The Child Archetype

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Orphan Child (Abandoned Child)
The Orphan Child is the major character in most well known children’s stories, including Little Orphan Annie, the Matchstick Girl, Bambi, the Little Mermaid, Hansel and Gretel, Snow White, Cinderella, Harry Potter and many more. The pattern in these stories is reflected in the lives of people who feel from birth as if they are not a part of their family, including the family psyche or tribal spirit. Yet precisely because orphans are not allowed into the family circle, they have to develop independence early in life. The absence of family influences, attitudes, and traditions inspires or compels the Orphan Child to construct an inner reality based on personal judgment and experience. Orphans who succeed at finding a path of survival on their own are celebrated in fairy tales and folk stories as having won a battle with a dark force, which symbolically represents the fear of surviving alone in this world.

The shadow aspect manifests when orphans never recover from growing up outside the family circle. Feelings of abandonment and the scar tissue from family rejection stifle their maturation, often causing them to seek surrogate family structures in order to experience tribal union. Therapeutic support groups become shadow tribes or families for an Orphan Child who knows deep down that healing these wounds requires moving on to adulthood. Identifying with the Orphan begins by evaluating your childhood memories, paying particular attention to whether your painful history arises from the feeling that you were never accepted as a family member.

Films:Margaret O’Brien in The Secret Garden; Hayley Mills in Pollyanna; Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter, Matt Damon in Goodwill Hunting, Linguini in Ratatouille
Fiction:David Copperfield by Charles Dickens; The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum., Harry Potter by JK Rowling

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