Fairytales and Archetypes

Recovery archetypes

Life Works often use fairy tales to explore many aspects of a persons behaviour. Often the very same archetypes present in people struggling with an addiction or behavioural health issue, can be applied to fairy tales.

Faitytales and Archetypes


The fairytale, Beauty and the Beast seems slightly out of place in addiction therapy.  A merchant Father goes travelling for work, and brings back gifts for his three daughters. Father and Beast cross paths as a result and the Beast asks for the daughter’s hand. The daughter (Bella) is initially scared, but after spending time with the Beast, begins to love him and everything ends well. So What? Well what if the characters actually represented something deeper, something that could actually relate to our characteristics?

Archetypes are characters that stereotypically represent different attributes of a personality. For example, it’s not unusual for us to hear some individuals referred to as the ‘parent’ or ‘mother’ of the group if they have a prominently nurturing element to their personality.

In the archetypal version of Beauty and the Beast above, Bella represents ‘the self’ and the Beast represents ‘the shadow’ of the self. Once Bella has declared her love for the Beast, He turns into a handsome Prince and they live happily ever after. This part of the story represents the need for an individual to know and love themselves as a whole person, including their less desirable aspects, before they can walk off into the sunset and truly be happy with themselves.

Other Archetypes include the ‘warrior’, and the ‘witch’. The Warrior symbolizes the strong male hunter, who wants to protect others. The Witch symbolizes a woman of danger or ill doings. These characters represent the light (desirable) and shadow (disliked) parts of a person’s make up, which most Archetypes do.

So what characters would your fairytale include? What would those characters and their actions tell of your unconscious mind and your current daily lives. What would they tell of your needs for the future? Maybe it’s not so out of place in addiction recovery after all.

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