Reviewer Sandy Graham: Born and raised in Canada, Sandy spent 35 years with The Boeing Company in a variety of engineering and management positions. After retirement, he satisfied a long-standing urge to delve into creative writing. Sandy has authored three novels, Two Loves Lost, The Pizza Dough King and Murder – On Salt Spring?
Archetypes offers an easily adopted new approach to our age old quest to better understand ourselves and thereby live a fuller life.
In recent decades, techniques for describing human behavior have evolved such as Type A/Type B, left brain/right brain, analytic/impressive/driver/social operating styles and so on. Archetypes offers a new paradigm in evaluating what makes us the way we are and how we can parlay that into a fuller, more satisfying life.
Caroline Myss suggests that our behavior is largely determined by our genes. We are born artistic, caring, athletic, intellectual, visionary, etc. Rather than measure our tendencies, she describes these various behavior types in terms of their characteristics and calls them archetypes. One dictionary definition of archetype is the original pattern, or model, from which all other things of the same kind are made. In essence, that’s what Myssian archetypes are, models of the various behavior types in our modern society.
Ten fundamental archetypes are described in detail; namely, the Advocate, Artistic/Creative, Athlete, Caregiver, Fashionista, Intellectual, Queen/Executive, Rebel, Spiritual Seeker and Visionary. These descriptions are designed to assist the reader in relating to each model with the objective of uncovering her (or his) predominant archetype. Myss qualifies this by pointing out that we may have a combination of archetypes in our makeup as well as other less common ones not detailed in the book. Regardless, her advice can be applied to each component in turn.
In addition to providing recognizable characteristics, Myss describes each archetype’s strengths, weaknesses, pitfalls and challenges. She tells what problems to watch for and how to avoid them. Perhaps most important, she gives advice on how to make the most of the strengths inherent in each archetype. Had Socrates benefitted from this book, his admonishment might have changed from “Know Thy Self” to “Know Thy Strengths”.
One beauty of this approach is the ease with which it can be applied. Everything is written in terms we all understand, with many examples to further clarify points. Myss writes from a background of many years working with individuals assisting them in understanding the emotional, psychological and physical reasons governing their welfare and behavior.
In summary, this is a self-improvement book designed to help us feel good about ourselves, exploit our strengths, make peace with troublesome characteristics and show us how to lead a full life from which we derive great satisfaction.
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