On a Saturday morning, most Cape Townians are having coffee either on the luxurious Camps Bay beach strip or on trendy Bree Street. I, however, being the anti-socialite that I am, chose to go to a lecture. This lecture was on the topic of the Collective Unconscious, more specifically, Carl Jung’s theory.

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I learned in this lecture that most issues, traumas or even simple situations that we find ourselves in can be linked to a myth, legend or even fairy tale. If you are able to link your situation to the correct myth then you will be able to see where your situation could be heading. Or, once you become conscious of your situation you are then able to understand it better and possibly change the outcome.

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I found all this rather fascinating! Why else did stories exist in the first place? To teach us would be my guess. We tell each other stories of our own experiences to hopefully teach each other something that we have learned.

The lecturer also mentioned Jung’s theory on Archetypes, which is not to be mistaken with stereo types. Once he explained this my mind cast back to when I was 17 years old. I had joined a Commedia dell’arte workshop. In this Italian form of theatre, there are stock characters that you can put into a certain situation and based on their character Archetype you could see what the outcome of the story could be. The plays created are just different situations that these personality types are put into.

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We were all asked to create a character and as diverse as we tried to be each character that we created not only fell into one of the archetypes but also linked to something we were going through at that time which we discovered through playing out the situation…it got slightly awkward when my ex-boyfriend and I were told we were clearly “The Lovers”.

If you take a good look at people especially in social settings you can so easily see patterns of behavior repeated in two completely different people. Simply because they share an Archetype. Looking at this situation of Myths and Archetypes can be rather comforting. To know that you are not a freak there are tonnes of people out there just like you, and to know that your situation has probably happened 1000 times before. It’s comforting and takes some people down a good peg or two.

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Lately, I have been watching the old UK TV show ‘Skins’. It seems to be heavily character based, each episode focuses on a character and their development. With each of these characters, you can see a clear Archetype. I think the creators must have been inspired by Jung in some way, especially in one of the episodes where they linked the lead character’s dilemma to a Greek Myth.

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I suppose there must be some truth to it. So, how much control do we have over which Archetype we are? Which story we land up in? In my opinion, total control. You have the power to choose what personality you want to be. If you don’t like the story you are in, choose to rewrite it. Finally, if you can’t see a way out remember, you are truly not alone in this. Not at all.

Kat Coetzee