Skip to Main Content

A Library Guide to Jung's Collected Works

Explore Jungian psychology resources available from the Pacifica Graduate Library

Reference publications: Heroe/Heroine

Jung on the Hero

Jung on the Hero

From Vol. 5: Symbols of Transformation
From Vol. 7: Two essays on analytical psychology
From Vol. 10: Civilization in transition
Suggested readings adapted from Hopcke's (1999) A guided tour of the collected works of C. G. Jung.

Additional Resources: Hero/Heroine


Addenbrooke, M. (2015). Saying goodbye to the hero: Jung, Liber Novusand conversion from addiction. The Journal of Analytical Psychology, 60(3), 371–389.
Two chapters in Liber Novus throw fresh light on Jung’s epistemology of addiction. Taking these as a starting point, the nature of the challenges that patients confront in leaving addiction behind are explored. It is suggested that an archetypal process of separation is constellated at the point of quitting as the precursor to a life without the object of the addiction. A short account is given of Jung’s part in the inception of Alcoholics Anonymous and the potential role of a ‘conversion experience’ as an initiation into psychological reorientation away from the negative individuation experienced by the hero. The case of a patient addicted to heroin illustrates the contribution of an analytic approach in an NHS setting, along with other workers in a rehabilitation centre. Certain challenges of working with addicted people are outlined, including arousal of the psychotherapist’s rescue fantasies.


Byrne, M. L. (2000). Heroes and Jungians. The San Francisco Jung Institute Library Journal, 18(3), 13–37.
The hero has played a seminal role in the history of Jungian psychology, as elsewhere in Western culture. In this paper I will explore the importance of the hero in both of these contexts, paying particular attention to his relationship to masculinity and death. Taking as my starting point the importance of the attempt to overcome death in hero myths, I will argue that this has led, in European cultures, to heroics constituting a one-sided initiation into manhood, when they are not balanced by the experience of symbolic death; that Jungians have sometimes perpetuated and sometimes subverted this pattern of masculinity characteristic of the West; and that current attempts by feminists and men’s movement writers to “kill off” the hero as an aggressive, immature and anachronistic figure are misguided (and unlikely to succeed) unless they deal with the importance of symbolic death in the making of men.

       Taylor & Francis

Covington, C. (1989). In search of the heroine. Journal of Analytical Psychology, 34(3), 243–254.
The article discusses the concept of “heroine” in analytical psychology. The archetypical image of the hero is familiar and has been described extensively in analytical psychology. There is, however, no reference in these works to “heroine” nor any description as to who she might be or what characterizes her. We are left to assume, along with the Oxford English Dictionary, that “heroine” is the feminine form of hero, or in other words, a female hero. The concept of the “heroine” is relatively recent as compared with that of the “hero,” and the term “heroine” was not used in Homeric or classical Greek literature until it appears for the first time, used ironically, in Aristophanes’s play, “Clouds.”

       Academic Search Premier

Gee, H. (1985). The hero-self. The Journal of Analytical Psychology, 30(3), 239–241.
Discusses whether the term self should be capitalized and suggests that the desire to do so is motivated mostly by the hero part of an individual’s aim to rescue the self from the effects of narcissistic damage. It is suggested that the purpose of the hero in this context is to redirect the libido outwards in a quest for an object that will reinstate the individual’s sense of power. Only when there has been some measure of success can this omnipotent ideal be sacrificed. The part of the individual that wants to capitalize self wants to possess by definition as opposed to leaving it to the individual context.


Meier, I. (2021b). The classic, banished, and negative hero. Jung Journal, 15(1), 36–48.
This paper describes some of the changes in the image of the hero over the last one hundred years beginning with the rise of the theoretical understanding of the hero, initially described by Leo Frobenius, Otto Rank, Sigmund Freud, and C. G. Jung, with a focus on how C. G. Jung described the classic hero archetype. This image of the hero is juxtaposed to current cultural images, where a “de-heroizing” and psychologizing of the hero predominates, as exemplified by the use of the terms banished and negative hero in the psychoanalytic literature of André Green and Harri Virtanen.


Pereira, H. C. (2018). The weariness of the hero: Depression and the self in a civilization in transition. The Journal of Analytical Psychology, 63(4), 420–439.
Abstract: According to the World Health Organization, depression is currently the leading cause of disability, which is of great concern worldwide; however there is much dispute about depression and its causes. This article raises the hypothesis that depression could be related to an increase or inflation of ego‐consciousness, which, in turn, is inseparable from the development of modernity. The ‘hero’, symbol of this historical process of self‐consciousness and autonomy, stands now wearied and disoriented. The paper outlines how, in this cultural scene, certain ideas from Carl Jung’s and James Hillman’s depth psychologies may be useful in addressing the issue: the rediscovery of figures of the other through the analysis of the unconscious (Jung) and associating with others in groups imbued with communal sense (Hillman) could help the depressed individual to mitigate his or her inflated ego‐consciousness. These are two complementary ways of experiencing the conglomerate nature of the self, thus promoting the process of individuation.


Steele, R. S., & Swinney, S. V. (1978). Zane Grey, Carl Jung and the journey of the hero. The Journal of Analytical Psychology, 23(1), 63–89.
The article discusses the use of archetypal images in the works of American writer Zane Grey and psychologist Carl Gustav Jung. Grey’s novels about the American West have become classics of popular literature. Any book liked by great numbers of people might be assumed to have some universal quality which contributes to its wide appeal. Carl Jung writes about the fundamental similarities among images that evoke strong emotions in people. Jung calls these archetypal images, and sees them as an expression of the collective unconscious. Archetypal elements appear here and there in many of Zane Grey’s Western, but one novel, “Wanderer of the Wasteland” stands out immediately from all the others.


Vaughan, R. A. (2020). The hero versus the initiate: The Western ego faced with climate chaos. Journal of Jungian Scholarly Studies, 15, 48–62.
The chaos caused by the global climate crisis is in the news in many forms and has also entered the consulting room: clients are increasingly naming their fear, despair, rage, and experience of impotence in the face of the unknown. This paper builds on the work of G. Albrecht and J. Bernstein, to investigate how we can face our feelings about climate crisis and live through this time without resorting to unhelpful defenses that block our ability to be present, engaged and effective. It examines the unconscious beliefs, habitual patterns, and defenses of the Western ego, which it presents as the mindset of Economism and the Capitalocene, and investigates its identification with the hero archetype. It pays homage to indigenous analyses of the issue in the work of J. Forbes and I Merculieff, and draws on the work of eco-ethical thinkers such as K. D. Moore, J. Butler, and A. L. Tsing, to suggest that the archetype of the initiate may be a better guide as we move into the uncertain, contingent future.

      Open Access