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Marriott, K. (1983). Stevens, A. A Natural History of the Self. London, Routledge & Kegan Paul. 1982. Pp. 324. £12.50.. J. Anal. Psychol., 28(1):80-82.

(1983). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 28(1):80-82

Stevens, A. A Natural History of the Self. London, Routledge & Kegan Paul. 1982. Pp. 324. £12.50.

Review by:
Kathleen Marriott

Edited by:
Corinna Peterson

This is an enthusiastic book, and one would be poor-spirited not to respond to it enthusiastically. With likeable courage and ‘dash’ the author boldly places Jung's theory of archetypes alongside the now well-established work of the ethologists, and the more recent researches into brain activity. He shows how the Innate Releasing Mechanisms in animals and man, which ensure the adaptive responses necessary for survival, are paralleled in the mind. These I.R.M.s of the mind are, of course, the archetypes, the innate pre-dispositions to relate actively to others in ways which ensure our survival, development, and well-being. A young robin will respond with territorial aggressive behaviour to a patch of red; a baby responds with excited approach behaviour to a model resembling in only bare essentials the human face.

This mental and physical parallelism is not surprising. During evolution it is obvious that instinct, with its ability to recognise external stimuli to which it will benefit the organism to respond, is an essential guide to survival and well-being. As mind grew, so its peculiar mechanisms, namely, memory, capacity to image what is not present, to conceive goals, etc., would also come to develop its own methods to help the organism live adaptively, and it produced archetypes. These innate patterns of expected experience energise and guide man towards relating fruitfully both to others and to himself. The baby is born with an ‘idea’ of mother, of father, and behaves in ways which seek out and elicit the appropriate behaviours from actual mothers and fathers (who are also programmed to respond with parenting behaviours).

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