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Monday, April 29, 2013

Character Archetypes 101: The Caregiver

This week, The Caregiver took some time off from lending a hand to everyone to vacuum the crevices of my couch before lying down. The Caregiver is also known as the saint, altruist, parent, helper, supporter, and nurturer in archetypes circles.

The "Good"

The Caregiver does just care, unselfishly, compassionately, and generously. They are supportive, understanding, empathetic, encouraging, and optimistic. They draw people to them by their innate altruistic personalities, dedication, and patience.

Caregivers are most fulfilled when they are making a difference in the life of someone else. They actually expect very little in return. They are dedicated to demonstrating their support to others, which can found in their ability to listen, stay positive, advocate for others, and provide counsel.

Others always come first, self second. Responding to needs is exciting and challenging to them. They always see the silver lining in people and situations, responding with reassurance and empathy.

The "Bad"

The Caregiver has a tendency to be unable to say no to others. Resentment can set in when too many demands are made of an overly compromising Caregiver, and eventually, this can lead to self-martyrdom. They take a risk in their pursuit to help others, and can end up getting harmed themselves, whether this comes in the form of burnout, being too much of a doormat, or being exploited.

Some Caregivers have a hard time with balancing self-care with care for others, and can work themselves and others until they drop. They might engage in guilt-tripping others or pushing a personal agenda on others. Some Caregivers might only help others for personal gain or fame, or even infer that they are the only means of helping others achieve health, almost like a savior complex.

The insatiable needs to "fix" everyone and make everyone happy are impossibly tasks. This means the Caregiver is often trying to please everyone and being everything to each person, which is exhausting. This can also make the Caregiver seem wishy-washy, like s/he has no ideals for which to stand. 

Likely Goals

To protect others
To care for and help others
To make a difference

Likely Fears

To be selfish
To be ungracious
To burn out

Examples in the Media

 -->Julie Andrews as Maria in The Sound of Music
Sandra Bullock as Leigh Anne Tuohy in The Blind Side
Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins
Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird
Liam Neeson as Oskar Schindler in Schindler's List
Jessica Brown Findlay as Lady Sybil in Downton Abbey  
Emma Thompson as Elinor Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility
Renee Zellweger as Dorothy Boyd in Jerry Maguire   

Archetypes Who've Completed Therapy

The Innocent
The Orphan
The Hero 

Let's Analyze

Since archetypes carry with them a stereotypical connotation, it's not unlikely that people would think only of women for this archetype. I had a hard time myself thinking of males who fit this bill. Can you help me think of any more?