Frau Minne and Gender Roles

Gendered customs come in a variety of different models. Each mythological representation of a god or goddess, for example, shows a different slant on gendered behavior; there is no ‘one model fits all’. In this context I want to bring attention to Frau Minne, a medieval personification or “goddess” who offers a template for gendered behavior.

What we refer to as “respectful relationships” today can be seen a euphemism for Frau Minnie’s effort to establish a gender hierarchy where women are cast as nobles in relation to chivalric males – ie. women as ‘nobles of love’ deserving of classist characterizations like “esteem,” “respect,” “dignity,” “worth,” “praise” and “status.”

Frau Minne proposes that a man’s job is to “place a Lady on a pedestal” and to offer himself in a position of sacrifice and service.

This archetypal formula underpins romantic love, along with three waves of feminism, and also the Jungian fixation with the notion of “the feminine” (the Jungian counterpart of feminism). These systems of devotion to female esteem point back to the vision of Frau Minne whose religion, according to Joseph Campbell, triumphed over Christianity during the late Middle Ages — which is why today the romantic love literary genre outsells all of the world’s holy books *combined*.

In summary, Frau Minne provides an example of how gender concepts are a result, to some extent, of the archetypal imagination.

■ For a longer treatise on this theme, see: ‘Frau Minne’ the Goddess who steals men’s hearts: a pictorial excursion

‘The Routledge Handbook on Identity in Byzantium’ offers critique of gynocentrism-theory

The following except critiquing the rise of gynocentrism in the Middle Ages is from ‘Byzantium in the American Alt-Right Imagination: Paradigms of the Medieval Greek Past Among Men’s Rights Activists and White Supremacists,’ by Adam J. Goldwyn, published as chapter 23 in The Routledge Handbook on Identity in Byzantium.

Despite the over-the-top title suggesting men’s issues groups are all “alt-right” and “white supremacists” (a false or extremely exaggerated claim), Adam has nevertheless utilized some valid source material for his critique, and has presented it with some fidelity. I have limited the following excerpt to where the author has critiqued material on this website – At the bottom under Notes, I provide a few corrections to the author’s comments.

* * *

The most detailed articulation of MRA views of the Middle Ages can be found in the work of Peter Wright, whose website exemplifies these trends of men’s gender based subjugation to women and the development of specialised pseudo-jargon for describing it.a Indeed, its tagline, “Gynocentric culture was born in the Middle Ages with the practices of romantic chivalry and courtly love. It continues today relatively unchanged,”12 with its Greco Latinate title, reflects the importance of specialised pseudo-academic language to the formation of MRA ideology, while also providing the Middle Ages as the moment for the rise of this new system of male oppression.13

Wright’s “timeline of gynocentric culture” centres the medieval romance in this narrative of historical development. He begins by arguing that “Priοr to 1200 AD broadspread gynocentric culture simply did not exist, despite evidence of isolated gynocentric acts and events. It was only in the Middle Ages that gynocentrism developed cultural complexity and became a ubiquitous enduring cultural norm.”14 Indeed, Wright identifies 1102 as the year when “Gynocentrism meme first introduced,” ascribing the fault to William ΙΧ of Aquitaine, who, in addition to writing troubadour poetry, “part[ed] with the tradition of fighting wars strictly οn behalf of man, king, God and country,” as exemplified by his having “the image of his mistress painted on his shield.”15 The second entry in the timeline comes in 1152, when William’s granddaughter Eleanor of Aquitaine began to “utilise poetry and song for setting expectations of how men should act around them, thus was born the attitude of romantic chivalry promoting the idea that men need to devote themselves to serving the honour, purity and dignity of women.”16 Thus, medieval romance becomes the vehicle by which gynocentric values were spread. Other dates in the timeline also suggest the centrality of the medieval romance: Wright specifies 1180, when Marie de Champagne directs Chretien de Troyes to write “a love story about Lancelot and Guinevere elaborating the nature of gynocentric chivalry” and the 1188 publication of Andreas Capellanus’s The Art of Courtly Love as moments of particular importance.17 The twelfth-century origins of gynocracy from within the genre of the romance is also important for MRA use of Byzantine literature since the twelfth century saw a similar
revival of romance writing in Constantinople.18

For Men’s Rights Activists, the past is not a thing that merits dispassionate study for its own sake; rather, its value lies in how their interpretation of it can reveal the ways in which society continues to empower women at the expense of men. Thus, the timeline’s concluding entry, “21st century: Gynocentrism continues,” makes explicit the connection between the deep history of gynocentrism and the influence of the medieval romance οn contemporary society:

The modern feminist movement has rejected some chivalric customs such as opening car doors or giving up a seat οn a bus for women; however, they continue to rely οn ‘the spirit of chivalry’ to attain new privileges for women: opening car doors has become opening doors into university or employment via affirmative action; and giving up seats οn busses has become giving up seats in boardrooms and political parties via quotas. Despite the varied goals, contemporary gynocentrism remains a project for maintaining and increasing women’s power with the assistance of chivalry.19

Ιn addition to giving examples of how the underlying principles of medieval chivalry manifest themselves in modern culture, Wright’s conflation of feminism with the Civil Rights movement is also a standard tactic in MRA rhetoric. Donna Zuckerberg refers to the transference of racial discourse to gender discourse as “the appropriative bait-and-switch” by which MRA members “appropriate to disastrous effect a topic that is about race and the legacy of slavery and use it to support an ideology that allows white men to restrict women’s reproductive freedom by limiting access to abortion and birth control.”20 Thus, in this instance, a historically informed reading would acknowledge that affirmative action and ending restrictions οn bus seating were not policies rooted in gender; rather, they were policies of racial desegregation. The language of civil rights is thus turned to the empowerment of MRA.


Ιn “The Birth of Chivalric Love,” for instance, Peter Wright defines several key terms, each of which has its own modern parallel. “Damseling,” for instance, “is a popular shorthand for women’s projection of themselves as damsels in distress. [ … W]omen have been taught from generation to generation to mimic juvenile characteristics via the use of makeup and vocal intonations, along with a feigning of distress typical of children–which collectively works to extract utility of men.”22 Having laid out the historical roots of damseling in the Middle Ages and in the medieval romance, Wright applies this paradigm to contemporary politics in a post entitled “Damseling, chivalry and courtly love (part two).”23 Arguing that damseling has “been referred to as grievance feminism, victim feminism, and even fainting-couch feminism,” Wright offers the contemporary example of Anita Sarkeesian, who urged that game designers
diversify the kinds of characters and plot arcs available to female characters in video games, concluding that “Sarkeesian’s case is particularly poignant because, from the many subjects she could have highlighted to damsel herself for attention, she chose to damsel herself over the very existence of damsels. This demonstrates that even when disavowing the medieval pageant of damsels in distress, feminists continue to enact it even while obfuscating their complicity in the tradition.”24 Thus, the medieval archetype of the damsel in distress becomes redefined in a way that actually gives the woman agency over the men in the medieval romance, and this then becomes the paradigm for modern ways of considering gendered power dynamics.

Similarly, Wright argues that “Courtly Ladies (= Feminists). Feminists today refer to courtly ladies of the late Middle Ages as the first feminists.”25 Having redefined a commonly understood medieval concept with a counterintuitive new definition, Wright then goes οn to make the connection between medieval and modern: “Not surprisingly this was the time [12th to 14th centuries] when powerful women were able to establish the female-headed “courts of love” which acted in a comparable way to today’s Family Courts in that both arbitrated disputes between couples.”26 The family court, as an institution in which women’s parental rights and bodily and economic autonomy are sometimes guaranteed by the force of the state, is a frequent target of Men’s Rights Activism. Parallel to the concept of the Courtly Lady as feminist is the Troubadour, further subdivided into Troubadour Ι and Troubadour ΙΙ. Troubadour Ι is a “PUA [pick-up artist] and Game promoter [ … whose] job was to spread the word about the virtues of chivalric love through music, song, poetry, and storytelling.”27 MRAs oppose this type of troubadour because, even though their behaviour is insincere in that they only perform chivalry as a way to “gain sex,” they nevertheless support the intellectual underpinnings of chivalry and thus gynocentrism.28 Troubadour ΙΙ is defined as “Protofeminist Men Sometimes derogatorily named ‘manginas’. Troubadour ΙΙ is a sincere believer in chivalric love, unlike Troubadour Ι, who uses the rhetoric of chivalry only to advance his own ends. Thus, where Troubadour Ι and Troubadour ΙΙ have the same function in supporting chivalry, Troubadour ΙΙ is a figure of greater scorn insofar as he voluntarily submits to this system: “Think of today’s version being the typical protofeminist men who work slavishly to pass οn the message of their feminist superiors, much as these troubadours slaved to advocate the narcissistic idiosyncrasies of their Ladies.”29

None of these figures is the subject of as much derision as the “White Knight,” whom Wright defines as “such heroic individuals, men who are gallant in so many ways, but mostly the wrong ways such as showing-off to undeserving women and concomitantly delighting in competing with and hurting other men.”30 Wright exemplifies this concept by comparing the ‘Έnterprise of the Green Shield with the White Lady … a chivalric order founded by Jean le Maingre and twelve knights in 1399 committing themselves to the protection of women” with the contemporary “White Ribbon Campaign in which male ‘ambassadors’ pledge an oath to all of womanhood to never condone, excuse or remain silent about violence against women, and to intervene and take action against any man accused of wrongdoing against a woman.”31 Wright here suggests that men who willingly submit to women are foolish and contemptible: these men abandon their own agency, believe all women who claim they have been the subject of violence, and, as importantly, pledge to fight other men. Such groups thus endanger men’s rights both by subordinating men to women and by acting violently against other me. This is particularly wrongheaded in that MRA ideology suggests that it is in fact men, not women, who are the object of gender-based violence and that men should never do harm to other men for the sake of women. From this, Wright again suggests the continuity between medieval and modern ideas of gynocracy: “The similarities in these gallant missions make clear that the lineage of white knights has progressed seamlessly into the modern era.”32 Taken together, these (and the many other instances of medieval redefinition) create a shared in-group idiolect that allows men to analyse both literary texts and contemporary behaviour.


12 “Gynocentrism and its Cultural Origins,” accessed August 20, 2019,
13 Zuckerberg notes that the “misuse of the language of scholarly interpretation” is also a key feature of MRA rhetoric (Dead White Men, 43).
14 Peter Wright, “Timeline of Gynocentric Culture,” October 11, 2013, accessed August 20, 2019, As a demonstration of the way that these ideas migrate around the manosphere, this timeline was also posted to, perhaps the main MRA site, accessed August 20, 2019,
15 For the significance of the figure of the troubadour to MRA thought, see below.
16 Wright, “Timeline of Gynocentric Culture.”
17 Wright, “Timeline of Gynocentric Culture,” also suggests, without any evidence, that “Chretien de Troyes abandoned this project before it was completed because he objected to the implicit approval of the adulterous affair between Lancelot and Guinevere that Marie had directed him to write.”
18 Though the contextual nuances of the rise of romance writing and the classification of various texts within the Byzantine revival are subjects of much debate, the broad contours of the field as outlined in seminal work οn the subject, Roderick Beaton’s The Medieval Greek Romance (Cambridge: CUP, 1989), remain largely intact. The revival is broken down into roughly two periods: those of the twelfth century produced under the Komnenian dynasty in the twelfth century and hence called the Komnenian novels and those published under the Palaiologan dynasty from the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries. For translations of the three extant Komnenian novels, see Elizabeth Jeffreys, Four Byzantine Novels: Theodore Prodromos, Rhodanthe and Dosikles; Eumathios Makrembolites, Hysrnine and Hysminias; Constantine Manasses, Aήstandros and Kallithea; Niketas Eugenianos, Drosilla and Charikles (Liverpool: Liverpool UP, 2012). For translations of three of the Palaiologan romances, see Gavin Betts, Three Byzantine Novels (London: Roudedge, 2019) and, more recently, Kostas Yiavis, Imperios and Margarona: Rhymed Version (Athens: Cultural Foundation of the National Bank of Greece, 2019). For a recent scholarly overview of the Palaiologan romances, see Adam Goldwyn and Ingela Nilsson, eds., Reading the Late Byzantine Romance: Α Handbook (Cambridge: CUP, 2019).
19 For Zuckerberg’s broader analysis of this as it relates to the appropriation of race, gender, and classical literature, see Zuckerberg, Dead White Men, 42.
20 Zuckerberg, Dead White Men, 41.
21 Adam Kostakis, “Pig Latin,” May 24, 2014, accessed August 20, 2010, For “frame theory” or “frame control” as an MRA rhetorical strategy, see Zuckerberg, Dead White Men, 39.
22 Peter Wright, “Damseling, Chivalry and Courtly Love (Part One),” July 3, 2016, accessed August 20,
23 Wright, “Damseling (Part Two).
24 Wright, “Damseling (Part Two).
25 Peter Wright, “The Birth of Chivalric Love,” July 14, 2013, accessed August 20, 2020,
26 Wright, “Birth of Chivalric Love.”
27 Wright, “Birth of Chivalric Love.”
28 For which, see Zuckerberg, Dead White Men, 2018, in which she notes that “Members of the men’s rights movement see pickup artists as participating in and contributing to gynocentrism; by placing so much value οn women as sex objects, they inadvertently afford women power over them. Pickup artists, meanwhile, believe that sexual success is a key element of being a true alpha male, and they believe those in the men’s rights movement channel their sexual frustration into social activism because they are unable to convince women to have sex with them” (17).
29 Wright, “Birth of Chivalric Love.”
30 Wright, “Birth of Chivalric Love.” “Gallantry” is another term of derision drawn from the Middle Ages to function in the present: gallantry is derided as a form of male acquiescence to gynocracy through which it lost its militaristic connotations and became associated with indulgent behavior towards women.
31 Wright, “Birth of Chivalric Love.”
32 Wright, “Birth of Chivalric Love.”


Comments – by Peter Wright

Paragraph 1. The author makes a claim that I use “pseudo jargon” and offers as the only example a truncated google search byline: “Gynocentric culture was born in the Middle Ages with the practices of romantic chivalry and courtly love. It continues today relatively unchanged.” The words used here, such as chivalry and courtly love, hardly amount to pseudo jargon, nor does the proposition that courtly love (and its descendent romantic love) entails a degree of pedestalization of women – a practice that can be fairly referred to as gynocentric. The only other word cited as pseudo jargon is ‘damseling’ which is defined as shorthand for the universally recognized spectacle of the “Damsel in distress” – which again hardly amounts to a difficult, or esoteric pseudo jargon. I will leave it up to the author to clarify whether there are more troublesome words that he didn’t mention in his critique, or perhaps by ‘pseudo jargon’ he is referring to relatively common parlance unfamiliar to most academic fields, including his own field, which is infected with gender-studies jargon?

Paragraph 3. Quote: “For Men’s Rights Activists, the past is not a thing that merits dispassionate study for its own sake; rather, its value lies in how their interpretation of it can reveal the ways in which society continues to empower women at the expense of men.” Could not the preceding charge be made of the feminist lens which has, over the last 50 years, completely dominated and biased most academic readings of history? If the answer is reasonably a yes, then a dispassionate emphasis on the gynocentric facets of historical writings & societies is a necessary step to balance the academic ledger.

Paragraph 4. Quote: “Ιn addition to giving examples of how the underlying principles of medieval chivalry manifest themselves in modern culture, Wright’s conflation of feminism with the Civil Rights movement is also a standard tactic in MRA rhetoric…” I’m not aware that I have done this anywhere on this website nor in my published books, and in fact don’t remember using the phrase “civil rights movement” in relation to feminism anywhere. This charge appears to be a completely fabricated one, as applied to my work. Not to put too fine a line on this topic I have, nevertheless, lost count of the thousands of feminists (both obscure and prominent) who do compare the feminist movement and women’s fighting against oppression precisely with that of the civil rights movement for African Americans – and I could provide an extremely long list for same.

The author continues, quote: “Thus, in this instance, a historically informed reading would acknowledge that affirmative action and ending restrictions οn bus seating were not policies rooted in gender; rather, they were policies of racial desegregation.” Again, the ‘bait-and-switch’ appears to be the author’s own, substituting a bizarre strawman in place of proper analysis of the written word. Perhaps the author can enlighten about which offending text he is referring to.

Footnote 17. Quote: Wright, “Timeline of Gynocentric Culture,” also suggests, without any evidence, that “Chretien de Troyes abandoned this project before it was completed because he objected to the implicit approval of the adulterous affair between Lancelot and Guinevere that Marie had directed him to write.” – The source for this sentence was and remains hyperlinked in the original paragraph on (from its first publication date in October 2013). The sentence source is the Wikipedia article on Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart which reads in part, “Marie de Champagne was well known for her interest in affairs of courtly love, and is believed to have suggested the inclusion of this theme into the story. For this reason, it is said that Chrétien could not finish the story himself because he did not support the adulterous themes.” [Wikipedia citation for this claim is: Uitti, Karl D. (1995). Chrétien de Troyes Revisited. New York, New York: Twayne Publishers. ISBN 0-8057-4307-3.].

*Errors like those detailed above are extremely common in gender-studies informed writers – writers who rush to the apriori goal of establishing non-feminist approaches to literature as a bogeyman. That said, Adam Goldwyn’s above piece, while carrying several flawed assumptions, provides a far superior effort to that of Christa Hoddap whose book on men’s issues literature titled Men’s Rights, Gender, and Social Media is saturated with transliteration errors, errors of attribution (sloppily ascribing several texts to the wrong authors), citing of debunked and out-of-date assumptions from gender-studies writers, and ultimately offering conclusions that reaffirm misandric feminist fantasies about non-feminist, male-focused writings. In her favor Hodapp does, like Goldwyn, isolate some representative sources of literature to analyze (as compared with the standard feminist practice of citing unrepresentative, extreme, outlier texts) even as her conclusions amount to hyperbolic misrepresentations for the most part. I will provide a short review of Hodapp’s book in future, if time allows.

Women Viewing Men as Dogs: A Study in Gynocentrism & Misandry

The following book titles are all aimed at female readers and were collected from a cursory glance at Amazon. This sample is nowhere near the entirety of those available in this, er, genre – but they are sufficient to paint a picture of how millions of women around the world apparently view relationships with men as experiments in animal behaviorism and manipulation strategies, with the aim of controlling men.

The tables of contents reveal the books as patently disrespectful toward men, misandric and certainly repulsive for any self-respecting male. But for the adventurous reader who would like to look more closely at the content, each of the titles are searchable at

Early Men’s Movement: 1810–1960


The following is a sampling of men’s human rights initiatives constituting the early men’s rights movement, a list that could be easily expanded into thousands of initiatives by the diligent researcher. Bear in mind that although we are talking of a single men’s movement, it is more accurately defined as the aggregate of separate initiatives in the same manner as separate feminist initiatives are spoken of as one movement:

1810 A network of meeting places under the collective name ‘Henpeck’d Husbands Club’ are established for men who were enduring abusive behavior from wives. The club set up dozens of chapters across Britain and in Europe, which offered support and advice for men enduring emotional or physical abuse. 

1856  A long newspaper article entitled A Word for Men’s Rights is published in Putnam’s Monthly, which discusses sexist laws that oppressed men and benefited women, including the practice of frivolous, unjustified lawsuits for supposed breach of marriage promise.

1857  A Mr. Todd proposes a “Men’s Rights Conference” be held in response to exaggerations of the women’s rights movement.

1875  Article entitled Women’s and Men’s Rights appeared in the 1875 volume Historic and literary miscellany by G.M.D. Bloss

1886  Ernest Belfort Bax, England, writes his first major commentary on gynocentrism and misandry, ‘Some Bourgeois Idols; Or Ideals, Reals, and Shams.’

1890s  New York Alimony Club (informal)

1896  Ernest Belfort Bax, England, co-authors book, The Legal Subjection of Men (Twentieth Century Press).

1896  Anti-Bardell Bachelor Band, Atlanta Georgia. Formed to fight against a national campaign headed by activist Charlotte Smith (Women’s Rescue League) to promote a tax on bachelors. Another, similar effort was made by the Hoboken Bachelor’s Club in Hoboken, New Jersey.

1898  League for Men’s Rights formed by Mr. William Austin in London. The movement is reported in newspapers of the time as a “Men’s Rights Movement”.

1908  Ernest Belfort Bax, England, republishes his 1896 book, The Legal Subjection of Men (New Age Press)

1911  Anti-Alimony Association, New York

1912  Ernest Belfort Bax, England, writes a landmark book ‘The Fraud of Feminism’ in which he called feminism a fraud and discussed “female privilege”

1912  Anti-alimony leader: George Esterling – Denver, Colorado

1925  Samuel Reid, “Alimony Sam,” the “alimony martyr” of California

1926  Men’s Rights organizations formed Bund für Männerrechte, Vienna, founded by Sigurd von Hoeberth (Höberth) and Leopold Kornblüh in March 1926. In January 1927 the Bund split into two organizations circa: Aequitas (Hoeberth), Justicia (Kornblueh); journal “Self-Defense”

1926  Themisverbandes (Men’s Rights organization for female members, Sigurd Höberth von Schwarzthal). The founding of this organization led to a schism in Bund January

1927  Aequitas Weltbund für Männerrechte (Aequitas Word Federation for Men’s Rights) (international), Vienna, following a schism in Bund für Männerrechte (Federation for Men’s Rights). This was Sigurd Hoeberth’s new organization for men’s rights which welcomed female members.

1927  Justitia Verein für Männer und Familienrecht (Justitia Society for Men’s Rights and Family Rights), Vienna, founded by Leopold Kornblüh following a schism in Bund für Männerrechte (Federation for Men’s Rights). This group did not allow female members.

1927  Alimony Club of Illinois, Society of Disgruntled Alimony Payers, Chicago, founded by Dr. Vernon B. Cooley and second wife, Mrs. Bessie Cooley

1927  Alimony Payers Protective Association, led by Robert Gilbert Ecob

1927  Milwaukee Alimony Club, Wisconsin

1927  Fifty-Fifty League, London; manifesto “The Sex War”

1928  Tibet Men’s Rights organization (name of org. unknown), founded by Amouki

1929  World’s League for the Rights of Men’ formed in the UK, advocating for male issues, and holding an anti-“ultra-feminist” stance. The League had chapters in Vienna, Berlin, Munich, and other Continental centres.

1930  D. A. M. Association, Kansas City, Missouri, founded by French L. Nelson

1930  National Sociological League, Dr. Alexander Dallek, executive secretary

1931  Organization “The Modern Men’s Rights Movement” (formation date unknown) publishes broadsheet, The Gauntlet outlining goals for gender equality and “emancipation of man from feminist domination.”

1932  Alimony Club of New York County (Adolph Wodiska) (cited Jan. 9, 1932)

1932  Ohio Alimony Association, Cleveland

1933  National Divorce Reform League, Theodore Apstein (cited Feb. 14, 1933)

1933  Men’s rights” org ‘1933 Men’s Association’ started by lieutenant colonel R. A. Broughton, England

1935  Alimony Reform League, New York

1948  Society for Men’s Rights forms to address various forms of social and legal discrimination against men, London.

1948  Men’s rights magazine ‘Men’s Review’ launched in England, with at least two consecutive volumes circulated across the country.

1960 Divorce Racket Busters (incorporated 1961 as U.S.A. Divorce Reform, Inc.) – California – Reuben Kidd. This initiative continued to operate into the late 1960’s.

Feature image: Ernest Belfort Bax.

For a more detailed overview of the Men’s Human Rights Movement,
click on the following Amazon title:


The following articles explore the similarity of courtly & romantic love with the structural practices of BDSM. 

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) compared with gynocentric beliefs & behaviours

DSM criteria for narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) are compared in the table below with beliefs and behaviours of the gynocentrism oriented woman (GW):

Table excerpted from: Wright, Peter. Gynocentrism As A Narcissistic Pathology. New Male Studies 9, no. 1 (2020).

Acquired Situational Narcissism

The following excerpt from Mental Disorders of the New Millennium describes how a narcissistic disposition may be ‘acquired’ by individuals on whom society projects special status: elites, doctors, actors, singers and so on. Acquired situational narcissism (as its called), may help to explain some of our cultural fixation with prioritizing women’s status, esteem, wellbeing, and dignity.

* * *


The question remains as to whether narcissism can be culturally conveyed or whether it is inevitably the result of what Heinz Kohut called “repeated empathic failure” or an emotional developmental disability. Psychiatrist Robert B. Millman defined the concept of acquired situational narcissism, a temporary psychological dysfunction that often accompanies fame. Dr. Millman believes that his celebrity patients may act awful because of the situations in which they find themselves. He argues that they acquire their narcissism by being fed their image by the entourage and media around them.

In an interview with New York Times reporter Stephen Sherrill, Millman notes, “They’re not normal. And why would they feel normal when every person in the world who deals with them treats them as if they’re not? We’re all complicit in acquired situational narcissism. . . . We’ve created it. They’re just responding to us.” Millman also notes, as for all narcissists, “Their marriages fall apart, they make lousy parents, they take copious quantities of drugs, they get into trouble with the law. Because they truly don’t believe the world is real, they begin to think they’re invulnerable. Some even risk their lives, since the world can’t hurt them if it’s not real.”

Sam Vaknin, a prolific writer on this subject, disagrees. He argues that because every human being—regardless of the nature of his society and culture—develops healthy narcissism early in life, it becomes pathological only by abuse. For Vaknin, acquired situational narcissism is merely an amplification of earlier narcissistic conduct, traits, style, and tendencies. Not only are narcissists drawn to celebrity, but once powerful, rich, or famous, they gain immunity from social sanctions for expressing the underlying disorder. Whether or not cultures can create narcissism is an interesting question. What is not in doubt is how cultures support narcissism.

Therapists who believe in the process of Acquired Situational Narcissism or cultural narcissism naturally see positive results with major shifts in the environment. Thus, Jennifer, a woman known even among her most competitive colleagues as a “heartless litigator and shameless self-promoter,” found herself in a crisis when a disaster threatened the lives of her parents and siblings. Although it was with great regret and some anger, she “temporarily” returned to the small town in British Columbia to which they had relocated, to “see to their affairs and protect my inheritance.” Out of the San Francisco legal environs, she experienced a “new world” in which she didn’t have to prove herself at all. In the course of her six-month stay, and the deaths of both parents, she found, for the first time, an ease with herself and a relationship with a man who “should have been beneath me.” She decided to remain in British Columbia, transition to a far less aggressive career, and was reportedly happy for the first time in her 45 years. Ironically, that spring, her name appeared on a magazine touting the toughest ten lawyers in California. For the first time in her life, the accolade was unimportant.

Source: “Can Narcissism Be Acquired?” (subheading pp.43-49). in Plante, T. G. (Ed.). Mental disorders of the new millennium. Greenwood Publishing Group. (2006).

* * *

See also:

Wright, P. Gynocentrism As A Narcissistic Pathology. New Male Studies 9, no. 1 (2020).
Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) compared with gynocentric beliefs & behaviours

Gamma bias in the maintenance of gynocentrism

Gamma bias refers to a cognitive gender bias theory developed by Seager & Barry (2019).1

Gamma bias refers to the operation of two concurrent biases: alpha bias (exaggerating or magnifying gender differences) and beta bias (ignoring or minimizing gender differences). Gamma bias occurs when one gender difference is minimized while simultaneously another is magnified, resulting in a doubling of cognitive distortion.2

Gamma bias

Seager & Barry state that gamma bias works by magnifying women’s issues and achievements and minimizing men’s issues and achievements. Alternatively, the dynamic is reversed and employed to minimize negative female traits and behaviors, while magnifying or exaggerating negative male traits or behaviors.

Theories on the purpose of gamma bias

Hypotheses regarding the growth of gamma bias and the disfavoring of males include evolutionary pressures for males to protect and provide for women which involves a reluctance to view men as vulnerable, or alternatively the sociological explanation of ‘ingroup’ and ‘outgroup’ bias which may have developed around men and women in the form of social conventions.1

A further explanation is provided by gynocentrism theory3 which posits an increase of narcissism among women in the context of heterosexual relationships and exchanges, demonstrating what Robert Millman has called ‘acquired situational narcissism.’4 Gamma bias is used to support this dynamic and ensure that women are beneficiaries of narcissistic reassurance. This theory further assumes that gamma bias can be witnessed in most ‘narcissist to non-narcissist’ relationships.

Examples of gamma bias


[1] Seager, M., Barry, J.A. (2019). Cognitive Distortion in Thinking About Gender Issues: Gamma Bias and the Gender Distortion Matrix. In: Barry, J., Kingerlee, R., Seager, M., Sullivan, L. (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of Male Psychology and Mental Health. Palgrave Macmillan
[2] John Barry & Martin Seager, Can we discuss gender issues rationally? Yes, if we can stop gamma bias
[3] Wright, Peter. Gynocentrism As A Narcissistic Pathology. New Male Studies 9, no. 1 (2020).
[4] Can Narcissism Be Acquired? (subheading pp.42-43). in Plante, T. G. (Ed.). (2006). Mental disorders of the new millennium (Vol. 3). Greenwood Publishing Group.

Further reading:

Victimhood and the Child Archetype – by Lyn Cowan

The following excerpt is from a chapter titled ‘The Archetype of The Victim’ in Lyn Cowan’s book Tracking The White Rabbit: Essays In Subversive Psychology (page.92). Here the author makes a direct correlation between victimhood identity and enactment of what Jungians refer to as the child archetype.

* * * *

As noted earlier, the root of the word victim carries an ancient meaning of “increase” or “growth.” However, I am not suggesting that victimization ought to be considered an occasion of “positive growth.” To do so minimizes the horror and fear and shame or represses them completely. The injunction to the victim to “grow” through adversity is a subtle appeal to the victim’s ego to leave the victimization experience behind (a form
of denial). “Growth” in this usage is defensive, the demand of an anxious parent who does not know what to do for a child in pain (as in, “Grow up, stop crying, stop feeling sorry for yourself”).

A deeper objection to the demand on the victim to “grow” is that it keeps the experience of the victim within a fantasy of the child. Whatever complex meanings victimhood may have for the soul are obscured and reduced to false simplicity by forcing them into the single perspective of the child archetype. Thus the victim appears passively childlike or irresponsibly childish. This may be one reason why our culture takes a profoundly ambivalent attitude toward victims: either total neglect and abuse or idealization and galvanic convulsions to rescue. (Remember little Jessica McClure, who fell down a well in Texas in 1989? The whole country vicariously participated in the rescue operation.)

When perceived through the child archetype, the victim is infantilized: whatever injury has been done can now only be understood as a sign or consequence of psychological immaturity – the naïvety of a child, the innocence of a child, the carelessness of a child, the abuse of a child, the child who cries for grownups to play fair. Instead of an adult drama deep in the soul’s sacred interior, victimization is seen as one of many misfortunes that befalls a child. We demand either excessive responsibility of the victim (“She should have known better”) or expect him or her to be as helpless in trauma as a child.

Archetypal Psychology: Defining “Archetype” and “Archetypal”

By “archetype” I can only refer to the phenomenal archetype, that which manifests itself in images. The noumenal archetype per se cannot by definition be presented so that nothing whatsoever can be posited of it. In fact whatever one does say about the archetype per se is a conjecture already governed by an archetypal image. This means that the archetypal image precedes and determines the metaphysical hypothesis of a noumenal archetype. So, let us apply Occam’s razor to Kant’s noumenon. By stripping away this unnecessary theoretical encumbrance to Jung’s notion of archetype we restore full value to the archetypal image.’

(Hillman 1971).

The archetypal school rejects the noun “archetype,” even as it retains the adjective “archetypal.” For Hillman (1983), the distinction between archetypes and archetypal images, which Jung regards as comparable, respectively, to Kantian noumena and phenomena, is untenable. According to him, all that individuals ever encounter psychically are images – that is, phenomena. Hillman is a phenomenologist or an imagist: “I’m simply following the imagistic, the phenomenological way: take a thing for what it is and let it talk” (p. 14). For the archetypal school, there are no archetypes as such – no neo-Kantian categories, or noumena. There are only phenomena, or images, that may be archetypal.

For Hillman, the archetypal is not a category but a consideration – a perspectival operation that an individual may perform on any image. Thus Hillman (1977, pp. 82–83) says that “any image may be considered archetypal.” The archetypal is “a move one makes rather than a thing that is.” To consider an image archetypal is to regard it as such, from a certain perspective, to endow it operationally with typicality – or, as Hillman prefers to say, with “value.” Thus, perspectivally, an individual may “archetypalize” any image. Merely considering it so makes it so – or, as Hillman (1975/1979) says, merely capitalizing it makes it so – as in the “Sunburnt Girl” (p. 63). In effect, the archetypal school embraces what Jung tries (never, he admits, entirely with success) to avoid – that is, what he (CW 9.i, p. 59) calls “metaphysical concretism.” Jung says that “any attempt at graphic description” of an archetype inevitably succumbs to metaphysical concretism “up to a point,” because the qualitative aspect “in which it appears necessarily clings to it, so that it cannot be described at all except in terms of its specific phenomenology.” Concrete descriptive qualities cling quite obviously to an archetype like the Great Mother (less evidently to an archetype like the Anima, which is more abstract) – as they also do to the Sunburnt Girl. Most Jungians would be reluctant to dignify the Sunburnt Girl as equal in status to the Great Mother – or even to regard the image as “archetypal” at all. When Hillman capitalizes the Sunburnt Girl, he considers the image archetypal, typical, or valuable. He does not posit or infer the metaphysical existence of archetypes prior to the images. For archetypal psychologists, any and every image, even the most apparently banal, can be considered archetypal.

This post-Jungian, post-structuralist usage of the term “archetypal” is controversial. Most Jungians retain the term “archetype” and continue to define it as Jung did. One Jungian analyst, V. Walter Odajnyk (1984), criticizes Hillman for adopting the name “archetypal psychology.” According to Odajnyk, Hillman should simply have called the school “imaginal psychology” to avoid unnecessary terminological ambiguity. “Archetypal psychology,” Odajnyk (1984, p. 43) says, “sounds as though it were based on the Jungian archetypes, when in fact it isn’t.” This criticism is cogent to Jungians who remain strict structuralists. It is unpersuasive to archetypal psychologists, for they believe that the archetypal, or the typical, is in the eye of the imaginer – or in the imagination’s eye. In a sense, the archetypal is in the eye of the beholder – the subject who beholds an image – but it is also, in another sense, in the eye of the imagination, a transcendent dimension that archetypal psychologists regard as ultimately irreducible to any faculty immanent in the subject.

Source: Michael Vannoy Adams, ‘The Archetypal School,’ Chapter-6 in The Cambridge Companion to Jung. 2008

Archetypal Image

ARCHETYPAL psychology axiomatically assumes imagistic universals, comparable to the universali fantastici of Vico (Scienza Nuova, par. 381), that is, mythical figures that provide the poetic characteristics of human thought, feeling, and action, as well as the physiognomic intelligibility of the qualitative worlds of natural phenomena. By means of the archetypal image, natural phenomena present faces that speak to the imagining soul rather than only conceal hidden laws and probabilities and manifest their objectification.

A psychological universal must be considered psychologically. An archetypal image is psychologically “universal,” because its effect amplifies and depersonalizes. Even if the notion of image regards each image as an individualized, unique event, as “that image there and no other,” such an image is universal because it resonates with collective, trans-empirical importance. Thus, archetypal psychology uses “universal” as an adjective, declaring a substantive perduring value, which ontology states as a hypostasis. And, the universals problem for psychology is not whether they exist, where, and how they participate in particulars, but rather whether a personal individual event can be recognized as bearing essential and collective importance. Psychologically, the universals problem is presented by the soul itself whose perspective is harmoniously both the narrow particularity of felt experience and the universality of archetypally human experience. In Neoplatonic thought, soul could be spoken of as both my soul and world soul, and what was true of one was true of both. Thus, the universality of an archetypal image means also that the response to the image implies more than personal consequences, raising the soul itself beyond its egocentric confines (soul-making) and broadening the events of nature from discrete atomic particulars to aesthetic signatures bearing information for soul.

Because archetypal psychology gives priority to particular pattern over literal particle – and considers that particular events are always themselves imagistic and therefore ensouled – imagination too is assumed to be primordially patterned into typical themes, motifs, regions, genres, syndromes. These kinds of patterns inform all psychic life. Gilbert Durand (1960, 1979) – following upon the lines opened by Bachelard – and Durand’s Centre de Recherche sur l’Imaginaire ( have been charting the inherent organization of the imaginary as the basis of cultural anthropology and sociology, even as the basis of psychological meaning in all consciousness. Durand’s papers published in the Eranos Yearbooks since 1964 present a range of archetypal cultural analysis.

Archetypal psychology has pressed beyond the collection of objective data and the correlation of images as verbal or visual symbols. If archetypal images are the fundamentals of fantasy, they are the means by which the world is imagined, and therefore they are the models by which all knowledge, all experiences whatsoever become possible: “Every psychic process is an image and an ‘imagining,’ otherwise no consciousness could exist …” (CW 11: 889). An archetypal image operates like the original meaning of idea (from Greek eidos and eidolon): not only “that which” one sees but also that “by means of which” one sees. The demonstration of archetypal images is therefore as much in the act of seeing as in the object seen, since the archetypal image appears in consciousness itself as the governing fantasy by means of which consciousness is possible to begin with. Gathering of data does less to demonstrate objectively the existence of archetypes than it does to demonstrate the fantasy of “objective data.”

Furthermore, unlike Jung who radically distinguishes between noumenal archetype per se and phenomenal archetypal image, archetypal psychology rigorously refuses even to speculate about a nonpresented archetype per se. Its concern is with the phenomenon: the archetypal image. This leads to the next step: “… any image can be considered archetypal. The word ‘archetypal’ rather than pointing at something … points to something, and this is value … by archetypal psychology we mean a psychology of value. And our appellative move is aimed to restore psychology to its widest, richest, and deepest volume so that it would resonate with soul in its descriptions as unfathomable, multiple, prior, generative, and necessary. As all images can gain this archetypal sense, so all psychology can be archetypal… ‘Archetypal’ here refers to a move one makes rather than to a thing that is” (Hillman 1977b).

Here, archetypal psychology “sees through” itself as strictly a psychology of archetypes, a mere analysis of structures of being (gods in their myths), and, by emphasizing the valuative function of the adjective archetypal, restores to images their primordial place as that which gives psychic value to the world. Any image termed archetypal is immediately valued as universal, trans-historical, basically profound, generative, highly intentional, and necessary.

Since “archetypal” connotes both intentional force (Jung’s “instinct”) and the mythical field of personifications (Hillman’s “gods”), an archetypal image is animated like an animal (one of Hillman’s frequent metaphors for images) and like a person whom one loves, fears, delights in, is inhibited by, and so forth. As intentional force and person, such an image presents a claim – moral, erotic, intellectual, aesthetic – and demands a response. It is an “affecting presence” (Armstrong 1971) offering an affective relationship. It seems to bear prior knowledge (coded information) and an instinctive direction for a destiny, as if prophetic, prognostic. Images in “dreams mean well for us, back us up and urge us on, understand us more deeply than we understand ourselves, expand our sensuousness and spirit, continually make up new things to give us – and this feeling of being loved by the images … call it imaginal love” (Hillman 1979a). This message-bearing experience of the image – and the feeling of blessing that an image can bring – recalls the Neoplatonic sense of images as daimones and angels (message bearers). “Perhaps – who knows? – these eternal images are what men mean by fate” (CW 7: 183).

Although an archetypal image presents itself as impacted with meaning, this is not given simply as revelation. It must be made through “image work” and “dream work” (Hillman 1977b, 1979a). The modes of this work may be concrete and physical as in art, movement, play, and occupational therapies; but more importantly (because less fixedly symbolic), this work is done by “sticking to the image” as a psychological penetration of what is actually presented including the stance of consciousness that is attempting the hermeneutic. Image work is not legitimately such unless the implicit involvement of a subjective perspective is admitted from the start, for it too is part of the image and in its fantasy.

Image work requires both aesthetic culture and a background in myths and symbols for appreciation of the universalities of images. This work also requires a series of tactical moves (Hillman and Berry 1977), frequently linguistic and phonetic (Sardello et al. 1978; Severson 1978; Kugler 1979b) and etymological (Lockhart 1978, 1980; Kugelmann 1983), and also grammatical and syntactical experimentation (Ritsema 1976; Hillman 1978a). Other tactical moves concerning emotion, texture, repetitions, reversals, and restatements have been described by Berry (1974).

The primary intention of this verbal work with images is the “recovery of soul in speech” (Sardello 1978a), which at the same time reveals the erotic and aesthetic aspect of images – that they captivate, charm, persuade, have a rhetorical effect on soul beyond their symbolic content. Image-work restores the original poetic sense to images, freeing them from serving a narrational context, having to tell a story with its linear, sequential, and causal implications that foster first-person reports of the egocentric actions and intentions of a personalistic subject. The distinction between image and narrative (Berry 1974; Miller 1976a) is fundamental to the distinction in imaginative style between archetypal polytheistic psychology and traditional psychologies that are egocentered, epic narrations (therapy).

Three further developments in theory of archetypal images are worth attention. Paul Kugler’s work (1978, 1979a) elaborates an acoustic theory of images as structures of invariant meaning apart from linguistic, etymological, semantic, and syntactical meaning. Charles Boer and Peter Kugler (1977) have correlated archetypal images with the theory of perception of J. J. Gibson, asserting that archetypal images are afforded directly by the environment (and are not subjective), so that “archetypal psychology is mythical realism.” Casey (1979) sets forth the idea that imagination is so closely related with time, both psychologically and ontologically, that actual image-work not only takes time into soul or makes temporal events soul events but also makes time in soul.

Source: Hillman, James. Archetypal Psychology: A Brief Account (Uniform Edition). Spring Publications.