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The Jungian Confrerie Jungian Analysis & Psychotherapy
Harley Street, central London, Bermondsey & Colchester

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The Hero’s Quest

What unites Frodo Baggins, Harry Potter and Luke Skywalker? According to Professor Joseph Campbell, it is the monomyth, or hero’s quest, a common thread in stories in which the ‘hero’ embarks on an adventure, comes out victorious in a decisive battle and returns home a changed person.

Campbell outlined this discovery in his book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949), after studying hundreds and myths and legends from around the world. He found that each one represents the hero’s journey in some form, with twelve points serving as landmarks in the circular trajectory of the tale. These include the following:

The Ordinary World (Status Quo)

The status quo at the start of the journey is where it all begins before any quest has been presented.

The Call to Adventure

An invitation or challenge arrives which disrupts the status quo and compels the hero to embark on a journey. In real life, this could be in the form of a potential career change, relationship break-up, house move etc.

Refusal of The Call

Whether through fear, doubt or insecurity, the hero faces trepidation at the prospect of any change to the status quo.

Meeting the Mentor

Assistance arrives in the form of a mentor who offers insight, advice, training and encouragement that helps the hero make a decision.

Crossing the Threshold

The hero goes past the point of no return by accepting the challenge and accepting that their life will never be the same again.

Trials, Allies, Enemies

After crossing the threshold, the hero starts to encounter a number of tests, allies and enemies. This could be in the form of meeting new colleagues, taking on extra work or moving in with someone new.

Approach to the Inmost Cave

Preparation required for the ordeal is undertaken.

The Ordeal

Also known as ‘slaying the dragon’, the ordeal is when the hero faces their greatest fear and confronts the thing most difficult in their life.


Having slain the dragon, the hero is met with the reward of facing their greatest fear and coming out on top.

The Road Back

Success in their adventure makes returning to their ordinary life a difficult prospect, but one which they must accept.

Return with the Exilir

Once we have slain our dragon and returned to our ordinary life, we are different from when we first left and feel ready to share our tale with others.

The Hero’s Quest. kid-hero

In coming up with his theory of the hero’s quest, Campbell was influenced by Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung, who developed a branch of analytical psychology based on archetypes, which he understood to be central in guiding actions, behaviour and character traits.

Campbell adopted this view and thought that when we discuss the hero’s quest, ultimately what we are talking about a journey grounded in an archetypal cornerstone, or more simply put, that it has deep roots in human consciousness. He saw its usefulness as a roadmap for navigating the mental landscape of modern life, with each person living out their own quest, slaying their dragons and being reborn.

The Hero’s Quest. dragon

The idea of the hero’s quest has become a central part of Jungian analytical psychology, with its lessons used as an effective tool for tackling complexes and facing up to suppressed feelings. By first establishing that you are on your own journey, you should be able to pinpoint at what stage of the circle you are at, whether it’s the call to adventure, the refusal, the ordeal or the approach to the inmost cave. The aim of this is to discover the metaphorical dragon that needs slaying in your life or that already has been slain but requires further reconciliation (the road back/resurrection).

By doing this, you are facing up to your fears - be it a fear of intimacy, failure or cutting loose - and bringing negative feelings into the light, before overcoming them by ‘seizing the sword’. Once you have done this, you will be able to return as a stronger person, sharing your new-found gifts with others.

One of the most effective ways of adopting this approach is through consultation with a trained therapist. At Jungian Confrerie, they provide precisely the support you need to find your own hero’s quest and slay your dragons, offering guidance, encouragement and advice on how to make the most of the techniques outlined.

Their expert services are offered across central London, Bermondsey, Southwark and London Bridge, as well as Colchester in Essex. To find out more about Jungian Analysis and how it can help you, or for queries about booking sessions, call 0333 339 2430 or get in touch by email.

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