Chinese medicine is not the only system of healing that recognizes archetypes. Famously Jungian psychology goes deeply into how deep expressions of being a human show up in archetypal images. The Greek pantheon of gods and goddesses also show something essential about how human life unfolds, and how the interplay of intrapsychic dynamics can learn to wellbeing or suffering. 

Various streams within Chinese medicine also see physical or relational aspects of the Five Phases manifesting in our experience. The Saam method can help us understand these archetypes as they manifest through the Five Phases and Six Conformations. 

It’s easy to recognize imbalance, as it stands out in the same way that a caricature portrait will emphasize one or two notable features of a person. And if we are looking to understand a particular dynamic it is easier to recognize first its exaggerated form. So we see the Taiyin, Earth Spleen type as a pudgy, bored person who cares for nothing more than creature comfort and a desire to kick back in Lazy-Boy and scroll through the Netflix playlist. Or we see them as a person who endless ruminates and plans, takes care of everyone else around them, but can’t move forward on any care for themselves. It’s easy to see the dysfunction, but it takes a more nuanced view to recognize health.

Health is when there is a dynamic interplay of counter-balanced organs. So when the activity, motivation, curiosity and a willingness to tinker in the world energy of the Yangming, Metal Large Intestine intermingles with that of the Spleen, you’ll see a person who is capable of doing in the world, and with a keen eye toward helping others. You’ll see focused activity tempered with rest and self care. There will be a healthy balance of dryness with moistness. The ability to both plan and execute those plans. And a healthy curiosity, not so you can gather information for gossip, but because it’s a way to be more connected to others. Because when you’re connected, you can more effectively be helpful. 

When first learning to grasp the Chinese medicine archetypes as seen through the Saam method it’s very helpful to start with the imbalances as they are easier to see, and they show up all the time in our clinical work. But as time goes on it helps to have a more nuanced view. Because learning to recognize health will not only help you to clarify vision and work in a more effective fashion. It will also help you to track the progress of your patients as they move into a more balanced relationship with themselves and the world. And it’s important for us as practitioners to know when we have helped our patients to complete a piece of work, so we can let them go.