equipped for this simultaneously gargantuan and exquisitely subtle role is not a mark against them. We rarely appreciate what our school system is asking of them, and they rarely realize until it is too late just how difficult the job is.
We all teach others in some way. How can your teaching be both more authoritative and more supportive rather than sterile and merely informative?
A teacher whose students need a Mother or Father can easily become frustrated if she’d rather be a Story-Teller. How often do you find yourself frustrated that you are expected to be either supportive or authoritative when you’d rather just tell a story?
Do you abandon or reject the Creature in others who calls even if unconsciously for the Father’s discipline or the Mother’s comfort?
Sadism and Masochism
With the exception of bondage, all of these sexual practices emanate from a hierarchical concept of human relationship in which one plays the role of the superior and one the inferior. This description by its very nature invokes Evil Archetypal roles: the Tyrant (master), the Manipulative (mistress), and the subservient Creature (slave) are all central ingredients in the sexual narrative that Fifty Shades of Grey and its countless underground literary forebears all play out. These narratives do not point to the same issues as domestic abuse. In a domestic abuse situation, the person abused is not granted the freedom to choose otherwise; whereas, in these Evil sexual narratives, the slave’s free choice of slavery is what grants the entire narrative its allure. The master or mistress wants a willing slave who happily endures pain, abuse, and humiliation: a slave who begs for more. When we conflate these two scenarios, we make the dangerous mistake of confusing Evil for vice. Domestic abuse is vice plain and simple, and the wounds forged through the experience demand healing and nurturing in a safe environment. Consciously choosing sexual slavery, on the other hand, reveals none of the inner turmoil that accompanies a vicious experience. When we call it “Stockholm Syndrome,” or otherwise suggest mental incapacitation, we strip the involved parties of their free will, disregarding the importance of their own deliberate choices.
Fifty Shades of Grey became a literary phenomenon for a reason, a reason in relation to which BDSM is merely tangential. The Evil Co-creative relationship between a Mother and Father raising a Creature demands expression. On a cultural level, we cannot hide from it any longer because the Archetypal pattern exists within all of us. Each of us must at some point face the presence within us the raw desire for possession and control of another as well as the raw desire for humiliation and subjugation at the hands of another. We consciously know that these attitudes are taboo and we unconsciously sense that they are Evil, but none of that mitigates our attraction to them as Archetypal experiences. Fortunately, Evil is not wrong and Good is not right.
Until we face these taboo tendencies within us—however minimal they may be—we will find ourselves stuck in vicious Co-creative cycles because the Expressive Unconscious is not granted the freedom to express herself authentically and the Super-Ego refuses to loosen his rules (which are the source of the taboo) to examine her honestly.
BDSM and the culture that surrounds it allows us to explore Evil sexual experiences without committing to a relationship founded upon these concepts. For most, “kink” culture is an opportunity to heal. For some, however, it becomes the ideological foundation for an Evil way of life.
Have you on occasion craved the control and possession another through his or her free will, even if only temporarily? Even if non-sexually?
How do you feel about this desire?
Have you on occasion wished that your lover would humiliate you and use you as long as it was a safe environment and the experience had a distinct ending?
What do these desires have in common with the Tyrant and the Manipulative Mother?
How do your desires reflect the darker elements of the relationship between you and your parents or parental figures?
If you are man, think back to a time you over-explained yourself or spoke down to a woman because you assumed her rational parts were broken. Do you sometimes assume this of your own emotions, fantasies, dreams, emergent thoughts, and gut reactions?
How can you approach the thoughts and feelings in yourself and others more charitably?
What would it be like to assume that your inner resources are brilliant and that your interlocutors are capable of astounding intelligence?
Dogma, Cult-seeking, and Surrogate Parents
We learn from our parents and other parental figures (teachers, grand parents, aunts and uncles, older siblings and cousins, and any other elder perceived as having superior experience) how to instantiate the Mother and Father Archetypes. That is, those persons in whom we constellate the parental Archetypes become the models according to which we express them. Moreover, because the Mother and Father Archetypes give the Archetypal description for all mental construction, whether aesthetic/imaginative (Mother) or structural/orderly (Father), parental figures are also incidentally the source for our impressions of all Archetypes, not just the Mother and Father.
Although the Mother and Father are not primarily Story-Tellers, for they specialize in elements of the story, not the story as a whole, they are the primary expressions of the masculine (conscious) and feminine (unconscious) influences in terms of our mimicked learning. They provide us with ready-made models of masculinity and femininity, and it is through these models that all other Archetypes may be activated within us. This is why Mother/Son and Father/Daughter relationships become so complicated: they often involve patterns from most or even all of the Archetypes and Archetypal Relationships.
Our literal mothers teach us how to be Mothers ourselves. Because the child will not be a child forever, the Mother must somehow teach her Creature to be its own Mother so that it no longer needs her constant support. In fact, in the normal development of a literal child, the father cannot become a Father until the child’s Inner Mother has developed to a requisite degree. That is, there can be no Fathering until the Creature is capable of expressing and accepting herself with enough surety to withstand the Father’s critical eye. The Father must then teach the Creature how to be Father to itself. This is the connection between outer instances of Archetypes and inner instances: through familiarity with an outer instance via our unconscious acts of constellation, we develop the inner instance as a matter of course.
In order for a child to truly become an adult, these massively important figures in his life must also eventually be rejected. The unique Self within each of us (the Daemon, or the spirit if you will) eventually discovers that some of its expressions may scandalize the Mother and violate the Father’s rules. This is a conflict between the inner and outer Archetypal instances which can only be resolved by rejecting the primacy of the outer instance and affirming the primacy of the inner instance (it also has its own Archetypes, whom I’ve called the Bride and Groom—though these names are subject to change). Immanuel Kant referred to this reversal of primacy as “release from his self-incurred tutelage” in his famous “What Is Enlightenment?” essay.
We may, however, choose not to resolve the conflict between the inner and outer Mother and Father. If our parents did not trust their inner parents, then they have surely taught us not to trust ours. In this case, reversing the primacy of the inner and outer becomes almost inconceivable as our inner parents are weak and undeveloped. We must then find surrogate parents so that we can continue our “self-incurred tutelage.”
Cults are organizations designed to provide surrogate parents to those who can not or will not trust their inner Mother and Father. On the Motherly side, a cult provides extreme social acceptance and support in a very intimate setting so that the cult-seeker does not need to find acceptance and support within herself. A cult also has implicit conditions for this acceptance and support: as long as you abide by the cultural norms of the cult, you will be accepted. If you do not, you will be either shamed or abandoned. The cult offers its adherent a Mother much like the one he probably knew as a child: one who ostensibly loves him and wants the best for him, but who will not accept and love him unconditionally.
On the Fatherly side, every cult has a set of dogmatic doctrines and rules to which its adherents must conform or else suffer punishment. Whereas the Motherly side of the cult will shame or withhold support from a rogue adherent, the Fatherly side will impose explicit punishments up to and including expulsion from the cult. Like the Motherly side of a cult, the Fatherly side is vicious in its incoherent moral attitudes. As the Mother’s greatest offense against her Creature is removal of support, so the Father’s greatest offense is disownment. In exchange for continued tutelage, a cult-seeker accepts the possibility of this ultimate rejection—one which he may have already experienced with his birth parents.
Cults and cult-seekers are far more common than we realize. Anyone who seeks support and approval through association with a group is reaching for surrogate parents. Hence, every dogmatic religion or social ideology without exception will have have cult-like traits indicative of a vicious Father and possibly also a vicious Mother (depending on the religion). Dogma of any variety whatsoever is a subversion of the Inner Father at the expense of the Inner Mother. Its persistence even in ostensibly non-dogmatic traditions (like New Age, Buddhism and rationalism) is impressive.
Do you long for support and acceptance from another person or group?
Does this longing affect your decisions about how you spend your time?
What are you incapable of giving yourself that you hope this outer source will provide?
Do you have beliefs that you refuse to abandon no matter how strong the evidence against them may be?
What do you gain from these beliefs that you would lose if you abandoned them?
What does your attachment to these beliefs cost you that you would like to have?
One Strong Parent, One Weak Parent
When the Mother is stronger and more developed than the Father, she takes on some of his responsibility, but cannot employ his methods. In place of an explicit system of rules that determine the pathways of thought by which the Father would normally assist us in reaching maturity, the Mother will enforce an implicit set of expectations which, lacking explicit rules, we cannot possibly meet. The strong Mother recognizes the need for discipline, but because the Father is weak, she must be the “bad cop.” The Archetypally harmonic state of affairs is that the Mother plays good cop and the Father plays bad cop. These roles play into their strengths insofar as the Mother may then offer support and comfort freely while the Father may discipline through carefully considered and explicitly stated rules. If the Father cannot enter the disciplinarian role, the Mother has no choice but to retract some of her support.
Conversely, when the Father is stronger and more developed than the Mother, he must take on the support role in addition to the disciplinary role. In place of the Mother’s freely given encouragement and unconditional praise, he can only increase the rewards he metes out when the Creature obeys and succeeds within his rules. As the overpowering Mother indicates to her Creature that rules are arbitrary, the overpowering Father indicates to his Creature that love is conditional. In both cases, the conditions are presented for encouraging unbalanced inner resources within the Creature. While we do not determine the personalities of our children, we very much can affect their access to undistorted Archetypal models.
Do you tend to give yourself love and support only through achievement and conditional obedience?
Are you equally withholding for others?
What would it feel like to love and accept yourself without the need to achieve?
Do you have nebulous and unquantifiable expectations for yourself?
Do you compare your strengths and weaknesses to those of others?
What would it feel like to to invent goals for yourself that you are actually capable of meeting?
Sex and Relationship Maintenance
A successful relationship has a very specific set of demands. While a stable home, harmonic rapport, mutual vulnerability and guidance, and regular attention to basic necessities (cooking, cleaning, etc.) are all staples of a successful relationship, the romantic spark is the central element that binds and continually deepens the relationship. All the other elements of a successful relationship are of little consequence if the romantic spark has sputtered out.
Cultivating the Suitor and Débutante Archetypes is a starting point for a couple whose romantic spark has faded, but these two Archetypes are novelty-seekers. Novelty can light a spark, but it won’t feed and stabilize the fire. The Mother and Father are the ones who are truly suited for this task, but the Mother and Father must view the relationship as the Creature, not each other.
The woman’s act of nurturing a relationship is to express its status quo at any given moment. Her tide of unconscious feeling is the absolute thermometer for the relationship itself and the man has no direct control over this weather. He must learn to adapt. He must judge what her emotional state (or mood) is at any moment and respond to that mood appropriately. She probably does not know what she wants or is in the mood for, which is why the onus is on him to take the lead. A man who cannot lead or cannot lead adaptively is doomed to a relationship of mutual romantic disappointment. For the Mother, the most attractive quality is a Father who can first identify what she needs but does not know she needs and then give that to her.
The man’s act of nurturing a relationship, then, is to be firm and confident but adaptive. There is no one right way. A man forges a successful long term romance not through rote habit, but through careful attention to the signs the woman gives that invite or discourage his advances. Too often men complain that the only thing lacking in their marriage is sex. In terms of a romance, however, the “only thing lacking” is a symptom that virtually everything is lacking. Women do want sex of course, but what is attractive to them in the long-term is when a man sees what she wants and gives it to her confidently. If, in the long-term, men tend to find grace and passion sexually attractive in women, then women tend to find discipline and a backbone sexually attractive in men. Cliché though it may be, women on the whole genuinely want a man to be a man if the relationship is to work out.
Have you noticed yourself falling into rote habits with your partner?
Do you wish there was more sex but pay little attention to the many different sexual moods your partner has?
Do you avoid taking the lead?
Do you humor your partner’s lack of assertiveness by picking up the slack?