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Developmental Differences in Younger and Older Adolescents’ Understanding of Heroism
Unformatted Document Text:  4 Our purpose here was to examine one such contemporary mythical hero, Batman, as he struggles with his own feelings of vengeance through a complex quest to save and protect the weak. We were particularly interested in developmental and gender differences in adolescents’ understanding of that internal struggle as well as the qualities that viewers found in Batman that made him worthy of emulation as a role model. Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious The theoretical framework for this study is largely drawn from the work of Jung as well as from scholars in comparative mythology, film criticism, and developmental psychology. Among Jung’s (1958) theoretical contributions to developmental psychology, the concepts of archetypes and the collective unconscious are two of the most important. The idea of the collective unconscious builds upon the work of Freud by dividing the unconscious into a personal unconscious, containing images and impulses stored from an individual’s life experiences, and a collective unconscious, containing a vast store of shared primordial, cultural images and impulses, known as the archetypes. We explore several archetypes here including the hero, the shadow, the heroine, the anima, the animus, the wise old man, the father, the mother, the son, and the villain. The hero archetype involves the central character, or protagonist, who must temporarily separate from the Ordinary World to experience a series of physical or psychological trials. More specifically, the archetypical heroic story involves: something taken, a journey, deeds, a return bringing something from the world abroad, and a changed hero (Campbell, 1988). The hero’s courage, strength, resolve, cunning, and skill to overcome dangers are tested during the journey. The hero comes to some epiphany that allows for a return to and restoration of the Ordinary World (Campbell, 1968;

Authors: Zehnder, Sean. and Calvert, Sandra.
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4
Our purpose here was to examine one such contemporary mythical hero, Batman,
as he struggles with his own feelings of vengeance through a complex quest to save and
protect the weak. We were particularly interested in developmental and gender
differences in adolescents’ understanding of that internal struggle as well as the qualities
that viewers found in Batman that made him worthy of emulation as a role model.
Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious
The theoretical framework for this study is largely drawn from the work of Jung
as well as from scholars in comparative mythology, film criticism, and developmental
psychology. Among Jung’s (1958) theoretical contributions to developmental
psychology, the concepts of archetypes and the collective unconscious are two of the
most important. The idea of the collective unconscious builds upon the work of Freud by
dividing the unconscious into a personal unconscious, containing images and impulses
stored from an individual’s life experiences, and a collective unconscious, containing a
vast store of shared primordial, cultural images and impulses, known as the archetypes.
We explore several archetypes here including the hero, the shadow, the heroine, the
anima, the animus, the wise old man, the father, the mother, the son, and the villain.
The hero archetype involves the central character, or protagonist, who must
temporarily separate from the Ordinary World to experience a series of physical or
psychological trials. More specifically, the archetypical heroic story involves: something
taken, a journey, deeds, a return bringing something from the world abroad, and a
changed hero (Campbell, 1988). The hero’s courage, strength, resolve, cunning, and skill
to overcome dangers are tested during the journey. The hero comes to some epiphany
that allows for a return to and restoration of the Ordinary World (Campbell, 1968;


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