Parapsychology Journalism: The People, The Theory, The Science, The Skeptics
Archetypes at their best are road maps for people to live by. They tell us what our strengths and weaknesses are, help us form our identities and through stories, give us examples of how to improve our strengths while minimizing our weaknesses. But what happens to those people for whom no archetype exists? What happens when society provides no road map of who to be and no existing identity fits? The answer is that you get some confused and depressed people who are in conflict with who they really are.
This was certainly a problem for me growing up and I knew it at the time. The INFJ/Schizotypal straight male is the rarest personality type of them all at roughly .003 percent of the population according to the Myer Briggs Type Index (MBTI). To say that I feel misunderstood is an understatement. Among the INFJ community, this is something of a joke:
As a kid, I struggled to find adults that I could look up to. The main problem was that my highly intuitive nature did not allow me to overlook the parts of their personalities that were not up to my standards. That is to say, these adults had to be open emotionally and be able to see me as a person. They couldn’t have blank spots in their character where fear had settled in. They had to be awake and aware of their own life because that’s how I was. In all the years that I was growing up, I never found anyone who both met the criteria and were around in my life long enough to make a difference. There were a few people, here and there, but our paths quickly diverged.
It isn’t just in my personal life where this problem occurred; TV and film also provided no role models and archetypes that were suitable for me. There were tough guys, and sensitive guys, but the tough guys buried their feelings and the sensitive guys were portrayed as weak and effeminate. So if you were a guy like me and you wanted an archetype, you had a choice of this:
A man openly expressing his feelings has always been seen as a weakness associated with weak character and a man suppressing his feelings has been seen as associated with strong character. Now, naturally no one wants to have weak character, so the road map here is to suppress your feelings so that you will have strong character. Because these are archetypes, they are not only personal road maps but social ones as well. They teach society to view males in this fashion, making it harder for any individual to break out of that mold.
If you are going to live your life outside of these archetypes, then you are going it alone and you will not be particularly well accepted within society because you don’t fit in to one of the prescribed roles. The thing that tripped up me and trips up people like me, is that in order to be healthy, we have to both be strong and expressive in our feelings. I have personally struggled with this, because, like the rest of my culture, I don’t know what this is supposed to look like. There are no real role models for this. The idea of a man getting highly emotional, then working through those emotions to come to a resolution? Well, that’s just weird. There are plenty of men who are portrayed as highly spiritual, which is an aspect of my personality type, but their journey to this place is rarely told. I can think of only one show that did anything like this. Kung Fu, with David Carradine:
It’s close. The character is on a spiritual journey, but here again, toughness is associated with repressed emotion. And I can’t do that. My emotions are my strength and to suppress them is to deny myself the power that I need for my own happiness and personal satisfaction. I am not tougher by suppressing my emotions, but rather just the opposite. I can’t stress this enough: there is no socially ready made path for this. There are no archetypes that fit this properly and no role models to mimic. Anyone going down this path is going it alone.
What this has done to me over the years is left me conflicted. No surprise there. I have a constant clash between who I really am and who I think I am supposed to be. I do not pretend to be enlightened beyond the limits of my own culture. That is a kind of mythology that can be traced in a straight line from the beatniks of the sixties to the hipsters of today. Not being part of the mainstream implies that the mainstream is your focus point. There really is no escape from our culture.
I want to identify with the hero, like everyone else, but the hero is so different from me that this is quite a challenge. Both my strengths and weaknesses are different. I’m a loner, but I’m not Wolverine because I’m not angry and repressed. I’m spiritual, but I’m not like Caine from Kung Fu because I’m not quiet and still inside; I’m not like any other conventional types as well. So the question is, who am I if I’m not like anyone else I’ve seen? I confess, I’m at a bit of a loss to fit into my own culture. Even people with the Asperger personality have a famous role model in Sherlock Holmes and couple of movies that featured them as main characters. Ben X and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. But a schizotypal personality? No one even knows what that is. The closest was probably Mozart in Amadeus and Beethoven in any number of films about him. None of these films really explored the complicated personalities of these men and how that related to their music. They were for the most part . . . . . . . . (wait for it) . . . . . . . misunderstood. They were both misanthropes lost in their creative masterpieces headed down a path of self destruction. Not exactly role model material.
I don’t have any answers here, but I think that asking the question is useful? Where are the role models and archetypes for people who are really and truly different?