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Archetype of the Child Baby

Caroline Myss describes many aspects of this archetype, listing them as the orphan, wounded child, magical, nature child, divine, eternal and pure. I would add to this the angry and placating child.

Some of these are easily recognised from myths and fairy stories. For instance Jesus is the divine child and Cinderella the wounded or hurt child. Also dreams frequently express these themes. In some cases one could substitute the word baby for child as there is not a great deal of separation in this archetype except the baby is more vulnerable. This is such an important archetype, and one we are all involved in quite deeply that some examples of dreams with these themes are as follows. I have met some people who have had an ‘ideal childhood’ and yet they do not know the hurt child when they meet it in another, or know how to handle pain well.

Example: I dreamt that bombs had blasted buildings and a baby had been injured.

Example: I had, or was, a deformed baby, having four eyes, and a somewhat distorted face. The eyes were operated on, two being removed. But the baby grew up a dwarf, very lonely, and shy.

Example: My friend put her daughter to bed in another room, and we went in the adjoining room to watch a movie. My friend fell asleep and then all of the sudden, her daughter came screaming into the room, covered in blood. I didn’t actually see what happened, but I knew instantly that a crocodile had attacked her and bitten her legs off.

Example: Was in a basement where my wife and a woman I loved were giving birth to a baby, but I was somehow the one who gave birth to it without a doctor being there. It was a lovely boy. Its lower face was covered by a tight caul, but I pulled this off and it began to breathe. It opened its eyes and looked about, fully conscious. Then said something about Jesus, and, “It is gone!” I asked what had gone, and it replied, “The other ego; where has it gone?” I explained that the spirit self it knew before birth was now gone so it could live in the body. The baby was then taken upstairs, and I felt it was a holy and wonderful baby. I was going to rest from the rigours of the birth, but on looking around saw how dusty and dirty the basement was. I began to clean it, and felt I would go upstairs and rest afterwards.

The dreams express the themes of the hurt child, and this is the most common type of dream. But the holy child dream occurs usually when the person is attempting to transform their life and clean out their basement – their unconscious hurts and psychological, social and family debris. This divine child shows how a new being linking with the wider awareness of Life can emerge out of our ordinary and often malformed self.

Because of the enormous work modern psychotherapy has done in uncovering the childhood traumas and the influence they have on adult behaviour, such themes as listed above are now mostly seen as reflecting early trauma. They are only archetypal in that most of us have such internal patterns of hurt and malformation in us. The holy child, is however, a true archetype. Some of the others are better described as reflecting common human experience. Nevertheless they are of extreme importance as we cannot really become an adult until we have met and integrated them. Without this we remain in childish or even baby levels of ability to relate. Great fear of abandonment, jealousy and rage, withdrawal from everyday life, depression, the pain of losing a love one are frequent signs that our infant or child self is still wounded or malformed, and needs the healing of being allowed into consciousness and thereby integrated into the adult personality. This is not often managed though, as it is a painful process to feel childhood fears and pains as an adult. As many of us avoid pain as much as possible, using painkillers and social drugs to escape from it, the process of meeting who we are is not a common undertaking. Most of modern psychiatry is a method of helping the individual cope with life without really meeting who they are. This has arisen because it is easier than actually meeting oneself. The commercial aspect of medical drugs is also an enormous influence in our times and in some cases prevents people from meeting their inner sickness. See Beware of Love.

When we do undertake the healing of our inner child it is a journey that is also archetypal, and is certainly described in many of the hero myths such as the odyssey. It is given here as Here is one man’s description of his meeting with his child and the implications it confronted him with.

I was led to go down on my knees and kept repeating the words, ‘Withered flowers, withered flowers’. I thought it applied to myself, yet as it developed I saw my partner and other people who had not connected with an awareness of their inner life. So they became as they thought – limited. Then I felt my child speak from within. The words that arose were, “I have had to live through you (the adult). It was not safe and I would have died if you had not opened to me.” I then felt like a shoot had been buried deep inside me. I felt it struggling to grow through all the obstacles that the experiences of my childhood had put in front of it. Now I could feel it was nearing the surface. This was such a joyful experience I cried out, “I am alive! I am getting old with age yet I am filled with life.” K.

Of course the child, or even the baby, hold enormous negative or destructive energy as well. As a baby and child we are incredibly passionate. That passion and feeling response to life may be driven inwards by abuse of one sort or another, but it is there and manifests through the adult in various forms of unconscious drives. The baby has an inbuilt program or expectation to be wanted and welcomed at birth. If this is badly lacking enormous confusion, conflict, and eventually anger arises. In adult life this can express as violence, criminality or in a form of passive aggression. In all cases the partners are hurt as proxy mother or father.

A response I have met with when the baby self meets this is a tremendous swing between murderous anger and desire to placate the mother. It swings because the mother is the only hope of survival the baby has, so to kill her rebounds into the feeling to do anything to  get the mother’s unconditional love.

While governments fight wars and spend billions on armaments, the main work of human beings is left undone. This work is the task of growing up, of dealing with our childhood, healing it and emerging as a new and mature person who is moving beyond the need for aggression, jealousy, possessiveness and dependency. We need to take the energies locked in our old animal behaviours and our childhood and release them into the possibility of growth and transformation – perhaps even resurrection. See: baby; child; baby-healing and helping.

Useful Questions and Hints:

What of the categories is my inner child defined by – hurt; wounded; divine; eternal; angry or placating?

Does my dream child need something from me – if so how can I help it? See Hurt Child.

Is my inner child alive or have I denied it exists?

What is my relationship with my inner child?

What are my dreams telling me about it?

Find out the answers if you are uncertain by using Talking As and Active Imagination.

Copyright © 1999-2010 Tony Crisp | All rights reserved