Education Institution

Hi everyone. I want to thank Bonnie Bright for the invitation to participate in this online book Club, and hope that I can follow in the footsteps of last months author, Dr. Eril Shallit, to provide what I hope is a meaningful discussion about the underpinnings of my book, Field, Form and Fate and to continue the explorations into the domain of psyche and spirit.

    The idea for this book began back in 1996 when my interests into the confluence of matter and psyche began to take shape-   In addition to C.G. Jung’s ongoing work into the workings of psyche and Self, it was the world of the New Sciences of Emergence, which provided the necessary next step in this work.   Ervin Lazlo, considered by many as the worlds foremost systems theorist was presenting in our annual conference in Assisi, Italy when he made the following comment in response to questions about archetype and form, when he said,  “Field precedes Form”.  As discussed in the radio interview with Bonnie Bright, I suddenly had the theoretical, archetypal and mystical backdrop I had been missing.  Be it the emergence of symbols in dreams, or the espression of behavior in life and relationship, each appears as an expression of the field from which it was generated. It was, as Lazlo said, the archetypal field that is omnipresent, and from this matter and experiences emerge.   Then when looking further into the workings of fields, I found not only biological but archetypal validation for the reality of innate,  pre-formed, and it was the constellation of these  which  generated the  form and dynamics  which filled individual and collective expression.

This book represents  my research and discoveries into the nature of fields and  a discussion of how it is that these non-material fields,  express their dynamics within the material domain-  Such are the ways of psyche and the ways of the psychoidal.

Now more than thirteen years after the publication of that book, I remain deeply interested in the workings of these fields, and how it is that  an understanding of the patterns established from these can move the individual into  a meaningful relationship with life and the archetype and so too into a relationship with those non generative archetypal dynamics.

I hope that you find this work of interest and that  you will take time to read the first  70 or so pages in this book within the next  two weeks, and I will respond to the general themes emerging from these. Please feel free to post any questions or comments you may have in the meantime.

Very much looking forward to  meeting each and every one of you through this on line forum.



  Michael Conforti 

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  • Hi Joe. Thanks so much for your enthusiasm and participation in the Book Club this month!--as well as to all of you.  I can't speak for Michael as far as being able to continue, but I will confirm that this month's commentary will stay archived (and technically active) indefinitely. Therefore, questions and comments could theoretically continue and I think it would make sense to keep further dialogue here within the framework. Perhaps Michael will find the time to continue to respond as he can, even though his formal care of the group is being phased out.

    On that note, just today Michael has agreed to host a teleseminar on the book in the next couple of weeks so those who are able to join can hear him talk live about it. There will be a $10 charge to help offset costs and time to arrange and deliver it. However, I believe it will add great value and will also be archived for repeat listening or download. We will announce the date and time just as soon as we can nail it down.

    Again, thanks so much to all of you who have participated with comments or questions or who have patiently read along during the month--and huge thanks to Michael whose contributions have been so generously given during a VERY busy time for him.
  • Thanks for clarifying your remarks. I wanted to address this and maybe Dr. Conforti will have some input here as well.

    "I suppose what I mean is that the signifiers of archetypal expression by people is harder to decode? The source material for analysis is different - especially as I don't work with dream."

    Do you think that advertising is working at a mass consciousness level whereas dreams and hypnotherapy is working closer to a transcendental level? How might we differentiate the two if such a distinction exists?

  • As regards Janis Wilson's post--

    'Innocent, Regular Guy/Girl, Explorer, Hero, Outlaw, Lover, Caregiver, Ruler, Magician, Creator, Sage, Jester"

    Sounds pretty much like the Tarot deck.

    "So ,for me, one way of considering archetypes is as the reference patterns comprised of nets of neuronal connections/associations against which we assess our environmental stimuli"

    I think that considering archetypes as "neruonal connections" might very well miss how they work. I think archetypes are at a level "above" neruonal connections actually. It's rather like asking which came first, the soul or the brain?

    " I believe this is because we all have a primal desire to experience 'unity' which these brands then deliver."

    This I agree with in that we long to experience unity, but I disagree that brands deliver that in any shape, or fashion. They might create the illusion of it, however.

    As a graphic designer, I've often been in the situation of trying to come up with a logo for a company. Usually, this involves combining different archetypes of whatever their philosophy as a company is. Typically, if you go with Saturn and Virgo in a rather Apollonian way, you won't be far off base. I believe that advertising does lead pretty naturally into the archetypes, but  what I don't much care for is using the archetypes to manipulate people into buying things. In that it establishes an identity or conveys information, I think the archetypes are helpful. In that it purports to be something people long to mythologically experience in a transcendent way, I find that to be an entirely "wrong use" of them because no product can give them that anyway and if they assume it does they are making a grave spiritual mistake.

    "I have also qualified as a psycho- hypnotherapist where I have found use of archetypes/archetypal understanding  less useful in a therapeutic context"

    I'd be interested to hear in what way they have become less useful.

    • Yes Joe - the 12 in the above classification are similar but not the same as the Tarot which is after all a classification system of archetypes.

      I agree trying to consider archetypes just in relation to what we know about brain function is limited but I do think we need to make these connections and look for scientific underpinning to bring the study of archetype up to date. I am very much in the commercial arena with archetype and there is a swell of interest in Behavioural Economics & neuroscience which I feel archetype needs to fit into. There are certainly other 'levels'/ways to consider archetypes, which is also being discussed in this thread and Michael's book - i.e. the transpersonal, transcendent & field/quantum.  I feel a bit about this as I do when I speak with semioticians who regard all patterns ( and everything) to be about culture and completely ignore biology. I didn't mean to imply that the 'neuronal connections' was all.

      When it comes to brands & advertising it's more that brands & ads do leverage archetypal patterns and this is in no way done from a manipulative perspective because in my experience most of the creators of ad & brand comms do this at the moment instinctively not consciously at all.  It's part of the mystery as to how advertising & branding works which we are still trying to understand. It's also the reason why lots of advertising & branding doesn't work  - sometimes they tap cohesively into an archetypal pattern and sometimes they don't or they tap into the wrong one for the brand. It's only now that some of us are starting to understand how this stuff might be working and yes that does open the moral, ethical questions of appropriateness.  Personally I still believe we are better knowing how these things work and then addressing this. 

      I agree that you are right in that advertising works to create an illusion of something - hence my comment about mythical story. Likewise when I say that brands act as sloppy or faulty pattern matches what I mean is that they do in fact corrupt what is a natural human process of searching for things in our environment which are a close enough match to our needs - brands create the deception if you like that they will satisfy our needs - which is why in brand circles you can speak about a brand as delivering security or courage etc. It happens to all of us whether we like it or not - it's part of our biology. 

      I'm sorry I'm not really familiar with the language of Saturn/Virgo/Apollinarian  as you've described so I can't comment on that.  I usually counsel brand clients though to be clear about a single archetypal domain in their expression. Brands which mix archetypes or drift away from there archetypal heartland over time seem to perform less well. This is where I believe brands to be very different to us as people - the strongest brands seem to express a very dominant singular archetype.  People of course, you could say, are awash with archetypal material.  I quite like the idea of a 'moment of identity' which is when an archetype expressed by a particualr brand will resonate with an archetype which has momentarily come to the fore in a person.

      Re the therapeutic context. Since I came to archetype via the brand route originally before the therapy application - I had become very competent at archetypal pattern analysis in brands based on how a brand is signifying an archetype in it's communications. This based on codes such as colour, symbol, visual & verbal language etc and also the finding that brands when strong are very singular in their archetypal expression.  I have found it harder to transfer this knowledge directly across to the therapy situation where lots of archetypal material is in play. I suppose what I mean is that the signifiers of archetypal expression by people is harder to decode? The source material for analysis is different - especially as I don't work with dream.

      Hope this clarifies a few points

    • Hello.......

      Let's not forget that Jung investigated the Occult and actually spoke in several lectures about the Tarot referring to the symbols as 'psychological images.'  They are emerging forms from the collective unconscious also.  Also, Jung's psychology is not ego driven in the same way that Freud's psychology is.  It is 'meaning' driven and he used the Hero as a symbol for the individuation process.  Erel Shalit (last month's author) has written a wonderful book about the Hero's path in "Enemy, Cripple & Beggar - Shadows in the Hero's Path," and states that if the ego is not rigidedly bound to the 'totem of collective consciousness,' it may bravely turn around to face what lies in the unconscious.'


      As far as Pearson's PMAI (Pearson Marr Archetype Indicator) I find it a useful adjunct to therapy when introducing clients to the idea of archetypes and how they influence humans and how we align to them or come under their sway.  I actually trained in DC on how to use this seemingly simple assessment to 'jump start' a client's imagination and to guide them away from psychopathologizing their experience with shadow work. 

      Not everyone is interested in long term psychoanalysis, nor can they afford it.  From my pov as a Jungian psychotherapist, the imagination has withered in western culture.  We have concretized it to make it useful for marketing and advertizing purposes.  Whenever someone tells me they don't 'believe' in the unconscious, I point them to the advertising industry and/or ask if they've ever felt compelled to buy something and then later realize that they were duped.  I see this industry acting as the Trickster in many ways. 

      I find it interesting that you consider them less useful in hypno-therapy.  Would you mind sharing with us why?

      Thank you so much for the opportunity to share this.  Now back to the difficult task of trying to understand what Michael has written regarding the emergence of form.


      Take care, nance


  • Glad to know that I've sparked  something, Nance!  Good point about the shadow work. I don't think I could have ever consciously and willfully aligned with the Mother archetype/reality , if I hadn't started the shadow-work "processing"  a few years back.   Of course I had unconsciously identified with Mother, as an emasculated man,  for a long time and became either mushy or very hard and bitter or  both because the inner work (including shadow work)  had not started yet.  It was only after a long period of shatter/shadow work that I magically received the instructions of how to collapse the field of archetypes into the Mother through my active conscious relationship with "her".  I think that I was able to recognize the instructions as right for me, and then consciously try them out, because of the shadow-work that was done.  And now, because of it ,  I can more often show up, with pleasure, for the place  -- this life -- where the rubber meets the road.

  • Education Institution

         Spring has arrived here in Vermont, and with it comes the  aromas of the earth warming and the anticipation of working in gardens,  late nite dinner parties, and more.  So too arrives a great deal of energy for me in working with  archetypes and archetypal fields.   As we are now  at close to the mid-point in this  book club month, I suggest that  we move to the second section of this book, and begin reading the material on the generation of form.  As a prelude to these sections, I  suggest that you read the introduction to my second book, "Threshold Experiences", which speaks to the  power of this work and how it is that in looking at the  generation of  form- we are seeing into the face of the transcendent.  Here we come to see that processes in the material and internal world are just that- processes inherent to the  properties of emergence of  per-figuired fields.

        I welcome your response to this material,

         Michael Conforti

    • Michael, what is Spring.  We go straight from winter to summer here in the fine city of New Orleans.  I believe we enjoyed about a moment a week or two ago just b/f Mardi Gras where the archetypal imagination was on display in all its glory.

      I seem to have misplaced my copy of 'Threshold Experiences' but will read asap.  Can you speak to the idea of 'container' and how it applies to the processes in the internal world?  I don't know if I'm formulating 'good enough' questions.  Can the psyche itself be the container, or is it the dream?  I know the analytic session functions as container where we definitely see the properties of emergence.  Also place - I'll be on your Genius Loci: The Spirit of Place call this thursday.  I do believe place functions as container also. 

      Thank you in advance.  

    • Hello everyone - I am late coming into this conversation - wanted to be involved but then was sidetracked. Apologies.

      I feel I should give some context for any of my comments.  I am not classically trained in archetype from a Jungian perspective. My experience comes from working originally with archetype/s in branding. Essentially working with the idea that strong brands leverage archetypal patterns in their communication and brand expression which is what makes them so powerful. I have now spent over ten years working and studying to try and understand why this is the case which has led me through many & various disciplines, schools of thought etc. My early academics are also in the biological sciences so I have also been interested in how the idea of archetypes fits with new understandings in neuroscience etc. I must say first that one of the biggest difficulties in taking a cross discipline approach & in having to simplify concepts often for a commercial audience is that language & terminology, the discourse of archetypal study you might say, is a huge stumbling block towards understanding. However, perhaps I can share some of what I have learned from the realm of brands on the way. I originally worked with Carol Pearson's system of archetypes based on the Hero's journey. So essentially 12 master archetypes - Innocent, Regular Guy/Girl, Explorer, Hero, Outlaw, Lover, Caregiver, Ruler, Magician, Creator, Sage, Jester. It didn't take long before I found I needed to sub divide/subtype these archetypes.  I have found it useful to build a classification of archetypes as a way to work with these patterns in branding as way to start to codify the patterns I was seeing/analysing and to inject some empirical tone to the work rather than it be my subjective opinion. It has been both helpful & frustrating as there are overlaps, complexities and often times it can seem like all archetypes merge? In looking at how brands exist in markets there are often ways in which different archetypes seem to 'play' or interact together.  I feel it is important to have some form of classification of archetypes which is written up and available so that there is a common understanding of how to recognise or work with an archetype which is not just a subjective opinion.  Working with brands has forced me to identify for example specific colours, behaviours, symbology, language etc which are likely to be observed for a particualr archetype.  That said definition of 'what is an archetype' is difficult and not collectively agreed so I often feel in something of a double bind when speaking of classfication.   Like Micheal I have come to think mostly of archetypes as huge domains of meaning and use more often these days the idea of pattern analysis to describe what I do. The idea of patterns also fits for me with the ideas from Human Givens Psychology & neuroscience that a primary way humans operate is through metaphorical pattern matching.  So brands/advertising work because they act like 'sloppy' or 'faulty' pattern matches for inherent behavioural patterns in the psyche.  So ,for me, one way of considering archetypes is as the reference patterns comprised of nets of neuronal connections/associations against which we assess our environmental stimuli and know how to respond. So archetypes at this level relate very specifically to the workings of the implicit, habit, system1 or what I like to call the pattern brain. On this basis archetypes also relate ( in other terminologies) to 'parts', 'ego states', 'subpersonalities'.  Nowadays I mostly work with a number of different sorts of archetypes/patterns/domains - what I refer to as Character/personality archetypes/patterns, story narratives and primal drivers. The idea of oppositions and paradox is also strong in the brand world. Strong, archetypal brands almost always have some kind of opposition at their heart and indeed it seems that the creation of mythical story in a brands advertising allows it to in some measure provide some kind of 'holding' or resolution of an opposition which makes it very powerful in resonating with us to make us buy/like the brand.  I believe this is because we all have a primal desire to experience 'unity' which these brands then deliver. So we might conclude that it is only by the resolution of archetypal opposition that we experience the transcendent? 

      I have also qualified as a psycho- hypnotherapist where I have found use of archetypes/archetypal understanding  less useful in a therapeutic context - I'm still working on that one. 

      I hope some of this answers to points raised by some other writers of comments in this club.  I am endlessly fascinated by this field as well as frustrated at how much & how little we know. I am also very aware that I often times feel like I speak a different language from others in this field - so while I think I agree with much of what you write Micheal I often times struggle with deciphering the writing into my 'model of the world'/finding the ways to expand my model of  how these things fit together.

  • Hello Michael, I enjoyed your book very much. I am working on my doctorate in organizational development and my research concerns the intersection between emergence and synchronicity. I am wondering what your thoughts are with respect to Patricia Skar, Peter Saunders, George Hogenson, and Joseph Cambray’s idea that that the archetype (quoting from Hogenson’s 2005 paper The Self, the symbolic and synchronicity: Virtual realities and the emergence of the psyche”)

     “does not exist, in the sense of being a discrete ontologically definable entity with a place in the genome or the cognitive arrangement of modules or schemas in the brain. Rather, … the archetype, like the complex, is an iterative moment in the self-organization of the symbolic world.”

    Taking the perspective that the symbolic is a “relatively autonomous self-organizing domain” instead of just a system of representations, puts it in the realm of emergent phenomena – i.e. power laws, fractals, scale invariance, etc., so that as he says later “the complex, the archetype, the synchronicity and the Self all ‘exist’ as moments in a scale invariant distribution governed by a power law.”

    I especially like his proposal to view synchronicity as “an element in a continuum of symbolically structured moments in the psyche and the psyche's relationship to the world at large, rather than as a radical departure from the norms of nature and the otherwise ordered world of our experiences.”

    Having read your book, I am not sure it necessarily impacts the main thrust of your ideas, but I’d like to know how you see this altering or affecting current Jungian perspective on archetypes.

    Cynthia Cavalli

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