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Instinct and Caroline Myss

Your default linear mind receives Consciousness from the outside world through an imprinted instinctive perceptual lens that is always scared.

What does that mean? Imagine with me. . . tired of your work environment and lack of advancement, you browse the web. Spotting an ad for your dream job your heart races with excitement of possibly getting it. The timing is perfect. It feels so right that you think fate may be beckoning you and the universe is with you. You can feel it. This job is yours. Jumping to update your resumé, you want to apply as quickly as possible. Right now.

After a long process of application, interviews and anxiety, they decide to go with another candidate.

You are a human being with hopes, wishes, dreams, and an instinct lens through which you must interact with the outside world. Everything that happens outside of you is prone to perceptive interpretation and it always filters through instinct first. That is a problem.

In her work with Archetypes, Caroline Myss points out that consciousness flows in a pattern beginning with a triggered archetypal event in the objective world, which she calls the literal world. It could also be called the physical or mundane world. Something occurs, and it could be anything, perhaps triggering a victim response. There are lots of other archetypes that can be triggered. The victim archetype causes instinct to view this event as happening to the perceiver who believes, ‘this should not be true’.

According to Myss, consciousness then moves to the internal where the perception is processed into a sense of self. I imagine this is like conscious awareness climbing a set of stairs from the triggered event to the symbolic realm. Myss says that hopefully, the perceiver will develop compassion and empathy for others who are victims and this increases one’s sense of self-esteem. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t.

I don’t agree that the process is always about self-esteem. I do agree that the process involves a choice to move consciousness into the symbolic/spiritual realm. What makes it manageable for people to process an event into the symbolic?

In my view, that internal process has to work with your instinct pattern lens. It is your instinct pattern of perception that sees yourself as a victim in the above scenario. There you are minding your own business and some event occurs that puts a tall staircase in front of you that you have to either climb, or go around. Going around means missing out on the prize waiting for you at the top.

Even if the victim perception is brief, most people still have to go through the process of dealing with their instinct lens first. You have to go up a few of the steps to bring the experience inside. The instinct lens sees the archetype (the archetype is created by instinct’s incessant fear based perceptions). The experience begins and consciousness moves inside. Earth types might feel like a victim because something unexpected happened. ‘The job felt like fate. How did they go another way?’ Water types would perceive it as a rejection and statement of their personal worth, and likely expected this outcome. Air would see it as a problem with themselves or their presentation that needs to be fixed, and fire would see it as a betrayal, thinking–’those people will be sorry they missed out, or that job wasn’t good enough for me.’

If the perceiver chooses to do so, they move the archetypal energy into the symbolic plane, which can also be called spiritual, or belief system, climbing more steps toward evolving consciousness. On this plane, consciousness sorts the event into a meaningful belief. For example, ‘this happened for a reason. What is the reason? Am I learning something? Did this prevent a bigger problem further down the line? Is this a message of some kind’, and so on.

I agree with Myss on her interpretation of how consciousness flows from an archetypal event. However, she doesn’t address the internal process , except to say that it is always about self esteem. I would clarify that the process is always about self-development, with the caveat that each patterned type has a unique way of doing so.

The Archedomi™ model shows that the initial perception is viewed through the instinct lens, which is fear-based. This is why the archetypal interpretation is initially negative (victim not getting what they want/deserve). The water and fire types will have to process the mundane event into a sense of self-value. Water interprets it as low self-value, while fire sees exaggerated self-value. Earth is triggered by its expectations not being met and a sense of chaos produced. Air assumes a problem with self, but from an intellectual perspective rather than an emotional one like water–’something needs to be fixed’. It is not about self-value.

One’s ability to take the stairs, moving conscious awareness beyond the internal instinct process toward the symbolic, is a matter of choosing to adopt the pattern’s awareness focus, which is indicated within the Archedomi model.

I also think that there is a functional piece to the symbolic level that is one of intuition and relating to the non-visible planes, or whole consciousness. That function provides guidance that overrides instinct’s influence to a large degree and can only be obtained through well practiced intuition.

In terms of the physical world, patterns of instinct perception help us survive because they keep us alert to threats. Instinct patterns do not function through the symbolic or spiritual planes. This means that instinct favors the status quo over change. Evolution cannot occur within the boundaries of instinct. Suffering occurs instead.

Knowing self, developing a sense of self beyond the physical plane, allows us to understand what we are here to give to the world. Myss and I agree that the purpose of our existence is to give something. Being willing to give requires a relationship with the divine, or whole consciousness. Instinct is always in take mode, or ‘what about me’ mode.

Whole consciousness is communicating and relating to what some call spirit, higher self, etc., so that following inner guidance is easy and can be trusted. Knowing self well allows for understanding what perceptions are instinct projections (fear based) and what are whole consciousness interpretations (guidance). It is often a fine line between the two. Projections of instinct will lead you astray into suffering while intuitive guidance will lead you to success, joy and personal evolution. Not that personal evolution is always joyful in process, but it is in results.

The Archedomi model has two axes of opposites processing four patterns of perception. One axis is about self and the other is about knowledge. Each type of person predominantly processes one of these patterns. The goal is to learn all of them and unify them at the center where self and knowledge meet.

At this point I want to introduce another attribute of the victim archetype that promotes an internal process of recognition. When you run into the victim archetype, it is because someone else has power over what you desire. If you have no power, then you may move consciousness to the symbolic as a coping mechanism. However, it is possible that you are not seeing where your power comes from on the mundane level. For example, a teenager might feel trapped and powerless because they can’t drive and have no access to public transit. They cannot experience complete personal freedom, which they desire. They are a victim of their circumstances. However, they may not realize that they have the power to walk to a transit point, or they can ask for a ride. They may not know that they can ride a bike to a bus stop and put their bike on the front of the bus. They might see limitations rather than opportunities. The victim archetype can show us new ways of seeing power and opportunity within the mundane. If you can’t see other avenues to get what you want, then moving to the symbolic is a way of managing. If you don’t move to the symbolic and you still feel like a victim, then you suffer with chronic anger, resentment, and possibly depression.

Within the realm of whole consciousness, you would experience gratitude, acceptance, love, and compassion for others, and yourself, regardless of circumstances. To know yourself well is to move your awareness to the divine level of whole consciousness where you have a strong relationship with the God that is you, and you have the capacity to understand all the attributes that each archetypal interaction can bring.

To learn more about how your conscious function works for you, visit


Carloline Myss: The Victim. Available from


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