The Success and Failures of Michael Jackson. A Psychobiography Through the Lens of the Trickster Archetype

  • Claude-Hélène MayerEmail author


Jung’s archetypes have been subject to numerous research studies. The trickster is an aspect of the shadow archetype in its negative traits, representing the shadowy sides of flexibility, fluidity, wit and ingenuity. The trickster is viewed as an embodiment of contradictions and dualities and is associated with a force which serves as a balancing agent, challenging convention. The author reflects on the trickster archetype and its implications in the life of Michael Jackson, an American leader in the music industry, who became one of the most famous pop icons in the world, the “King of Pop”. By reflecting on his life development and on selected outstanding events, the author explores the way in which the trickster archetype affected the success and failure of the star. This chapter offers an analysis of the moves of Michael Jackson within the context and expression of the trickster archetype and his appeals to overcome boundaries of race, gender, generation and culture flexibly and fluidly with ingenuity, creativity and positive leadership. In the end, however, it is assumed that the strength and power of the trickster archetype active in this celebrity’s life led to failures and ultimately to his premature death. It is argued that the trickster archetype needs to be recognised, seen, acknowledged and understood in its depth to maintain the success of the leader or to transform leadership stories from those of failure to stories of success.


Mistakes Error Failure Jung Archetype The trickster Success Boundary Convention Acknowledgement Transformation Crossover 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Industrial Psychology and People ManagementUniversity of JohannesburgJohannesburgSouth Africa
  2. 2.Institut für Therapeutische Kommunikation und SprachgebrauchEuropa Universität ViadrinaFrankfurt (Oder)Germany

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