DynaPsych Table of Contents


The Sequence of Archetypes in Individuation


James Whitlark

Professor of English

Texas Tech University





Scattered throughout Jung’s writings are a few references to the sequence of archetypes associated with stages of individuation. These archetypes constitute the configurations of the unconscious at various points in human development. The American Psychologist Clare Graves spent his career charting the conscious stages of that development. Taken together, they explain each other.



The Sequence of Archetypes in Individuation



The meeting with oneself is, at first, the meeting with one’s own shadow.… Whoever looks into the water sees his own image, but behind it …[s]ometimes a nixie gets into the fisherman’s net.… The nixie is an even more instinctive version of a magical feminine being whom I call the anima.… Only when all props and crutches are broken, and no cover from the rear offers even the slightest hope of security does it become possible for us to experience an archetype that up to then had hidden behind the meaningful nonsense played out by the anima. This is the archetype of meaning, just as the anima is the archetype of life itself.

C. G. Jung., Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious, CW 9, par. 44-66


The above description of the archetypes’ sequence sprawls over twenty-two, highly metaphorical paragraphs. Although its topic (the interrelationship of archetypes and individuation) is a major theme of Jung’s psychology, his descriptions of it are tentative and labyrinthine. In the above passage, for instance, he first mentions the shadow, then doubles back to what he declares to be a more primitive pattern, the “nixie” (generally called Trickster). Next he alludes to what he deems a more complex archetype—the anima. After encountering it, an individual may progress to a still-later stage of individuation associated with what he terms “the archetype of meaning” (i.e., the Wise Old Person). In many books, he lists a final archetype: the Self (the unified psyche). Given Jung’s scattered way of presenting the sequence, his followers tend to substitute simpler versions of individuation. In The Origins and History of Consciousness, for example, Erich Neumann attempted to describe the development of consciousness in terms of one archetype, the Hero; consequently, Neumann’s description is quite different from a sequence of archetypes. The “usual” view among Jungians is that individuation has three stages (Whitmont, 266; Edinger, Ego and Archetype, 186; Alschuler, 283). In a 1942 lecture on alchemy, however, Jung described five stages of it (Jung, CW 13, 1953-1967.; Franz, 1980), and he frequently alluded to the traditional notion that spiritual progress was sevenfold (e.g., CW 12, 1953-1967). As I shall argue, this last number comes closest to what results from splicing together his brief references.


In fleshing out his skeletal allusions, I take the same course post-Jungians have usually followed: supplementing his discoveries with later research. Understandably, this has previously meant adding relatively well-known psychologies (e.g., neo-Freudian theories or brain studies). I am extending the updating of Jungian thought into less familiar territory: the psychology of Clare Graves, who paid as much attention to the conscious side of individuation as Jung did to its unconscious. A contemporary of Abraham Maslow (whose system somewhat resembles the Gravesean), Graves spent his life trying to synthesize all the competing psychological systems.


Jung had already argued that each major psychology best serves a different group of patients (CW, vol. 7, p. 140). Graves developed this recognition of diversity further, demonstrating that each major psychology presumes a different ideal as crowning human maturation. Graves first encountered these (in collaboration with colleagues) by classifying essays of students asked to define maturity (i.e., the target of development). His first batch of essays extolled one or another of three aspirations: the Virtuous Person, the Successful Professional, or the Empathetic Humanitarian. After open admissions added to his classes, he encountered a fourth goal: the Unscrupulous Winner. Later, based on further research, he raised the number of types and discovered a sequence (albeit complicated by that tendency toward temporary regression found in any psychological description of human development). Why, though, (aside from temporary regressions) do people rise to ever-more global worldviews?


Confining his investigations to consciousness, Graves simply noted that encountering existential problems too complex for a lower-numbered stage moved people to higher-numbered ones. That development is easier to explain if one notes how the unconscious (Jungian) archetype of each stage prepares the way for the next stage. This happens in the following way. To maintain the conscious worldview within any stage, an individual represses cognitive dissonance (everything in the person’s experience that does not fit the conscious orientation). Being whatever consciousness rejected, these repressions have a configuration roughly its opposite (i.e., the archetype complementary to it). Eventually, if there is much dissonance (as in major existential problems), it overwhelms the energy available to suppress it and powerful images arise, preparatory to the next stage.


To his surprise, Graves found that stages alternate in emphasizing either the instinct of ego-centrism or that of social cooperation. He did not explain why this happens. By combining his psychology with Jung’s, we reach an explanation. Since the archetype is complementary (or, as Jung would say, “compensatory”) to consciousness, the emergence of its contents changes the life style from individual-oriented to society-oriented or vice versa and increases complexity by incorporating previously repressed data. This makes psychological health not static but dynamic and dialectic. Given the accelerating pace of social change, this process has become increasingly common and, indeed, necessary.


Graves’s most extensive presentation of his system is an unfinished, book-length, untitled manuscript of which I am one of the editorial consultants, but it is not yet ready for publication. Fortunately, all its basic ideas are available in otherwise unpublished works, available at http://www.clarewgraves.com , maintained by the manuscript’s primary editors, Chris Cowan and Natasha Todorovic. Cowan has already presented his interpretation of Graves psychology as Spiral Dynamics. Based on these sources and Jung’s works, I offer the ensuing synthesis, illustrated with examples both from anthropology and popular culture.


Stage One: Survivor/Transitional-Object


Consciously, the first stage consists of surviving, the psychological base of existence. Whether or not adult humans ever had this as their highest stage, even today infants who have not yet formed a trusting bond with their caregivers are principally engaged in mere survival. Since this stage gives no opportunity to the social instinct, the latter is repressed to the unconscious, from whence it may gradually emerge in attachment to some personified object, (e.g., a favorite doll or plush animal).


Even in a lengthy regression, this Stage-One process recurs.  In the film Cast Away (2000), for instance, Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) crashes on a desert island, forcing him to spend every moment surviving. What, though, happens below the surface? His unsatisfied desire for human relationship grows more pressing. It manifests in compulsions (a stock evidence of archetypal influence). In the grip of emotions he cannot otherwise express, he takes the time to create a surrogate companion by dobbing a face on a “Wilson” ball; then he risks his life to save it from the ocean. In purely utilitarian terms, this whole activity (particularly the risk) seems foolish. It resembles what the psychologist D. W. Winnicott termed a “transitional object,” a doll or pet through which a young child practices partnering skills without having to manage the challenges real human relationships require. In modern society, some homeless or severely alienated adults regress to Stage One, often expressing the archetypal side of it by talking to themselves as to an imaginary companion, a common response to seclusion. Literary stereotypes alluding to it include the psychotic pirate with his parrot, the film-noir anti-hero who has to name his gun because he has no other friends, or the lone barbarian who talks to animals. As a primitive precursor of socialization, the stage’s unconscious aspect (fantasizing relationships) has some part in most children’s literature, underlying an array of talking animals or toys. Traces of Stage One surface in any tense situation: the heart beats faster and adrenaline floods the blood stream as if the threat were to survival itself. One way of ameliorating this stressful regression is to utilize its compensatory archetype by playing with a pet or indulging in other childlike fantasies until the individual feels reassured enough to return to higher stages.


Stage Two: Truster/Trickster


This stage arises when fantasy proves so inadequate that individuals seek real families/tribes, for which fantasies have partly prepared them by letting them practice with extensions of themselves. Stage Two requires trust, the sine qua non of tribal life, dependent on having sufficient faith in its culture to acquire a language, mythology, and other normative patterns. Graves’s phrase for this stage was “Sacrifice Self Now for the Tribe….”. (This and other tag phrases by Graves are quoted from Woodsmall and James, 1988.)


Complete credulity and self-sacrifice, however, would be as disastrous as retaining Stage One’s paranoid fears and uncooperative orientation; thus, a very common figure in tribal mythology (according to Jung) is the archetypal Trickster, whose deceit, selfishness, and tendency to violate taboos offers a release of repressed instincts as when tribal clowns act out obscene humor during rituals. S/he is the Hermes figure: thief, prankster, sexual icon, and leader of souls to the world of ghosts (which represent the inner depths). His/her self-expression and freedom from collective norms serve as a precursor of the next stage.


Conservatively trying to avoid leaving Stage Two, tribes, however, employ taboos to preserve the status quo:

…when the young men return from the warpath they are not feted as heroes, nor are they allowed to strut about the village displaying their bloodstained weapons. Instead, they are disarmed, segregated in huts outside the village, given purgatives or sweat baths, and fed on bread and water until the spirit of war has left them and they are themselves again (Harding, 1948).

Only when such traditional safeguards break down (e.g., in the situation depicted by the film Shaka Zulu, 1986) does the society move to the next stage. For thousands of years, tribes were so well adapted to their environments, they had little need to evolve. Their worldviews and reality differed, but not so overwhelmingly as for repressed cognitive dissonance to drive them to higher-numbered stages, except after ages of drift or when encountering representatives of those higher-numbered stages.


Even today, a long period of emersion in the family (as in a holiday weekend) may mean a potentially stifling regression to Stage Two. Fortunately, humor (the realm of the Trickster) can arise to maintain a healthy sense of balance. Otherwise, exiting the problematic Eden of Stage Two, may be a Fall, marred by anger and resentment.



Stage Three: Unscrupulous Competitor/Hero


While developing from infancy to early childhood, individuals usually evolve from trustingly basking in the family or tribe (Stage Two) to competing with one another for attention and with their parents for authority (Stage Three). In societies, Stage Three arrives when internal or external problems cause what was a tribe to learn the military techniques to conquer its neighbors and the political ones to turn its temporary war chief into a permanent monarch (with a pecking order of lesser winners beneath him or her). Hyperbolically, Graves phrased Stage Three: “Express self now, the hell with others.” Since healthy maturation constantly adds skills, Stage Three should retain caring for kin (learned at Stage Two), but this places no restraint on exploitation of strangers; and if the entrant into Stage Three comes from a dysfunctional family or tribe, even kinship ties may be ineffective.


Neither case provides much foundation for societal order. Being an unscrupulous winner requires repression of kinder feelings, which coalesce into this stage’s “archetype,” the self-sacrificing Hero, who intuits that honor (the chief goal at Stage Three) comes from good deeds rather than through brutal intimidation. In Greece, the Heroes received divine honors after their deaths because of the assumption that they would continue to help the living. To the extent that the gods, goddesses, muses, and so on exchanged aid for honor, they served as greater heroes, though, in Greek myths, many deities merely personified aspects of conscious level-three, the Unscrupulous Competitor.


Such clearly self-sacrificing deities as Dionysus, who dies for his followers, seem to have arrived late in Greek mythology, as if the unconscious aspect of Stage-Three, the Hero, had taken a long time to enter consciousness even enough to shape myths. Once this archetype surfaced, heroic stories offered roles to which people could aspire deliberately, lured to do so by cravings for respect, but actual heroism requires the unconscious to override self-preservation.


Despite its Greek name, the details of Freud’s “Oedipal complex” described Viennese children frightened from Stage Three to simulations of four by adults really at five. The offspring thus sensed that their parents were incongruent with—indeed, hypocritical about—imposing Stage-Four rules. This incongruity impeded the children’s complete acceptance of Stage Four and eventually created a market for Freudian psychiatry.  If, however, they never matured beyond Stage Three, they would deeply crave Power, yet would have very limited means of acquiring it; therefore, they would be suited for Adlerian therapy.


Stage Four: the Virtuous/the Shadow


Routinizing and rationalizing the self-sacrifice (performed by the Hero spontaneously), this stage lives by moral or patriotic rules. Very young children simply trust that what they are told is right (Stage Two) and slightly older ones think that they only have to obey people who are bigger, stronger, and less sensitive than they are (the conscious side of Stage Three). According to Piaget, between five and seven, children develop elementary desire to play with logical organization and from twelve on they may amplify this into mature skills with abstractions. Opportunities to develop organizational skills nonetheless depend on one’s culture. Tribes (Stage Two) have no openings for accountants (Stage Four). Eventually, however, a large kingdom needs a bureaucracy of educated clerks (at Stage Four) to administer and promulgate the rules.


At this stage, people presume rules flow from God’s Will (or from the Nature of Things or from the Little Red Book or some other version of Absolute Order). They express the only Truth—a cosmic neatness contemplated with the same pleasure as putting in its place every stamp or baseball card in a collection. At Stage Four, actions are either correct or incorrect (not somewhere in between). Unlike Stage Three’s “shame culture” (where malefactors only fear loss of “face” or honor), Stage Four brings a “guilt culture” (where remorse comes from violating Order). Stressing the patience required for such virtuousness, Graves phrased Stage Four “Sacrifice Self Now for Salvation (or Attainment) Later”—a painful procedure.


Trying to live those rules consequently breeds an “archetypal” Shadow, a collection of all the impulses and exceptions contrary to the society’s dominant systematization of Truth. Like the other archetypes, it gradually absorbs much-needed energy. Thus despite virtuously trying to contain the monstrous green Shadow that takes possession of his body, Bruce Banner (the Hulk), in comic books, cartoons, and live action films, periodically succumbs to it, thereby receiving healing and empowerment. Comparably, The Mask (1994) and The Shadow (1994) fantasize the Shadow as a source of abilities that the good can utilize in their struggle with evil. Another, theme that arises late in Stage Four is the felix culpa or fortunate fall, whereby the reformed sinners’ transgressions render them more knowledgeable and stronger than before becoming aware of the Shadow.


Since Stage Four still constitutes the highest level much of the population reaches, movies frequently adopt its conscious perspective—that the Shadow is evil. The Shadow, thus, is often presented as a devilish tempter, sometimes explicitly a sub-personality within the protagonist, as in Fight Club (1999). Surreptitiously in viewing such movies, a Stage-Four audience partly identifies with that Shadow, thereby venting repressed longings (while pretending to condemn them).


Stage Five: Materialistic Analyst of Things/Anim(a/us)


This stage recognizes that there are so many exceptions to the rules of Stage Four that some principles must be demoted to superstitions, while science yields new ones, fostering technology and a vast economic infrastructure. Before Stage-Five can dominate a society, four must have produced sufficient peace and order for commerce so that money and other material rewards start to be the measure of everything. Examples of its analysis include the industrial division of labor and the scientific method itself. This stage expands mental horizons, but social affections become obscured in the vast bookkeeping of physical details.


Since both Stages Three and Five are egocentric, they have much in common, but are not identical. In the movie Wall Street (1987), the greed of Stage-Five Gordon Gekko functions in a more abstract world than did the anger of Stage-Three Conan the Barbarian. Gekko may have begun in a Stage-Three (Oedipal) struggle with his father, but he continues for the Stage-Five pleasure of increasing his bank account and playing with corporate structures. Unlike competing (which is always directed against rivals), materialistic analysis fights against out-warn practices, traditions, or rules, and for professional advancement as much as for bank account. Graves termed Stage Five, “Express Self Now, but Calculatedly for Material Rewards Now.” By “Now” he meant sooner than in heaven. The increasing complexity of each stage, however, means that materialistic analysis tends to payoff later than the earlier, odd-numbered levels. Even more rigorously than the preceding stages, five requires extreme subordination of all instinctive drives to its imperative.


Consequently, if conscious professionalism constituted all that this stage offered, it would produce a society of workaholics. Fortunately, its unconscious complement is the “archetype of life itself.” Releasing the massive quantum of energy used to repress it, this archetype manifests in anything that revitalizes a Stage-Five consciousness, such as nature poetry read by the philosopher John Stuart Mill to restore his sanity after a totally scientific education enervated him. For the Victorian version of Stage Five, a stock contrast distinguished between “head” (the scientific, practical conscious mind) and “heart” (the unconscious perceived via the emotions that surfaced from it). This “heart” connoted such “feminine” attitudes as compassion and love; even more (to heterosexual, male Victorians) it meant their “heart’s desire,” the inspiring woman who could be the “angel in the house.”


Note that Jung’s core understanding of this pattern (“the archetype of life itself”) has no intrinsic connection with gender. He recognized, though, that men often experience it as a feminine image (which Jung called an Anima) and that women often experience it as a male image (which he called an Animus). According to his previously quoted remark, the “Nixie” is “an even more instinctive version” of the Anima, i.e., a female Trickster, rather than the Anima per se, which, he states, arises only after confrontation with the (Stage-Four) Shadow.


Stage Six: Empathizer with Every Person/Wise One


This stage translates the previous appreciation of life into an ecological empathy with every being. People dissatisfied with Stage Five’s mere accumulation instead cultivate empathy, generating social structures ranging from liberal government to secular charities (e.g., save-the-whale). At Stage Six, a sympathetic effort to befriend each entity on his, her, or its own terms replaces dogma. Stage Six’s insistence on “political correctness” (i.e., politely presupposing universal equality) condemns any effort to classify people—such as Graves’s system itself (a product of Stage Seven).


Stage-Six’s conscious attitude appreciates every person and perspective so much that all values become relative. Exemplified by many-minded Hamlet’s dependence on the Ghost to guide decisions, Stage Six needs desperately its unconscious complement, the Archetype of Meaning, a voice of wisdom from the depths. In the (Stage-Six) Star Trek series, for instance, the right decision more often comes from Kirk’s or Picard’s intuitions than from such embodiments of reason as Spock or Data, who, nonetheless, embody the Stage-Six conscious imperative to include the other (e.g., Spock as alien or Data as android).


Stage Seven: Distancer /Self


Each stage progresses from a limited understanding to a panorama that arises as repressions surface. (Ironically, each final panorama tends to reveal the liabilities of that stage, propelling one into a higher one.) The stages themselves become evermore inclusive through Stage Seven, which tries to comprehend life in all its paradoxes, not just the occasional intuitions that satisfied Stage Six. Some institutions (e.g. the ashrams of India, monasteries of ancient China, and think tanks of the U.S.) permit people to distance themselves from the preoccupations of the lower-numbered stages for the pleasures of ruminating upon vast configurations. For many people, a final state (often in old age) is to retire from the present squabble and look at the larger picture—how all the turmoil fits together. If they have reached Stage Seven, this is not a single materialistic analysis (Stage Five) but a synthesis of many processes combined with the empathy mastered at Stage Six and everything else that has been learned along the way.


The conscious mind, however, flounders in such complexity. Chaology, for instance, supplements human brains with computers yet even so finds much of the world disconcertingly unpredictable. By its very name, the best-known Stage-Seven philosophy, Jacques Derrida’s “Deconstruction” attempted both to destroy and reconstruct, but, according to him, the interrelationship of everything to everything else defers judgment indefinitely. (As deconstruction has been watered down by many of Derrida’s imitators, it has become a Stage-Six way of saying everyone is equally right because all issues are indeterminable. Derrida’s own strategies, however, are to show how the interrelationship of everything to everything else defies conscious analysis).


As has often been remarked (see, for instance, Magliola, 1984), Derrida’s  version of Stage Seven was anticipated by Madhyamika Buddhism, designed to show reason incapable of comprehending a world so interconnected that analysis arbitrarily chops to pieces the significant Gestalt. An effect of Madhyamika, however, is to divert the mind from conscious logic to what Jung called the “Self,” the goal of union between conscious and unconscious—according to Jung, a life-long process. Unless people have hurried from stage to stage so quickly that they have not thoroughly developed each one, they have at the end of each some coalescence of conscious and unconscious, but the Self is the largest version of this integration. Previously, the split between the unconscious and conscious helped the latter to mature, but has at this point become a handicap (ameliorated by a very intense yet healthy pursuit of the Self). Jung, of course, frequently warned against unhealthy conjunctions of the two (e.g. the unconscious swallowing consciousness or consciousness imbibing too many unconscious contents). 


Both because few people reach Stage Seven and because it is inherently reclusive (i.e., un-dramatic), it hardly ever appears in film except somewhat obliquely as in The Matrix (1999). There the characters are mechanically sedated, confronting the paradoxes of cybernetic dreams. Halfway through the film, the protagonist wakes to consciousness and uses martial arts to pass some threshold of Self-integration so that he can bend the matrix to his will. In real life what might this threshold be? Is it the state attained by acknowledged masters of Yoga, who have remarkable control over their bodies? Or must one turn to legends of enlightened beings such as the Buddha?


As the most advanced mental structure, the Self resists ordinary articulation so completely that, according to Jung, it is the primary object of mysticism. Indeed, an experience of the Self also constitutes one of Reality, because the two reflect each other, providing (again, according to Jung) para-psychological knowledge of and influence over Reality. Jung considers the Self as a repository of all archetypes, which is, among other things, a way of saying that someone advanced in Stage Seven has experienced all the preceding ones, and, as part of a final dialectic between conscious and unconscious, is likely to refine mastery over the preceding ones.


Graves had little experience with individuals at Stage Seven. Nevertheless, from a small sample he provided a vague description (focusing as much on what it does not do as on what it does): “Express Self Now, but not at the expense of Others or the World, so that Life May Continue.”


Are there higher stages?


Although Graves never had clinical evidence for any stage above seven, he speculated that there might be an infinite number of higher stages and he guessed that the eighth would be the “global village” predicted by McLuhan.  This is simply to say that Graves’s system—where odd-numbered stages are self-expressive and even-numbered ones social—suggests that stage eight might itself form a community (if it ever came into existence). As far as Graves’s clinical evidence extended, however, it agreed with Jung’s: seven stages in the human condition up to their time.


Looking at the archetypes developmentally requires greater precision than is sometimes exercised, particularly in popular treatment of Jungian theory. Whereas Jung himself properly distinguishes between the nixie and the anima, casual usage has lumped together all fantasies of the feminine as anima imagery. What I am arguing is that each numinous image belongs to a particular level of complexity, so that it arises in one of three ways: (1) it may represent the present configuration of the unconscious (i.e., the highest stage of complexity yet reached by that person); (2) it may represent a previously experienced archetype (stored in memory) to which the person is regressing temporarily; (3) it may be intuited via some source more developed than the person (as when young children react to a horror film embodying the Shadow of the movie’s makers). I am thus agreeing with historians of ideas who caution against projecting present values on earlier ones. The ancient Greek concept kalón, for instance, can be roughly translated as “beautiful,” yet what it actually meant to the Greeks is probably better exemplified by lines 880-884 in Euripides’s Bacchae, where what is fairest on earth is holding the “bowed head of the vanquished foe” (Eco, 2004). In other words (like the similar remark by Attila the Hun), the “kalón” mentioned in Euripides’s lines belongs to the third stage (Competitor/Hero), rather than being a vision of the anima (Stage Five), which a modern reader might associate with the English word “beauty.” Since subjects’ archetypal experiences may be regressions, or expressions of their present highest state of development, or vague intuitions of still higher states, Jung, quite understandably, never managed to articulate fully the archetypes’ sequence.


How does this Graves/Jung sequence compare to other developmental systems?


Being based on different criteria, each developmental system devised by psychologists over the years is really describing a different aspect of development, so that one should not expect somewhat comparable categories to be identical in any two systems. If, for instance, we establish one series of parameters for judging certain mathematical skills and another for judging social ones, an idiot savant might fit an advanced position in one and an elementary in the other. Despite this caveat, we have a right to expect that different systems will have some intersection and mutual confirmation (as I have already tried to establish between Graves’s and Jung’s). Although detailed examination of all previous systems would exceed the space limitations of a single article, the following consists of a brief sample of what might be said about a few of them: Eric Erickson’s, Abraham Maslow’s, and Jean Gebser’s.


The Graves/Jung sequence has following commonalities with Erickson’s (with E standing for Erickson and G for Graves: E Trust/G stage 2; E Autonomy/G stage 3; E Initiative/G stage 4. These categories collate closely in that Erickson’s “Autonomy” centers on issues of honor and shame as does stage 3 while “Initiative” involves issues of guilt and purpose as does stage 4. Beyond this point, however, Erickson’s eight stages of Personality Development embody problems which all human beings face (e.g., “Intimacy”) regardless of their Graves/Jung stage.


Maslow’s Hierarchy of Basic needs is precisely that rather than a sequence of worldviews as with Graves/Jung, yet there is some agreement. Maslow’s Physiological Needs and Safety Needs together approximate Graves’s stage one. Understandably, Maslow distinguishes between having a lion at one’s throat (Physiological Need) and hearing one in the bush (Safety Need) but Graves lumps the two together because early man could not have survived without dealing with both. Maslow’s subsequent category (love and belongingness) approximates Graves’s stage two. Next Maslow lists Esteem, the focus of Graves’s stage three. Finally, Maslow has only one category left: Self-Actualization. Since Maslow mentions Truth and Goodness as goals of this Need, it has some common ground with stage 4, but the very title “Self-Actualization” better fits the self-expressiveness of stage five or the attempt to help others self-actualize at stage 6. In other words, since Erickson and Maslow wished to write a normative pattern for all human beings, they assumed that people should rise above what Graves’s considered stage three (since normal Americans did so at their time), whereas Graves and Jung were not lumping everything above stage three together, but focusing on differences.


Gebser’s The Ever-Present Origin (Ursprung und Gegenwart) differs from Erickson’s and Maslow’s in that it is more complex and interdisciplinary, amassing as it does a vast body of evidence relevant to developing consciousness. It begins very soundly with the distinction between drawing with perspective, drawing without that knowledge, and knowing but choosing not to employ perspective. The period when art was customarily perspectival (the Renaissance through much of the nineteenth century) was dominated by the rise of stage five. Indeed, the scientific/technological attitude involved in discovering and using perspective accorded with stage five and coincided with the rise of the visual arts from a selfless craft to a self-expressive profession typical of stage five. Interestingly, classical Greece and Rome, which toyed with other science and technology (e.g., the steam engine), also experimented with perspective to the extent that some artists made foreground objects larger than background ones, but never achieved Renaissance-like mastery of perspective (or the scientific method or full-scale capitalism). The nascent stage five of the classical world brought nascent perspective and capitalism. Gebser’s “perspectival” category, thus, correlates very closely with the Graves/Jung stage five.


His elaboration of his basic categorization, however, is more problematic: Archaic (Zero-Dimensional); Magic (One-Dimensional); Mythical (Two-Dimensional); Mental (Three-Dimensional); Integral (Four-Dimensional). The distinction between two- and three-dimensional art is almost literal and some modern art (particularly much cubism) is, with almost equal literalness, four dimensional. There is, though, no significant school of one-dimensional art, so Gebser substitutes images without a mouth. He plausibly argues that not having or having a mouth may have meant a distinction between aural and oral culture—a distinction that I suspect may, at least sometimes, be between the relatively passive tribal culture of stage two and the assertive hierarchical culture of stage three. Consequently, I would reclassify his examples of each stage thus: Archaic (stage one); Magic (stage two); Mythological (stage three); Mental (stage five); Integral (stages six and seven). For example, his featured illustration of the Mythological is figure 19, “The Prince with the Crown of Feathers.” He perceptively notes that the prince is shown rising above nature. To me, the illustration well illuminates an early phase of stage three. The very term “Prince” implies hierarchy (a characteristic of stage three) and the rise above nature is another distinction of stage three from the nature-identifying, tribal, stage two. Oddly, despite its inherent hierarchy and rise above nature, the mythological is described by Gebser as “egoless,” whereas Graves/Jung would emphasize its being a significant step forward in egoism. Where he seems even less satisfactory is in his practically ignoring medieval scholasticism (stage four). Perhaps because it is an abstract structuring of mythology, he thinks it can be lumped within his “Mythological” category, but I think the distinction is useful. Feudalism kept much of the Middle Ages at stage three (obsessed with hierarchy and honor), but the church attempted (not always successfully) to foster a communal devotion to such abstractions as Truth and Goodness (stage four).


In looking at the relationship of Graves/Jung to the developmental theories of Erickson, Maslow, and Gebser, I see enough common ground to reassure me. There are, nonetheless, enough difference to argue that Graves/Jung is not a mere rehashing of other psychologies but a system with its own contribution to the understanding of human development.





·        Gebser, Jean. Ithe Ever Present Origin. Translated by Noel Barstad and Algis Mickunas. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 1984.