Tyrant (archetype)

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Joseph Stalin, a tyrant who orchestrated the death-by-starvation of 6 million eastern Europeans to crush nationalist sentiment.

The Tyrant Usurper is the active shadow of the King in Jungian masculine psychology. When a man identifies his own person entirely with the Sacred King, he usurps power that is not rightfully his, becoming a Tyrant.[1]

The tyrant hates, fears, and envies new life, because that new life, he senses, is a threat to his slim grasp on his own kingship. The tyrant King is not in the Center and does not feel calm and generative. He is not creative, only destructive. If he were secure in his own generativity and in his own inner order—his Self structures—he would react with delight at the birth of new life in his realm.[2]

Characteristics[edit]

Human tyrants are those in kingly positions (whether in the home, the office, the White House, or the Kremlin) who are identified with the King energy and fail to realize that they are not it... The Tyrant exploits and abuses others. He is ruthless, merciless, and without feeling when he is pursuing what he thinks is his own self-interest. His degradation of others knows no bounds. He hates all beauty, all innocence, all strength, all talent, all life energy. He does so because, as we've said, he lacks inner structure, and he is afraid—terrified, really—of his own hidden weakness and his underlying lack of potency. It is the Shadow King as Tyrant in the father who makes war on his sons' (and daughters') joy and strength, their abilities and vitality. He fears their freshness, their newness of being, and the life-force surging through them.[3]
The Tyrant is envious of the young, the spontaneous, and the honest. Because the Tyrant is off-center and incongruent, his reaction to criticism (real or imagined) will be exaggerated. Tyrants crumble under pressure, though if he is covert about it he may disguise the fact. Tyrants are paranoid and defensive, and will see initiative on the part of subordinates as threatening.[4]
The man possessed by the Tyrant is very sensitive to criticism and, though putting on a threatening front, will at the slightest remark feel weak and deflated. He won't show you this, however. What you will see, unless you know what to look for, is rage. But under the rage is a sense of worthlessness, of vulnerability and weakness, for behind the Tyrant lies the other pole of the King's bipolar shadow system, the Weakling. If he can’t be identified with the King energy, he feels he is nothing.[5]

Relation to the King[edit]

The King archetype exists in all masculine psyches, and provides energy that a man can draw upon to promote his vision of a better world. But when a man loses sight of the reason for his kingship and instead associates his ego entirely with the King, he loses all sense of proportion and becomes a Tyrant.

In order for a Tyrant to mature into a King, he must disassociate his personal ego from the King without disconnecting entirely.

Relation to the Weakling[edit]

The polar opposite of the Tyrant Usurper is the Weakling Abdicator, who by abdicating his kingship transfers all of the power elsewhere. Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette postulate that the two work together, so that Tyrants and Weaklings reinforce each other. Moore and Gillette write that "Where a man is possessed by the Weakling King, he carries a wound the exact size and shape of the Tyrant's sword."[6]

In order for a Weakling to mature into a King, he must accept responsibility for his life and for the lives of those who depend upon him without identifying himself as "the" king.

Examples[edit]

While examples of the King is reserved for myth and legend, Moore and Gillette do not hesitate or struggle to provide examples of the Tyrant in myth and history.

Furthermore, Moore and Gillette use generic examples, such as the corporate executive who destroys a company to extract its value and enrich himself, the union leader who hold companies hostage and ultimately destroy them, the husband who humiliates his wife in front of the children, or the father who ridicules his children.[11]

References[edit]