ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Rulers, Sages and Jesters: the Twelve Character Archetypes

Updated on June 13, 2014

Facts About the Makers of the PMAI Test

Dr. Carol Pearson created the PMAI test with Dr. Hugh Marr. Pearson is currently the president of the Pacifica Graduate Institute, an institution that was endorsed by the famous mythologist Dr. Joseph Campbell. Campbell was an early supporter of Pacifica, and saw the institution as a means by which his legacy would carry on after his death. Campbell's personal archive is located at Pacifica. Initially I was skeptical of PMAI because I wasn't familiar with Dr. Pearson's work, but the fact that she is the president of the Pacifica Graduate Institute places her among the ranks of Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell. If you enjoy the works of Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell, you will probably appreciate Dr. Carol Pearson's work as well.

Dr. Marr is a practicing psychologist who specializes in helping people with substance abuse problems. He is credited on all the materials and books about the PMAI system.


PMAI: Not Just a Typical Facebook Quiz

Initially I was skeptical about the PMAI test because I was reminded of novelty Facebook quizzes, like the one that is supposed to help you find out which Star Wars Jedi/Sith you are. Typical dime-a-dozen personality tests that you find on the Internet ask a series of repetitive questions. At the end of the quiz, the information you provided is simply regurgitated in a new way. After I found out more about the PMAI system, though, I began to realize how useful and interesting it really is.

After I took the test and read about the different archetypes I came away with new insights into human psychology. Many of the descriptions of the various archetypes fit well with my understanding of various people I know. Writers in particular will find the 12 archetypes useful for coming up with realistic characters in stories. Another thing I liked about PMAI system is that it manages to maintain flexibility without resorting to vague statements that apply to almost everyone, like the ambiguous predictions contained inside of fortune cookies.

The PMAI system does not try to shove all the complexities of human personality into a neat pigeonhole. In the PMAI system, any given personality is an amalgamation of three or more dominant types, and even those dominant types can change over time. The three dominant character archetypes can combine in a myriad of interesting meaningful ways. I also liked how the Pearson system also takes the lowest scoring archetype into consideration. She calls it the "shadow archetype." In the PMAI system, a shadow archetype represents personality traits that an individual has difficulty expressing. Also, the shadow archetype can represent deep levels of an individual's personality that they may be attempting to repress.

The PMAI System and Psychology

If you are like me in that you find disturbed personality types to be particularly interesting, you may have found yourself collecting information about psychological case studies, flipping through the DSM IV or reading about famous serial killers for inspiration. For me, the problem with psychology texts is that they tend to couch personality descriptions in cumbersome, pedantic terms that begin to get boring after a while. Also, psychology in general tends to dwell on the negative or rare aspects of human personality. Understanding the psyche in terms of storytelling makes sense, because when we talk about ourselves what we are doing is largely weaving together a story.

If the most popular, classic written work of all time is any indication, then we are a species that is completely obsessed not with facts but with fantasy, metaphorical truths, the unknowable and the unknown.

The truth is that story we tell about ourselves is largely composed of half-truths and exaggerations. Both philosophy and psychology has revealed that logical fallacies and cognitive distortions cloud much of what we think we know. Even normal, mentally healthy individuals use fallacies to spin positive tales about themselves. Sports psychologists help athletes tell themselves stories called positive affirmations, which are effective in helping players succeed in athletic competitions.

So, in my view a complete evaluation of the human psyche should take into account not only facts and objective behavioral observations but also the fictitious stories we tell about ourselves and others. After all, our imagination doesn't always lead us astray-- sometimes creative thinking can help us understand the world around us and add meaning to our lives.


Why Do the Personality Archetypes Continue to Appear In Fiction?

The twelve archetypes represent personality types that were probably crucial to the survival of the species. In my view, this is the main reason why these characters continue to reoccur-- because they are useful. Like cells in a living organism, all of the personality archetypes played important roles as humanity transitioned from hunter-gatherer lifestyles based around small tribes and began to organize into increasingly complex societies. It makes sense to think of the personality archetypes as musical notes that were necessary to play the song of human history. If you are able to play the role of each of the 12 archetypes successfully, almost any situation can be dealt with effectively.

On the other hand, each archetype is weak in some way. The mythic hero Gilgamesh, for example, is a perfect example of a Warrior personality archetype. Gilgamesh was apparently based on an actual ruler of the ancient city of Uruk. Uruk's strong walls and successful economy came to be because of the efforts of the real Gilgamesh.

In the myth, Gilgamesh eventually becomes a hero and vanquishes evil creatures that surround and threaten Uruk. He also harvests massive quantities of wood from a nearby forest. However, at the beginning of the story Gilgamesh is flawed. We find out that among other things, Gilgamesh has been abusing his right to have sex with any woman living in Uruk. As a result, many of the men in Uruk are upset with him.

A warrior is strong, but is still only one person. Upsetting the harmony within a social group will lead to problems down the line-- rebellion, chaos, etc. A warrior's inherent strength and ability to dominate becomes a problem when it causes disruption. A different type of character-- maybe a wise elder or a caring wife-- is needed to balance out a warrior's weaknesses and provide guidance. It's easy to see how a small tribe of humans living in ancient times would require all 12 types of personality types to emerge in order to maintain balance.

The same social aspects of social life that mattered in ancient times still apply today, when groups of people assemble to accomplish any type of goal. Some people are more adept at adopting certain archetypes than others. If the chemistry within a group isn't complete, internal problems may arise. Being flexible and fluent at adopting the ways of all the archetypes can help individuals succeed in modern society, which is becoming increasingly fluid and mobile. In the past, the amount of personalities that any given individual would be exposed to was fairly limited, but today people change social situations all the time when they relocate, switch careers or change jobs.

Become part of an ongoing discussion about archetypes on

Please enjoy pictures below, which are related to the various archetypes.

Mother Theresa
Mother Theresa | Source
Rick Grimes
Rick Grimes | Source
The professional wrestler known as the Ultimate Warrior is an over-the-top example of the Warrior archetype
The professional wrestler known as the Ultimate Warrior is an over-the-top example of the Warrior archetype | Source
The engineer from the original Star Trek series is a good example of a handyman type of Caregiver.
The engineer from the original Star Trek series is a good example of a handyman type of Caregiver. | Source
Kathy Bates does an excellent job of portraying evil Caregiver Annie Wilkes in the film adaptation of Stephen King's Misery
Kathy Bates does an excellent job of portraying evil Caregiver Annie Wilkes in the film adaptation of Stephen King's Misery | Source
Madonna | Source
The Punisher, an Archetypal Destroyer Hero
The Punisher, an Archetypal Destroyer Hero | Source
Niccolo Machiavelli
Niccolo Machiavelli | Source
Ben Franklin, Prolific Inventor and Archetypal Creator
Ben Franklin, Prolific Inventor and Archetypal Creator | Source
Victor Frankenstein and His Monster
Victor Frankenstein and His Monster | Source

What Is Your Favorite Character Archetype

See results


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • mercuryservices profile imageAUTHOR

      Alex Munkachy 

      7 years ago from Honolulu, Hawaii

      Thanks! I have read the 48 Laws of Power and I liked it. I might do a hub on that and relate it back to the archetypes. Thanks for the feedback. Your articles are useful and address niche subjects. If you write a bunch more you will bring in lots of ad revenue.

    • Bishop55 profile image


      7 years ago from USA

      I really enjoyed reading this. I found myself identifying with many descriptions, and thought of people in my life about others. I've always loved reading about serial killers. Have you ever read The 48 Laws of Power or The Are of Seduction by Robert Green? I think you'd like them. I hope to buy Mastery soon. He's a fantastic writer. Nice job on this. I'm still trying to figure out how to write something interesting and even half as long.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)