Of all the archetypes that C G Jung comprehensively explored, the archetype of The Child is probably the one least comprehended. Easily confused with the literal child unto whom we project our intense desire to re-acquaint ourselves to the characteristics of The Child energy forgetting in the process the “perverse derelictions” as James Hillman described it that are part and parcel of this major archetype.
The 20th and 21st centuries may very well be recognised as the centuries of idealisation and sentimentalism of childhood and therefore of the child. From child exploitation to child coddling we have swung the pendulum, desperately hoping to retrieve our own abandoned Child. No matter which century we were from, for most of us and regardless of the means employed, the journey has been about achieving fusion and sublimating the latter.
Where in the not so distant past the human child was treated harshly and often without any form of pity, the workhouse of 19th century England being as good a representative as the sweat shops of India or porno rings of the West today, we have come a long way to welcome, coddle, spoil the child in our families with parents juggling activities and car trips, princes and princesses birthday parties and designer clothes.
When in the past we were so afraid of the living child that we literally exhausted and killed it, likening childhood to madness and diseases and sins in need of being pulled out by force like a bad tooth, still afraid of the power of childhood we are now using different strategies to appease the archetype that has been abandoned and who is coming back in raging in our lives, destroying relationships and demanding of attention.
The reality is that we have to abandon the child in order to grow up. Even in the best possible childhood environment the child will need to remain separate from adulthood and from the ego. Psychologists such as Erickson and Piaget to name but a few determined phases of development that included automatically the abandonment ofchildhood and of its childish traits also demanded by society, leaving us hopefully with childlike potentials such as wonderment, creativity and enthusiasm.
The problems arise when the childhood is less than good enough, when the Child did not get any opportunities to express itself in creations, ideas, feelings and emotions, the positive and the negative ones. Then the search for theabandoned Child becomes restless and compulsive and can be found in marriages and families where the inner Child of the living child competes for existence with that of the parents. The competition does not stop here either: it can be found in any attempt to relationships, with a partner, with a friend, at work etc…
It is therefore a major task of human kind to acquaint itself to the Child archetype and establish a dialogue with it. Left unrecognised and on its own it will simply bring regression, depression and anxiety of living. As a constant partner however, it can foster a capacity for joy and wonderment at the beauty of this world as well as a feeling of enthusiasm for one’s life. The choice should be simple don’t you think? For more on Inner Child work contact me directly through www.surfingtheblues.com.au