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In his best-known work The Hero with a Thousand Faces published in 1949, Joseph Campbell describes the archetypal Hero’s Journey or “monomyth” shared by the world. The Hero’s Journey occurs in three sequential phases: separation, initiation and the return. In the climax of the myth, the Hero experiences a psychological death and rebirth. The death of an old aspect of one’s self and the birth of a new and more capable self, receiving insights and experience.
Joseph Campbell was influenced by Carl Jung’s analytical psychology and his extensive work in comparative mythology and religion covers many aspects of the human experience. The Hero’s Journey is not just a mythological story, but is deeply embedded within the human condition. It tells the story of a person encountering a difficult life problem and their journey in resolving it through personal transformation.
In therapy, patients who were introduced to the Hero’s Journey as a means of reconceptualising their disorder as a hero quest, rather than an external stressful task, shifted their attitude from passive to active, supporting them to become the “author of their own lives”. This has been clinically tested in a diverse range of issues, such as: anxiety, depression, trauma, addiction, PTSD and psychosis.
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