Archetypes: 4 Options for Survival

April 7, 2018 by Charlie Hedges − 3 Comments

“Four Survival Archetypes are the only archetypes that every single person encompasses in themselves. We at some point in our lives open ourselves to the negative and positive sides of these archetypes – Child, Victim, Saboteur, & Prostitute.” Louisa Mitchell

When Your Back is in a Corner

What part of you comes out when your back is against the wall? Is it ugly or positively protective? Do you lash out in anger, cry or whine, blame, or respond with some sort of passive (or aggressive) attack? Or, do you allow your mind and spirit room to ponder the best way to handle the particular situation? And then after thinking about it, do you respond in the best and most productive method possible?

Tough questions. Hard to answer and even harder to manage, because we all have the “protective archetypes or innate patterns” that govern our responses. Psychoanalyst Carl Yung once stated, “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to a better understanding of ourselves.” It’s like the old saying that when you point a finger at another person there are three fingers pointing back at you.

It seems we all have four Survival Archetypes that are our “go-to’s” when we find ourselves backed into a corner or somehow placed in the center of negative attention. A great number of spiritual advisors agree on four archetypes: Child, Victim, Saboteur or Prostitute.

I owe much of the following description to the writings of Carolyn Myss, who seems to be the reigning expert in the field of Survival Archetypes.

4 Survival Archetypes

The Child: The Guardian of Innocence

We most easily identify with the Child, and this archetype establishes our perceptions of life, safety, nurturing, loyalty, and family. Regardless of which aspect of the Child you relate to most intimately, this archetypal pattern brings you to meet the guardian of your innocence. The Child helps heal, repair, and teach you what you need to care for in yourself.

The Victim: Guardian of Self-Esteem 

The Victim archetype may manifest the first time you don’t get what you want or need; abused by a parent, playmate, sibling, or teacher; or accused of or punished for something you didn’t do.

The core issue of the Victim is whether it’s worth giving up your own sense of empowerment to avoid taking responsibility for your independence.

The lessons associated with the Victim archetype demand that you evaluate your relationship to power, particularly in your interactions with people with whom you have control issues and need to construct personal boundaries.

The Saboteur: Guardian of Choice

The Saboteur archetype is a neutral energy within you that can sabotage your efforts to be happy and successful if you are not aware of the patterns of thought and behavior that it raises in you. It can cause you to resist opportunities.

The Saboteur is the mirror that reflects your fears of taking responsibility for yourself and for what you create.

You can silence the Saboteur with acts of courage and by following your intuition.

The core issue for the Saboteur is fear of inviting change into your life, change that requires responding in a positive way to opportunities to shape and deepen your spirit. 

The Prostitute: Guardian of Faith. 

The core issue of the Prostitute archetype is how much you are willing to sell of yourself—your morals, your integrity, your intellect, your word, your body, or your soul—for the sake of physical security.

The Prostitute archetype can act as a guardian that awakens you to situations in which you must decide to “take up your bed and walk.” Once you get away from a circumstance that costs you too much –money, energy, dignity, or time—lasting transformation is possible.


Like Always… It’s Your Choice

Which archetype above describes you when your have felt your survival threatened? For me, I find there are times I identify with each of the four: child, victim, saboteur and prostitute. I guess it is contingent on the situation.

What is most important to know is that you indeed have a choice of how you respond to hurtful situations. You have an innate need for survival and I find, for me, the four archetypes to be quite informative.

Yes, you have a choice—not to control others, but to control your own emotions and responses. Wisdom, not reaction, always prevails. Lao Tzu says something like, “Understanding others is strength, but understanding yourself is wisdom.”

FINAL CREDIT: Introduction to this line of thought is the result of conversation with my Personal Coach Dena Crowder.


Don’t React

Wisely Decide Using Your Archetypes


Photo courtesy of Mehendra at istockphoto

3 thoughts on “Archetypes: 4 Options for Survival”

  1. What a wonderful introduction to these concepts! It’s exciting to me that you’re sharing them with your readers. Thank you also for the kind mention. It’s my honor to be both your friend and mentor.

  2. It’s 5:30 in the morning and I’m sitting in front of the gym reading this and the child is listening, great article…I would like to thank Dena Crowder for teaching me about myself , she’s truly amazing….

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