Stories of growth

A few years ago, I took part in a study group devoted to archetypes and how the psyche narrates our own lives. You know, life is just another story. I remember we had some very rewarding discussions, and a couple of the books that we used stood out as sources of a profoundly new way of looking at our own development as human beings. They were "Goddesses in Everywoman: A New Psychology of Women" and "Gods in Everyman: A New Psychology of Men's Lives and Loves", by Jean Shinoda Bolen, a psychiatrist with a jungian perspective.

These books are a crash course in how archetypal psychology works, and when you know it, you begin to see archetypes everywhere in classic stories. Recently there was a discussion on the Guardian website about how many adaptions to film we need of Jane Austen and Brontë novels. The reason we never tire of these stories are, of course, that characters like Heathcliff, Cathy, Jane Eyre, Elisabeth Bennett and all her family, Mr Darcy, and all the rest of them, are modern archetypes. We may not naturally relate to the gods and godesses of the old Greek mythology, but there will always be inventions of more up-to-date versions of the same archetypes. That´s what we need literature for, among other things.

This book I have read now, is Bolen´s "Goddesses in Older Women: Archetypes in Women over Fifty". Ok, I didn´t read it very thoroughly. I leafed throught in one evening. Not that it´s not a good book, but it felt like I had read most of it before. And perhaps I´m not old enough to identify with crones, I don´t know... Yet.

I can warmly recommend Jean Shinoda Bolen to anyone who feels an urge to understand their own psyche a bit better. In times of confusion, transition, or both, she can be a great companion to someone who has inclinations towards psychology and storytelling and a wish for a more informed and controlled personal growth.

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