Personal archetypes, aspects of personality and psychological well-being
Els, Christoffel Johannes
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The aim of this study has been to theoretically and empirically explore the nature of personal archetypes, aspects of personality and psychological well-being, as well as the relationship between archetypes and aspects of personality and psychological well-being. This study was conducted according to the new paradigm emerging with the field of psychology, focusing on health and psychological well-being, so diverging from the conventional pathogenic meta-perspective in which the focus is on illness /pathology/abnormalities. T his new paradigm focuses on strengths and positive aspects of human functioning. It has become clear that an individual is a dynamic, holistic, psychophysical, multi-dimensional organism, and therefore psychological health and wellness must consequently be studied from holistic and multidimensional perspectives, with recognition of various health domains / life dimensions (physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, social and vocational). According to the Archetypal Theoretical exploration, Archetypes are the psychological correlations and symbolic representations of typical instinctive human behaviour, such as attitudes, feelings, modes of action, thought processes and impulses. These emotional-imaginable mental structures functionally shape personal experiences, and therefore behaviour towards situations and objects. Personology indicates that acquiring a personality means the optimum development and realization of the whole person as a dynamic, holistic, psychophysical, multi-dimensional organism. This includes all conscious and unconscious processes and the harmonization of polar psychophysical energy. Personality is not something static, but a dynamic process of growth that can be compared metaphorically to a journey towards becoming an individuated / self-actualised person. The functional centre of the psyche that organizes this developmental journey of personality is the Se& and the process is called individuation. During the inner journey towards individuation, and through each major chronological stage of development, a person is confronted by certain life-issues and natural psychological growth patterns. This calls forth certain Archetypes that act as guiding mechanisms on the developmental journey, empowering a person with certain innate psychological SeIf-Strengths, giving expression to certain essential qualities and integrating parts of the personality. Within the different dimensions of a person, archetypes are instinctive symbolic representations of these Self-potentials / Self-strengths, which empower the personality with coping skills, and act as neurotic defense entrenchments, preventing illness, and thus enhancing psychological well-being. Although archetypal development is a fundamental part of human development universally, different cultures and genders identify more strongly with certain archetypes and show a difference in progression through the stages of the journey. In the empirical study an availability sample (n = 300 students between the ages of 18 and 25) consisting of males and females (from two major cultural groups: White and Black South Africans) has been used. Personal Archetypes have been operationalized by means of the Pearson-Maw Archetypal Indicator (Pearson & Mum, 2003). Certain aspects of personality have been operationalized by means of the Revised NEO Personality Inventory /iWO PI-R: E&A] (Costa & McCrae, 1992) and psychological well-being have been operationalized be means of the Sense of Coherence Scale (Antonovsky, 1987), the Aflectometer 2 (Kammann & Flett, 1983), the Satisfaction With Life Scale (Diener, Emmons, Larsen & Grzfi, 1985), the Life Orientation Test (Scheier & Carver, 1985), the General Health Questionnaire (Goldberg & Hillier, 1979) and the Generalized Self-eflcacy Scale (Schwaner & Jerusalem, 1995). Favourable internal Cronbach Alpha reliability indices and validity, comparable with those reported in literature have been found for most of the scales and sub-scales. The mean scores found for the Total Group and for the different groups (Male, Female, Black and White) have been compared and interpreted. The White cultural group mainly focuses on the Sage, Jester, Caregiver, Lover and Creator archetypes, while the Black cultural group mainly focuses on the Sage, Warrior and Ruler archetypes. As a Total Group its main focus is on founding and understanding truth behind appearance and illusions. They value high mindedness, thinking of authority as something earned by attaining wisdom or expertise. Sometimes they evaluate others in a cold, judgmental way and may also feel disconnected from real life / the greater world, resisting certain changes. They may lack the ability to let go of certain old habits/relationships/thought patterns,which are no longer important in their lives. The White cultural group is actively concerned with issues of personal responsibility and freedom, and yet has not fully developed a sense of personal identity, power and authenticity, while identifying itself with a f e d m e cast, which may indicate cooperativeness, receptiveness and emphasis on living in process with each other and the natural world. The Black cultural group, on the other hand, is actively concerned with issues of personal power and freedom, and yet has not fully developed a sense of personal identity, responsibility and authenticity, while identifying itself with a masculine cast, which may indicate hierarchical cultural structures, competitiveness, aggressiveness and an emphasis on achievement and mastery. It seems as if cultural and socio-political influences underlie the differences between the two cultural groups within this study. The Total Group showed moderately high levels of psychological well-being, and according to the indices for personality seems to be affectionate, friendly, have positive emotions of joy, happiness, love, excitement, is considerate and showed active concern over the well-being of others. Some significant differences have been found between the two cultural groups. The White Group are more caring, empathetic and compassionate towards themselves and others, while the Black Group are more demanding, disciplined, assertive and competitive. The White Group is furthermore more modest humble than the Black Group, which may believe it is superior. The White Group tends to focus more strongly on enjoyment joy, excitement, stimulation, bright colours, loud environments, liberation, freedom, and are likely more playful, present-orientated, curious and unconcerned with what others may think, than the Black Group, which is less focused on playfulness, excitement-seeking, impulsiveness and constant stimulation. Furthermore the White Group experiences a higher level of positive emotion than the Black Group, which is less joyful and happy. These differences are found for the current research group and should not be considered indicative of the difference between these cultures in general. No significant differences have been found between the two gender groups, but further analysis of the cultural-gender groups revealed that the White Group of Women are the most modest of all the cultural-gender groups and tends to experience a higher level of activity, and thus is more energetic and fast pacing than the Black Group of Women (that probably prefer a more easy and calm tempo lifestyle). The exposition of correlations indicated that more practically significant correlations are found between personal archetypes and certain aspects of personality, than between personal archetypes and psychological well-being. Significant correlations (with personal archetypes) are found on 9 of the personality sub-scales, while on 2 aspects of personality no significant correlations are found. Significant correlations (with personal archetypes) are found on 4 of the psychological well-being scales and sub-scales, while on 6 aspects of psychological well-being no significant correlations are found. No practically significant correlations are found between two of the archetypal sub-scales (Pmr5: Seeker 62 Pmr6: Destroyer) and other scales and subscales for personality and psychological well-being. It has been concluded that archetypes have returned to contemporary psychology as measurable constructs that could serve as valuable indicators of personality development and psychological health and well-being across age, culture and gender lines. Recommendations for further research and for the practical implication of the findings have been made.
- ETD@Vaal Triangle Campus