Andrew Hollingsworth

Unconscious Bias Blog - Archetypes

Man in suit holding a sign saying 'Don't make assumptions'

In my last blog I introduced you to Jung’s Archetypes and in this blog, I wanted to explore a specific archetype to see if there could be some of the UB patterns hidden within it and to explore whether there are some deeper underlying reasons for the UB’s. 

The Rebel/Destroyer Archetype has a terrifying name that can easily be misunderstood based on the biases that spring to mind but there is a lot more to this ancient pattern than the label suggests!

The Rebel/Destroyer is a paradoxical aspect of our psyche and as with all extremes can produce extreme results and outcomes. The goal of the Rebel/Destroyer is metamorphosis - not just change... It is driving by the need to revolutionise and transform things that are either not functioning properly or not the way they think it should. A positive outcome to this can be the ability to ‘weed the garden’ - when done appropriately, creating amazing opportunities for growth and innovation. The Rebel/Destroyers ability to troubleshoot and game-change is a powerful tool in the hands of a balanced Rebel/Destroyer.

By contrast, when our Rebel/Destroyer isn’t in balance it can produce destructive behaviours in self and others. Radical views and repressed anger can lead them to break the rules and ruthlessly pursue their interests labelling those who don’t share their drive as weak and useless.

If, as Jung suggests, we all have this Archetype within us operating either unconsciously or (now) more consciously, how could this form some of our UB?

The pioneering French Psychologist Pierre Janet, regarding as one of the founding fathers of modern psychology, suggested that ‘there is a certain weakness of consciousness which is unable to hold all the psyche processes together’ – in other words the unconscious is in conflict with our conscious and as a result doesn’t necessarily harmonise in a balanced way.

Maybe this is a driver for UB, those unconscious elements being driven by our Archetypes struggle to actualise as a result of the conflict? Maybe the Rebel/Destroyers need to bring revolutionary change is misunderstood and regarded as reckless and conflictual by conscious self or others?

Maybe through this inner conflict our UB can be explored, harmonised and rectified in a balanced way?

Another avenue to consider is Jung’s view on the ‘the Shadow’; our Shadow representing the supressed, hidden aspects of the psyche that we don’t appreciate. Many times, our UB will be expressed and projected onto other people via the activities of the Shadow.

How often do we hear someone (normally ourselves if we’re honest) talking about a character trait or behaviour that we don’t like in someone else?

“They’re selfish, they’re stingy, they’re liars...” etc etc. which is then normally followed by the expression “I can’t stand people like that...” Ouch...

I would suggest in a significant amount of cases, the person projecting from the Shadow isn’t even aware it’s their Shadow and with little or no awareness of where this trait or behaviour is coming from.

In the cases of those who probably do have a good idea, what they’re really saying is something along the lines of “I don’t like that trait in me but rather than face into it and deal with it, I’ll blame other people”

I’ve shared with you one of the twelve core Archetypes which Jung regarded as personality complexes within themselves and how the struggle between the conscious and unconscious can result in traits and behaviours that we struggle to deal with.

Maybe the quest to understand UB will unfold the more we explore and face into them with openness, honesty, patience and a lot of humility!