The Orphan


So following on from last weeks post about the Innocent, we now meet The Orphan

The Orphan is the part of us that learns to recognise and avoid situations that are likely to hurt us. It tries to protect us from being abandoned, hurt or victimised.
— Carol Pearson

The Orphan archetype is the ego pair to the innocent and whilst the Innocent is the part that can see the world through the eyes of the trusting young child, the orphan is the child archetype that has been hurt and is looking to regain that sense of safety in the world.

The gifts of the Orphan are:  realism, resilience, empathy and interdependence.

The goal is to regain safety - (ie. he / she does not feel safe now)

The fear of the Orphan is exploitation

The task of the Orphan is: to process disillusionment fully and be open to receiving help from others.

We often see the orphan most active in victimhood.  A person who is fully embracing the archetype of the orphan, wants to tell their story about how they have been wronged and the "poor me" story becomes their way of attracting attention.  If the person finds they get their needs met in this way - i.e. they get into a relationship where they are looked after as long as they remain "helpless" then this can be their modus operandi and it can be difficult to break out of this situation as it means letting go of their story.

It is of course always possible and when we let go of this or any other story it gives us the opportunity for growth.

In an organisation or workplace (or school) where there is a blame culture, this is operating from the orphan archetype.

As a child it is normal developmental stages to first see the purity and innocence of the world (the Innocent) and then to experience hurt and betrayal and no longer feel safe (the orphan).  When we have loving primary caregivers who give us the opportunity for growth, we process these "tasks" and have a healthy integration of the innocent and orphan archetype.

If on the other hand we have absent parents (whether that is physically, mentally or emotionally) we may not have the ability to process these natural stages and can get stuck with unresolved innocent / orphan issues.  Similarly if we have over protective parents (or caregivers) who try to protect us from feeling and experiencing life, we may also fail to integrate these lessons.

As with the innocent, there are several stages of evolution of the Orphan.  When the "chips are down" and we are less resourceful, the lowest level of the orphan is cynicism and using victimhood to satisfy our needs and blaming others.  The highest, most evolved level of the orphan is the ability to be resilient and have realistic expectations.

In an ideal world, we would balance the Innocent and Orphan and when we do so, we realise the gift of discernment - we trust ourselves and know who and when to trust others, we understand that hurt and disappointment happen and we know how to process it, use it as a gift and move on.

These are the 2 child archetypes - in the next post we will meet the first of the parent archetypes (still part of the ego set) - the Warrior...