The Four Archetypes of the Mature Masculine: Introduction

by Brett on July 31, 2011 · 56 comments

in A Man's Life, On Manhood

The purpose of the Art of Manliness is to help men become better men. To that end, we often explore some of the problems unique to modern men and offer suggestions on actions they can take to overcome those problems. One problem that we discuss regularly on the site is that of the modern male malaise. Maybe you’ve experienced it: You feel restless and without a sense of purpose. You lack confidence in yourself as a man. You might be 20 or 30 or 40 years old, but you don’t feel like you’ve reached manhood.

A few weeks ago, we did a series called “The Five Switches of Manliness.” In it we made the case that within every man are psychological “switches” that must be turned on if a man wishes to activate his unique primordial masculine energy. The switches are how you power up the Wild Man within you and overcome the feelings of shiftlessness and male malaise that many men experience these days.

Another way of approaching the cure for the modern male malaise comes from the book King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine, by Jungian psychologist Robert Moore and mythologist Douglas Gillette. Moore argues that masculinity is made up of four archetypal male energies which serve different purposes. All men, whether born in the U.S. or Africa, are born with these archetypal energies. The authors argue that to become a complete man, a man must work to develop all four archetypes. The result of striving to become complete is a feeling of manly confidence and purpose.

King, Warrior, Magician, Lover was originally published in 1990, and it has had a pretty big influence on masculinity in America. It, along with Robert Bly’s book, Iron John: A Book About Men, kick-started the mythopoetic men’s movement of the early 1990s. During this time, many men in America started attending men’s groups and weekend retreats where they would take part in rites of passage and discuss ancient myths to gain personal insights about what it means to be a man. You can still see the influence of King, Warrior, Magician, Lover in books like Wild at Heart or weekend men’s retreats like The ManKind Project.

Some of the ideas in KWML are of the New-Agey, sensitive pony-tail guy, sitting in drum circles in the woods type. Personally, that sort of approach doen’t appeal to me as a man. I know lots of men that get a lot out of that sort of thing. To each their own. Nonetheless, I still feel like I benefited a great deal from reading the book and putting into practice some of Moore and Gillette’s ideas.

Over the next few months, we’re going to be delving into the four masculine archetypes in KWML. We’ll explore what they are and how you can access them on your journey to becoming a better man.

A Short Primer on Jungian Psychology

Psychologist Carl Jung

Like much of the literature in the mythopoetic men’s movement, KWML is grounded in the psychology of Carl Jung, particularly in his idea of psychological archetypes. To understand the four archetypes of masculinity, it’s helpful to understand a bit about Jungian psychology. I could devote an entire post to Jung’s psychology, but I’ll keep this brief for our purposes.

Carl Jung was one of the early and most influential modern psychologists. Ever take one of those Myers-Briggs type indicator tests? Those were inspired by Jung’s idea of extroverted and introverted personalities. Have you ever heard somebody talk about the “collective unconscious?” That’s Jung, too.

From 1907 to 1913, Jung closely worked with and studied under the the Father of Modern Psychology, Sigmund Freud. While the two shared many of the same ideas about the human mind, they had their differences. Jung agreed with Freud’s theory of the unconscious mind, but he thought Freud’s view was too negative and incomplete. Freud focused on the unconscious as the place in which people harbored and repressed negative emotions and deviant thoughts. Jung agreed that negative emotions were repressed in the unconscious, but he also felt that positive experiences, thoughts, and emotions could be held in the unconscious, too.

Jung also diverged from Freud’s theory of the unconscious by arguing that there was a second, even deeper unconscious mind existing in all human beings. Jung called the first level of unconscious (the one Freud also affirmed)  the “personal unconscious.”  The personal unconscious was created by personal experience.

The second level of the unconscious mind Jung called the “collective unconscious.” According to Jung, the collective unconscious consists of instinctual and universal thought patterns that humans developed over thousands of years of evolution. Jung called these primordial behavior blueprints “archetypes.” For Jung, archetypes form the foundation of all personal experience. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a sophisticated businessman living in a high-rise apartment in Manhattan or a bushman living in a hut in Africa; Jung would argue that no matter who you are, you have the same archetypal behaviors embedded within you.

Jung believed that these archetypes of human behavior came to the surface in the conscious mind through symbols, rituals, and myths. He argued these archetypical patterns explain why we see similar motifs and symbols in rituals and mythical stories across cultures. For example, the dying/resurrecting God figure can be found in the stories and myths of ancient Greeks, ancient Sumerians, Christians, and Native Americans.

Jung’s belief that the collective unconscious is reflected though symbols and ritual also likely explains his fascination with the mystical and esoteric. He was a serious student of fields like alchemy, astrology, dream interpretation, and tarot,  although not for their claimed ability to tell the future or to turn lead into gold. Rather, he explored these esoteric traditions because he believed they could help individuals tap into the collective unconscious and explore the archetypal behaviors that resided within.

Alright, so what are the archetypes that Jung believed existed in each person? While Jung suggested a number of universal archetypes, the four main ones are: the Self, the Shadow, the Animus and Anima, and the Persona. For the purpose of this article, I’m not going to go into detail on all four of these. If it’s something you’re interested in, I’d encourage you to investigate these archetypes on your own.

Before we move on, let’s be clear about something. Archetypes aren’t personality types. Jung didn’t think you could classify a person as a specific archetype. A man can’t take a test to tell him that he’s a “Shadow.” Rather, the archetypes are simply patterns of behavior and thought, or “energies” that can be found in all people in varying degrees.

The Four Archetypes of the Mature Masculine: King, Warrior, Magician, Lover

Psychologist Robert Moore took the concept of Jung’s archetypes and used it to create a framework that explained the development of mature and integral masculinity in men. Moore argued that the problems we see with men today–violence, shiftlessness, aloofness–are a result of modern men not adequately exploring or being in touch with the primal, masculine archetypes that reside within them. Like Jung, Moore believed that men and women possess both feminine and masculine archetypal patterns–this is the anima (feminine) and animus (masculine).

The problem with modern men is that Western society suppresses the animus or masculine archetype within them and instead encourages men to get in touch with their “softer side” or their anima. Moore would argue that there’s nothing wrong with men developing those softer, more nurturing and feminine behaviors. In fact, he would encourage it. A problem only arises when the development of the feminine comes at the expense of the masculine.

According to Moore, masculine psychology is made up of four major archetypes: King, Warrior, Magician, and Lover. In order for a man to achieve mature masculine strength and energy, he must be in touch with all four.

The Structure of the Archetypes

Moore argues that each male archetype consists of three parts: the full and highest expression of the archetype and two bi-polar dysfunctional shadows of the archetype. To better understand this, Moore portrays each archetype as a triangle. Here’s an example of the King archetype thusly illustrated:

The King Archetype

The bottom corners of the triangle represent the bi-polar shadow-split in the archetypal Self. The goal of each man, according to Moore, is to reconcile and integrate these two bi-polar shadows in order to attain the fullest expression of the archetype as represented at the top of the triangle.

Moreover, each archetype has a mature and immature form. Moore calls the mature forms of the masculine archetypes “Man Psychology” and the immature forms “Boy Psychology.” The mature masculine archetypes are the four we’ve already mentioned: King, Warrior, Magician, Lover. The immature, boyhood archetypes are the Divine Child, the Hero, the Precocious Child, and the Oedipal Child. Each of these immature archetypes have the same tripartite configuration as the mature archetypes. They all have their highest and fullest expression along with their two bi-polar dysfunctional shadows.

Before a boy can access the King archetype he must develop the Divine Child; before he can access the Warrior archetype, he must develop the Hero archetype. And so on and so forth.

Whew. That’s a lot to chew on and digest. It sounds complicated, but I think if you see Moore’s idea of the four masculine archetypes and the development from immature to mature masculinity in a diagram, it’s actually pretty easy to understand (Click the image to zoom in):

Click to see enlarged version

Over the next few months, we’ll be taking a look at each of the four archetypes and providing suggestions on how you can develop them more fully in your own life. Here’s a roadmap of what we have coming ahead:

  • Boyhood Archetypes
  • The King Archetype
  • The Warrior Archetype
  • The Magician Archetype
  • The Lover Archetype
  • How to Access the Archetypes
Like I said at the beginning of the post, Moore’s four masculine archetypes aren’t going to be everyone’s cup of joe. Some of his thoughts and ideas are sort of out there. However, I’d encourage you to keep an open mind about this stuff. Why? Well, first, I think it’s useful and just plain interesting to learn about an idea that has had a big influence on masculinity in America.
Second, the KWML framework is a useful tool to help you become a better man. While I don’t agree with everything that Moore lays out in KWML, I’ve personally found this framework useful in exploring and developing the mature masculine within myself. Maybe you will, too.

While being a man ultimately comes down to outwardly putting right principles into real action, those actions must come from a mature and healthy inner place, and these ideas, when thoughtfully reflected upon, can help get you pointed in the right direction as you seek to become the best man you can be.

I’d recommend getting a copy of the book so you can follow along as we go through the archetypes, as it will let you get more in-depth if your curiosity is piqued. Plus, I’d love to hear the insights you’ve gleaned while reading.

The Four Archetypes of the Mature Masculine:
The Boyhood Archetypes – Part I
The Boyhood Archetypes – Part II
The Lover
The Warrior
The Magician
The King

{ 56 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Brandon the Curious July 31, 2011 at 8:18 pm

I’m curious as to why we should look to Jung or Freud to explain to us what it means to be a man. I don’t say that to insult Jung or Freud, but what did they do to demonstrate manliness? And I asked that as an honest question. I know little of their personal lives.

When I first start following AoM, I enjoyed reading the Lessons in Manliness profiles on men like Teddy Roosevelt, Winston Church, etc. If the teaching of Jung and Freud are to show me how to be a better or truer man then it might be helpful to have an article explaining why I should trust what they say.

2 Richard July 31, 2011 at 8:29 pm

Excellent article. It’s good to take a break from using tools and dressing nice to look at the more esoteric aspects of manliness.

And Brandon, I understand the question, but it is the wrong one to ask. Freud and Jung had little to say about manliness–these are not their ideas by those of Moore and Gillette. So it would at least be correct to ask about what kinds of men they were. But even if you ask the right question, I still think it is the wrong one. There have been plenty of examples in history of philosophers and great men who had great ideas but whose lives did not match their rhetoric.

3 andyinsdca July 31, 2011 at 8:43 pm

These guys did a book for each archtype as well. I read them all a billion years ago and must dig them out

4 Michael July 31, 2011 at 8:51 pm

I’ve used these ideas in my life, but I’ve always thought that the idea that men were excessively feminized in American culture to be ridiculous. What men are in our culture is denied access to mature masculinity by our consumer culture and obsession with domination.

If you don’t need, you don’t need what’s on the TV. And if you’re mature, you know what you need, so you are a terrible mark. And if you stay within the oppressor/oppressed model, you can never mature into a full person. You’re stuck forever at the bottom of each pyramid. Right where you are easily manipulated.

5 Dom July 31, 2011 at 8:55 pm

A couple of years ago, I started to question my accomplishments, and why they did not seem to fulfill me as a man.

Slowly, I began aware of the actions and results that do satisfy me emotionally, and I have been exploring, and being quite ashamed, that my needs as a man seems to be barbaric and anti-establishment. And I thought I was just being irresponsible.

This article changed all that for me. Great and important read for me!

6 Shadowex3 July 31, 2011 at 9:10 pm

I’ve been a long-time reader, and one of the things I always liked was that AoM was very much a sound-advice website. This… is not sound advice. Aside from the fact Freud and Jung have been far and away discredited this borders on relying primarily on magical language and wishful thinking to provide a one size fits all “formula” for manliness, something which has imho until now been rightly avoided. The closest I’ve seen to this kind of WooWoo (as Mr. Randi would call it) is bringing up philosophy and encouraging a man to find his own.

I think, if anything, a Man would be someone who reads this and promptly recognizes it as bunk.

7 Shadowex3 July 31, 2011 at 9:11 pm

(The bunk, of course, being psychoanalysis woowoo that even the notoriously “soft science” of modern psychology and psychiatry don’t recognize anymore)

8 Brett McKay July 31, 2011 at 9:37 pm


Agreed that Freud and Jung’s theories have been mostly discredited by modern psychology. And yes, like I said a few times in the post, lots of the stuff in this book is what you would call WooWoo and pyschobable.

Despite that, I still think Moore’s application of Jung’s archetypal framework to masculinity is still worth analyzing and considering, if for anything that it gives a different way of thinking about manliness and masculinity than what we typically see out there. Even if you don’t get anything out of this series that helps you develop as a man, you’ll at least know a bit more about an idea that’s influenced masculinity in America.

Also, like I said in the post, I think someone with a keen enough mind can sort through the WooWoo and take away some practical advice from these ideas. I also found this whole archetype thing conducive to introspection and reflection. As long as someone doesn’t approach this as a one size fits all formula for what manliness is, I think they can get something out of it. It’s all about separating the wheat from the chaff. Unfortunately, many people aren’t good at this and will completely throw the baby out with the bathwater if they a few things in an idea that they don’t agree with. You seem like the kind of gent that wouldn’t do that.

9 dlarabel July 31, 2011 at 9:39 pm

Sounds interesting and I look forward to the next segments.

10 Bennette July 31, 2011 at 10:50 pm

I kind of agree with Brandon. I’m not exactly a fan of Jung or Freud. Freud had some pretty wack characteristics and frankly I think his philosophy is out there.

Anyway I support this website and you, keep doing what you’re doing. Its a great read.

11 Luke July 31, 2011 at 10:54 pm

It’s kinda hard to dismiss the whole series of posts before you read them. Give Brett a chance. While I don’t buy into Jung personally, there’s no reasons his ideas, applied to masculinity, couldn’t shed new light on it. And more than that, this is making many of the men that read this sight better read and erudite, which as previous articles have mentioned, is very manly.

All Brett does is mention the names Jung and Freud and some people want to throw the baby out with the water…

12 Jeff J. August 1, 2011 at 12:00 am

I read KWML several years ago. Like Brett said, there’s a lot of New Age junk in it, but I enjoyed the book. It gives you a lot to think about and mull over. I certainly disagree with the authors quite a bit, but even after all these years, I’ll find myself thinking about their ideas and trying to sift out and analyze their conclusions about the male psyche. That to me is a sign of a good book. It stays with you.

13 Naethanyl August 1, 2011 at 12:22 am

Jungian Pyschology, like many of his ideas, are based in myths, and as a story teller, I’ve always been fascinated by Jung’s unique outlook upon pyschology. Myths and stories are the means by which human societies grow and disseminate their ideas and values systems. By breaking down heroes, protagonists and even villains of any mythos into their base archetypal components, we learn more ourselves and can extrapolate into the living and breathing mythos of life. Like Joseph Campell, who wrote extensively on the nature of the hero’s journey with much of his ideas owed in part to Jungian archetypes, I think that by analyzing ideal, and not ideal masculine heroic archetypes, we can better ourselves as men.

14 Andrew August 1, 2011 at 12:50 am

I’m sure what I have to say may irritate some but I assure you, that is not my intention. As a man of faith I’ve admired the manly example that Jesus sets in the Bible. Whether you believe Jesus to be the son of God or not, it’s hard to deny that he leads by example and teaches well about what it means to be a real man. That being said, I’m interested to see where these articles lead.

15 Million August 1, 2011 at 1:13 am

Funny thing, I was flipping through the pages of this book just this morning. I don’t think there will ever be a way to scientifically prove any of the lessons found in it–but my own daily life improved dramatically after reading the section on accessing the Warrior archetype (specifically, the parts about samurai, and attacking/taking action instead of holding/reacting to problems.) Even though the book is entirely based on theories and “unproven” ideas, the results that many readers acheive are irrefutable. A good lesson is a good lesson, and results don’t care if that lesson was provided by Carl Jung or Obi-Wan.

Brett: Thank you, sir. I was wondering when this book would be delved into on this site.

16 TD August 1, 2011 at 2:09 am

Woah, it’s like an RPG except REAL.

“I could devote an entire post to Jung’s psychology.”

I’d love to read it!

17 JC August 1, 2011 at 6:44 am

This is an excellent idea for a series and a very well-written article, that introduces some interesting concepts in a clear style – without talkiing down to us. I applaud the Art of Manliness for doing this sort of thing. What separates this website from others is the fact that they are willing to push the boundaries and raise the game a little. So, to the naysayers, let’s read along and see what we get out of it.

I look forward to the rest of the articles.

18 Eldon James August 1, 2011 at 7:33 am

Just finished “King Warrior Magician Lover” last month and began “Accessing the King Within” only a few days ago. I found them both to be profound, exhilarating illuminations of the masculine psyche’s dark abyss. If Moore and Gillette are standing on Jung’s shoulders, it is primarily his concept of the “collective unconscious” that they have used as the foundation for their theory. For some of the commenters here to completely discount Moore and Gillette’s work because some contemporary studies have disagreed with Jung is unfortunate. It would be like kicking Stephen Hawking because Isaac Newton also dabbled in the occult.

19 john August 1, 2011 at 8:04 am

How to be a King, Warrior, Magician, and Lover, or, in other words…the Bible!

20 Daktari Frank August 1, 2011 at 9:58 am

I concur with Andrew on the example of Jesus. Mayb Brett can someday write sth on Him. About the post, lets give Brett a chance-we can pick one or two ideas from them. I look forward to them.

21 Matt August 1, 2011 at 10:22 am

Looking forward to the posts. Thanks!

22 Steve Edenbo August 1, 2011 at 10:30 am

Thanks for starting this series of articles. I spend my time studying some historical figures who were often great and flawed men. The study of history, for me, is not the search for a savior or hero, but rather for the lessons that can be learned by imperfect individuals who faced the same problems we still face. Both the progress they achieved as well as the failures they suffered can offer us useful lessons. The study of Jungian ideas, and the reading of KWML, might be considered in a similar manner. Jung’s ideas are an important part of the history of the process toward understanding the human mind. KWML is now also a more recent part of that same history. Neither of them are the final word on the subject, but they each represent important articulations in the developing conversation. I’m looking forward to reading the series.

23 DC August 1, 2011 at 10:54 am

Its true that Freud and Jung’s psychology is not followed by any respectable university psychology departments in the world, however, you cannot underestimate that importance that they have had in 20th century literature and the arts. These men supplied many of the most important literary themes of our time, sounds manly enough to me

24 Alex August 1, 2011 at 10:55 am

Hi…I love this article and am a big fan of the archetypal perspective on personality development. I would like to suggest however, that there are several people who are more deserving of a title like ‘Father of Modern Psychology’ than Freud. One particularly worth of note would be William James…whose approach to psychology was more scientific and logical than Freud’s.

25 Brett McKay August 1, 2011 at 11:08 am

Alex and everyone who thinks this article is about Freud-

Come on partners. Did you guys read the post? The KWML framework is not based on Freud. We’re not studying Freud!

KWML is based on the work of Jung. And even then, the author or KWML expands on Jung and adds his own take.

I mentioned Freud in passing just to give some background history about Jung and the development of the archetypal framework of studying male psychology.

So I repeat. This isn’t about Freud.

26 Owen Marcus August 1, 2011 at 11:18 am

Good job explaining a complicated model in a clear and usable manner.

You are correct; the Archetypes were the foundation of the first Men’s Movement. Understanding them gave men support in exploring the deeper aspects of the masculine. The Archetypes were our first step out from the feminine form of emotional expression.

With the Jung’s, Campbell’s and Moore’s work we got to see that men are more than robots earning a living and fighting wars. We had a reason for wanting more and a way to connect to that more and other men that were unique to men.

I don’t feel the study of the Archetypes is any less beneficial today. Yet, I would agree that the men’s movement needs to find a new way to communicate with the next generation of men exploring what it is to be a man. We need Man’s Movement 2.0 to reach men and their collective unconscious of being a modern man.

In our men’s groups over the years I have seen countless men embody the higher versions of the four Archetypes without a conscious intent to do so. When a man connects, experiences then expresses his deeper aspects the disenfranchise parts begin to work together. Understanding the Archetypes can help explain what occurred, but you don’t need to know the Archetypes to create the change. The map is not the territory.

27 Maaldweb August 1, 2011 at 11:41 am

I was thinking of buying this book, and I read some parts of it at amazon. To my surprise it starts with an imbecilic condemnation of patriarchy blaming it for the oppression and exploitation of both men and women…. Well it goes without saying that I changed my mind and no chance I will buy a book which ascribes to basic feminist myths.

28 mh August 1, 2011 at 12:24 pm

While the names of the various things sound archetypical and Jungian, their structure makes them looks vastly more like something drawn from the Nicomachean Ethics. These are, after all, feelings or types of activity which admit of vices of excess and defect, with a virtuous mean.

29 Ken W August 1, 2011 at 12:27 pm

To Brandon and the others who are asking “why these guys?” I submit the following:

In spending just a few minutes on the Wiki entry for Carl Jung, I have learned that he was a man who deliberately faced his own shortcomings with honesty, and took decisive action to remedy the problems where he could and saw the necessity. He also had political insight that I had no idea about and respect upon reading (comparing overzealous nationalism to a “state religion” which was destructive to individual freedom and humankind’s natural spirituality).
He was also humble, writing that his long expeditions into remote regions in order to study isolated populations and their “primitive psychology” instead turned into deep introspection and new understanding of his own deeply ingrained European psychology.
Add to that the fact that he served when called in World War I, maintained all his relationships with Jewish friends in and around Germany when many were bailing, and publicly chastised a professional organization he belonged to when it endorsed the Nazi party, and you have a man who is not afraid to stick to his morals, even if they can be politically or socially damaging.

I’m interested to see what is gleaned in the upcoming articles, and like Brett I’m not worried about investing myself in 100% of what something has to say. If 5% of it speaks to me, there is value.

30 Austin August 1, 2011 at 12:54 pm

I can’t wait to learn more about this. This appears to be a very interesting subject matter to delve into.

31 Playstead August 1, 2011 at 1:25 pm

I was a little shocked that I enjoyed this post. I think looking a little deeper is always a good idea and most guys can’t open their mind enough to look at stuff like this. You don’t have to buy it, but it’s worth thinking about.

32 Peregrine John August 1, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Feel free to ignore the rumbles that sound like some of my relatives: “We ain’t never done thins that way round here, an I ain’t startin now!” Jungian ideas work perfectly well for this sort of thing, and after some slight trepidation (not being the woodland drum-circle type, myself) I found the archetypes to be excellent metaphors, giving good metrics to gauge one’s maturity. A lot of the nay-saying sounds fearful, to me.

33 Michael August 1, 2011 at 6:07 pm

whether you believe in the teachings of someone or not, it can only benefit you to learn a little more about them and how they may be applied in different areas.

how can it possibly be a waste of time to expand your knowledge and open your mind to ideas that differ from your own???

34 Clay Andrews August 1, 2011 at 6:54 pm

Wow! Looking at some of the comments on this post, it seems that some people are not very happy about this.

I think it is a bit foolish to dismiss something entirely just because it contains something you may not agree with before first seeing how it may apply to you.

Personally, I’m looking forward to this and seeing how it pans out, even though I’m not much of a “woo woo” hippie so to speak.

35 JeffC (Tool Bucket) August 1, 2011 at 7:38 pm

If all this series does is to expose the boys, it will be electronic ink well-spilled.

I agree w/ a bit I read about Moore: a claim, either by him or on his behalf, that the boyhood archetypes have become dominant in modern Western culture. Looking around, I see boy-men of all descriptions who delay stepping into true manhood, sometimes beyond the age of thirty, because they are clinging to one or another of the boyhood archetypes in Moore’s chart. Moore may not know everything, but it seems he might know something worth learning.

Release the hounds.

36 Funwin August 1, 2011 at 9:40 pm

Brett, This is incredibly valuable stuff for any man, and when you boil it down there is absolutely nothing imparactical about the model. Ever been aware of times when you tried to be too good – follow a particular goal, be “nice”, or stop drinking are examples – and something snaps and it feels like you’ve sabotaged yourself, but you don’t know why? That’s because you nelglected an essential part of yourself, and it emerged from the shadow to bite you on the ass as a reminder to give it the attention (you) need to keep all cylinders firing.
So I see KWML, and similar tracts from equally hirsuit “men’s movement” leaders as Moore and Gillette (an archetype in themselves), as being all about balance, the things that as a man you do well paying attention to understand yourself and other men. And as a father of three boys, this is important knowledge to pass on to them.
Adding to the literature you mentioned, and for anyone familiar with the stories of Don Quixote, Hamlet and Faust, I found a small book by Robert Johnson (no relation to the bluesman) gave me great insights to learning a few lessons that as luck, and a string of broken relationships, had it I was able to learn before becoming a father. It’s called ‘Transformation’, published by HarperSanFransico. Recommended.
Just my opinion, but Don Quixote, Hamlet and Faust should be required reading for any man, along with William Shirer’s ‘The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich’, a classic history of Nazism by a legendary Chicago Tribune correspondent that for my money shows the terrifying and worst possible consequences that can follow when any of the so-called “archetypes of the mature masculine” gets the upper hand.
Thanks for a great site Brett – and all the very best to you for keeping up the well-rounded work.

37 RNBDJ August 2, 2011 at 1:49 am

I concur with Brandon “the Curious” and maaldweb. In reading Irvin Yalom’s “Gift of Therapy” this past year, I stumbled upon some interesting disclosures: “Some of the most important lebens-philosophers (philosophers dealing with problems inherent in existence) were singularly tormented individuals. For starters, consider Nietzsche and Schopenhauer (extraordinarily isolated, anguished souls), Sartre (alcohol and drug abuser, interpersonally exploitative and insensitive), and Heidegger (who wrote so profoundly on authenticity yet supported the Nazi cause and betrayed his own colleagues, including Hussel, his teacher).” He continues, “Carl Jung, no paragon of interpersonal skills, was sexually exploitative of patients, as were many of the members of Freud’s inner circle – Ernest Jones, Oto Rank, and Sandor Ferenczi.” Personally, I wonder what gives these psychologists/psychiatrists the authority to determine universal principles for manhood. Yes, it’s always possible to glean glimmers of truth from imperfect sources, if one looks intently enough. Yet if right thinking leads to right living, I would much rather spend time learning from men whose lives embodied the lessons they preached, especially when it comes to a crucial topic like masculinity.

38 Claes August 2, 2011 at 12:16 pm

I love both Jung and Freud and since I hadn’t heard of Moore before I’m really excited about the next part in this. Keep up the good work Brett.

39 Jeremie August 2, 2011 at 3:03 pm

I am part of a Men’s Group and we led a retreat based on these archetypes. While it was a few years ago, that retreat is still one of the most memorable. Topics of discussion are meant for discussion; they are not a list of rules that you have to believe in. For example, a man of faith commented about his views (post 14). I am an Atheist but there are good stories and morals to be taken from stories of Jesus. Point is read it, understand it, and mold it for yourself. Important lessons are found everywhere, especially in places you disagree with or write off before understanding.

40 amyates August 2, 2011 at 4:37 pm

The intro states that “The purpose of the Art of Manliness is to help men become better men.” I was at a scholarship banquet (my brother was receiving a scholarship) hosted by a masonic lodge and they repeatedly said that their purpose was “to make good men better.” I would be really interested in a post on masonry. (Disclaimer, I’m not a mason)

41 dannyb278 August 2, 2011 at 10:18 pm

words like “retreat” and “mens group” are just products of our self-help society, which is about as unmanly as it gets. You want to be a man? Be a good father, and produce a better child than your parents produced. Besides that, just go after something you always wanted and quit pussyfooting around. climb a mountain, restore a motorcycle, kayak a river, or go rough it in the woods for awhile. answers will not be found in psychology books, self help books or the like. Instead bring a book about a man you admire like TR while on an adventure.

42 Jeremy Sheffel August 2, 2011 at 11:28 pm

It seems hasty to discount the entire series before reading it, as some have done. Looking for truth is like mining for gold; you have to sift through a lot of rocks to find a nugget. I’ve always appreciated that Brett hasn’t tried to spoon feed his readers, but instead gives us stuff to chew on and consider for ourselves. Having said that I would like to say how impressed I am at the civility and thoughtfulness of the comments section at AoM. Even when we disagree we do it with respect, which is something you almost never find on the Internet.

43 Boysen Hodgson August 3, 2011 at 11:08 am

Brett – Thanks for the post.
Thanks for mentioning the ManKind Project. MKP has KWML in it’s DNA, along with Jungian conceptions of the archetypes and shadow. Robert Moore is a strong MKP supporter.

AND … MKP also has all kinds of other frameworks built in [Integral] – along with incredibly powerful technology for conflict resolution, self-responsibility, emotional intelligence, healing and moving through trauma, discipline and mastery, community and connection. The organization has evolved significantly over 25 years of history. MKP still offers the most powerful men’s weekend training available. MKP also has the largest community of peer-support men’s groups in the world [nearly 10,000 men in weekly circles] and a Leadership training curriculum that matches or exceeds much of what is available on the market – new-agey or business class.

Though there are lots of people who still try to fit it into the Michael Meade ‘drum circle’ stereotype … it’s a dismissal based on old stories.

The MKP that I’ve been a part of for the last 8 years embraces whatever works to help men discover and explore their own sense of personal mastery. It’s increasingly diverse, multi-generational, forward thinking and engaged in the world. The ‘pony-tail’ guys (who are certainly still around – and bless them!!) are sitting next to high-powered entrepreneurs, social change agents, urban professionals, gen-y visionaries, professional mental health workers, yogis, marathon runners and crossfit addicts, contractors and lawyers, doctoral candidates and drop-outs, 12 steppers and environmental scientists.

The stereo-types are stale, and don’t accurately reflect reality.
There’s still lots of bad ‘data’ out there.

The ManKind Project offers an experience and a set of tools that can help any man live more fully. And each man brings what he knows to support and challenge the other men in his community. The community takes the most integral approach that I’ve seen to meeting a man ‘where he is’ and inviting him to take his next steps.

However you feel about KWML or Jung … the experience will have an impact.

44 Jeremie August 3, 2011 at 2:55 pm

@ dannyb278
I believe every person has an outlet for growth. Being in college, a group of us found a Men’s Group and met other guys who were looking for a different way to be a man than what is normally considered ‘manly’ on a college campus. I take offense to you criticizing something that was a stable platform for me to achieve those things that you are talking about. Next time, take into consideration that not everyone is going to become a man by reading a book while kayaking out in the wilderness.

45 Greg August 3, 2011 at 3:48 pm

Really excited for this. Keep up the good work, Brett.

46 Max August 4, 2011 at 8:27 am

Awesome, cannot wait!

47 Russ August 5, 2011 at 2:51 am

For the negative commenters, if you enjoyed Star Wars on any level, you’ve been affected by the power of archetypes. George Lucas explicitly formulated the story (sometimes simplistically) on Joseph Campbell’s description of the hero’s journey found in world mythology, which has its origin in the work of Jung.

Has Jung been discredited by modern psychiatry? One could argue yes, to the extent that modern psychiatry has rejected attempts to understand our psychological makeup in favor of numbing patients with prescription drugs. Not much of a tradeoff, if you ask me.

In any case, Moore would really be better described as post-Jungian, since he incorporates Jung but does not rigidly stick with him. There’s good and bad in both Jung and Campbell, like anyone else. For Christians nervous about Jung, consider reading Brian Godawa’s _Hollywood Worldviews_, which describes the power of that hero’s journey myth, or J. R. R. Tolkien’s “On Fairy Stories,” which can be found online.

Part of being a man is thinking and discernment, and these are only exercised when we are willing to peer out beyond outside of the narrow confines of what others tell us is true.

48 Carter B August 6, 2011 at 11:36 am

While I think that there is something to these writings, my main problem with it is the overly mystical and impractical presentation of it. I have a hard time giving credit to anything that uses words like “divine child” and approaches the narrative script of lord of the rings. But it seems to me that Brett has hit the nail on the head in saying that you need to sort through the silly phrases and names in order to find the value in it. What struck me as insightful were the triangles with the complete aspect (king etc.) at the top and the the two lesser polars that make up that. Get rid of the over dramatic names and you have something that applies to every man.

For example, in my opinion the king at its most basic level is referring to the leadership qualities in a man, and a true leader finds his place in between a tyrant and weakling. Sometimes the right thing to do is to push people into doing what needs to be done, but a leader also has to understand and serve the needs of those he is leading.

The psychology that this is based off of maybe be impractical and off base, but there is some merit here. You can’t just read what confirms your biases ignore everything else. Even if you completely disagree with the ideas, this has influenced masculine culture and its important to understand it simply for that reason alone.

49 Erick The Lost August 6, 2011 at 10:57 pm

Woah…I can’t wait to read the articles! I am extremely fascinated by nearly everything I read on this website. I just can’t stop coming back, I feel like I have so much to learn. I’m still a kid but I want to know everything. I’ve never in my entire life had an appetite for knowledge like I do now. I feel like this is partly due to the author of this handsome website. I got a lotta knowledge to devour, A big Thank You to Brett for whetting my appetite.

50 danny dailey August 18, 2011 at 3:01 pm

It is easy to ignore unfamiliar theories as hogwash and woowoo. Perhaps they are hogwash and woowoo, but the fact is, many of these theories sculpt the foundations and substance of peoples’ beliefs. Perhaps one day, a reader of this article series will strike up a philosophical conversation with a man who believes in Jungian psychology or the tenets of the KWML view of manliness. If that reader happens to be me, I will happily take a well-informed position and be able to discuss our beliefs logically using knowledge gained from reading the Art of Manliness.

51 Dan August 26, 2011 at 11:13 pm

I’m quite interested in reading this series. Thank you for writing this! Also, it seems to me that several posters in this comment section fall into one of the KWML poles and some are more difficult to place in a pole (I’d say those are more balanced). This is my novice interpretation of the very little I’ve read so far and I’m excited to read more!

52 J Wilson October 22, 2012 at 4:39 pm

KMWL, is an amazing book, as is Iron John, but If you really want to know more about the four archetypes and becoming more balanced and mature in your masculinity, and your ready then check out and do the New Warrior Training Adventure. Hurry up, the world is waiting!!


53 Kris March 10, 2013 at 10:08 am

It’s important to reference Jung or Freud because they’re are the quintessential example of the magician. Freud created modern day psychology which has been expanded upon for over a decade now. Jung is simply the predecessor who worked closely with one of the greatest minds in history. It is contrasting Freud with any person who has made a breakthrough. I would see Freud as a man because he took a chosen field, dedicated his life to it, and because of it human kind has bettered significantly. This includes right now since a majority of this book’s work is referenced from Jung and Freud.

54 scott addis July 6, 2013 at 1:22 pm

As a man who went through trauma as a child and spent his life in dissonance, I ended up both in a Freudian Psychoanalysis and the Mankind Project which works strongly with the four archetypes.

The two together saved my life.

55 Saagar Sachdev October 1, 2013 at 12:28 am

I’d be really interested when the ‘how to cultivate the archetypes’ section comes out.

I have been advised to go thought about 15 works by Jungian analysts to get rid of my love-addiction, fearful, insecure, and jealous nature.

I literally was enraged reading the articles, imagining my past, but I want to develop asap.

Better late than never.

56 Atlas K. November 15, 2013 at 10:37 am

Hello AoM community, I’m currently researching on the concept and usefulness of the Wild Man in modern masculinity. Do y’all perhaps know of any scholarly research or articles on the subject? It would be a great help, thanks!

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