Voices around the world are announcing a rapid decay of culture forms and a descent into dystopia. On a grass roots level, much of that decay is driven by the rise of infantile narcissism centered on ‘me and my vulnerabilities’ along with ‘me and my demands’ — a pathological focus that channels its energy into topics like racial or gender-diversity tribalisms, and the insistence that one’s needs be taken care of by others.
The force of such tribalism tends to take as prisoner all remaining citizens who don’t identify themselves with the child archetype, creating a two-class society of childlike adults who set out to pull on the heartstrings of more matured, responsible adults within the same society.
The result is a society operating not so much on a division between generations, races, genders, income or sexual orientations, but divided instead by those with a psychological attitude of children vs those with an adult mindset.
Using biological language, what we are witnessing is a hacking of the parental brain of society, garnering its collective sympathies with the bait of dramatized neoteny. When our biological operating system is hacked in this way, and the hack is taught as cultural operating practice within government institutions, universities and in popular culture, there is little chance to circumvent its omnipotent demands.
The only way to circumvent the ‘aggressive vulnerability’ of the child archetype is for a portion of society to say NO when faced with its demands — demands which tend to appear as an insistence for redress of female victimhood, race victimhood, “marginalized” sexuality, wage inequality and so on — the masks of the child archetype.
Biologists, neurologists, evolutionary psychologists, and ethologists have long recognized parent and child instincts in the form of parents’ urge to caretake and protect juveniles, and conversely of juveniles having an impulse to announce their vulnerability to signal their need to be cared for.
This biological fact was independently discovered and understood by archetypal psychologists (parent & child archetypes), object relations psychologists (parent & child objects), and by other schools of psychology dealing with the ‘inner child’ and its need for caretaking. Object relations psychology goes so far as claiming the sexual libido is subservient to the evolutionary imperative of parent~child bonding, making this dyad the strongest motivator in human affairs.
As a side observation, Jungians differentiate between the child archetype as described above, and what they alternatively refer to as the ‘puer archetype.’ These radically different archetypes can be represented respectively by the images of a baby or toddler (child archetype), or by an image of an older child/teenager (puer archetype). The puer archetype is perfectly represented by the figure of Peter Pan – youthful, loving of new experiences, playful, spontaneous, optimistic, adventurous and independent.
Contrary to the phenomenology of child archetype which is represented by a dependent infant in need of coddling and protecting, the puer archetype mentioned above is an independent child or youth; an imperative vital to the psychological health of all men and women.
This Jungian differentiation between the motives of infantile child archetype, and youthful puer archetype respectively, leads me to reject psychopathologising of the puer impulse, as happens when people refer to it as a Peter Pan syndrome or as a failure to launch, which essentially brands men as “pathetic man babies” and attempts to shame them into assuming one-sided, and indeed one-dimensional posture of adult responsibility. Failure to launch applies more properly to an overidentification with the child archetype – a posture that does deserve challenging when it reaches the status of personal or cultural dominance.
While the above video provides only half of the full speech given by Hillman on the child archetype, it does impart a good overview of the topic. Hillman touches on Jung’s description of the child archetype as including traits of vulnerability, a sense of futurity (that life will begin in the future), innocence, and also a feeling of hermaphroditism. This sexual orientation (hermaphroditism) of the child archetype is also confirmed in Freud’s idea that toddlers are polymorphous perverse and not yet forming what Freud understood as an appropriate genital identity as boy or girl.
Perhaps those early observations by Jung and Freud make sense when you consider the concerns of the ‘marginalized’ wokists today who champion multiple genders, non-binarism, bisexuality, transgenderism etc. and aggressively demand to be taken care of.
The Dogma of Gender – by Patricia Berry (1977)
The Great Mother, Her Son, Her Hero, and the Puer – by James Hillman (1973)