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From mythology to psychology: Identifying archetypal symbols in movies

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In this article, we introduce the theory of archetype, which explains the connection between ancient myths and the human mind. Based on the assumption that archetypes are in the deepest level of human mind, we propose that archetypal symbolism is a kind of knowledge that supports the cognitive process for creating subjective world-view towards the physical world we live in. According to archetypal symbolism, we conducted an empirical study to identify archetypal symbols in modern movies. A new collection of movie clips was developed to represent eight essential archetypes: anima, animus, mentor, mother, shadow, hero’s departure, hero’s initiation and hero’s return, which can be used in future studies on human emotion. In order to investigate the emotions towards these archetypal symbols, we provide suggestions from the psychological point of view. The present study demonstrates how to identify symbolic meanings in movies, and indicates a new direction for future studies in psychology.
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Keywords: archetypes; human emotion; movies; mythology; psychology; symbolic meaning

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Technical University of Catalonia and Eindhoven University of Technology 2: Technical University of Catalonia 3: Eindhoven University of Technology

Publication date: September 1, 2013

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  • Technoetic Arts focuses upon the juncture between art, technology and the mind. Divisions between academic areas of study, once rigidly fixed, are gradually dissolving due to developments in science and cultural practice. This fusion has had a dramatic effect upon the scope of various disciplines. In particular, the profile of art has radically evolved in our present technological culture
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