Inherited Positive Myths

Discussion Post I submitted for my Atlantic University TP6140 Course – October 28 2020

I concur with Joseph Campbell’s sentiment that our culture “can’t have a mythology for a long, long time…The environment in which we’re living is changing too fast to be mythologized” (Moyer, Campbell, 1988). The movement away from the three major organized religions, the warp speed at which modern technology has changed our lives, and the introduction of secularization, materialism, and new forms of spirituality – at least in the West – all contribute to the changing “environment” Campbell speaks. However, while I understand where David Feinstein and Stanley Krippner are coming from when they suggest that the myths of our parents’ generation are “rapidly” becoming “obsolete” (Feinstein & Krippner, p. 32-33), I disagree to the extent. As Campbell notes, the cultural myths are changing and morphing into something yet unknown. However, in my experience, many of the core family and personal myths I was raised are as relevant today as when I first heard them over fifty years ago.

The work I’ve done so far on my genogram and the digging into my family myths to this point have tended to focus on negative ones.  These are the messages that keep us blocked, which will be a big part of our work as we dive into Feinstein & Krippner’s Personal Mythology workbook.  And, Feinstein and Krippner’s notions that the family myths regarding secrecy about addictions and male dominated households are fortunately much less prominent than when I was growing up.  There are other myths and messages, however, that I have passed down to my children. These typically involve a strong work ethic and self-sacrifice. Both of my children’s grandfathers served in the Military. My Dad was a Marine in the Korean War, and my father-in-law was an Air Force flight surgeon during the Vietnam war. Stories of their heroism and the unselfish service of anyone who defends the country were common in both the household I grew up in and in my own. When we cleared out my parents’ home after both their passings, the grandkids all wanted some of Grandpa’s military memorabilia. My sons attended Catholic Schools with Jesuit foundations from K-12, and they learned a strong sense of service to others, another core myth of generations past.  Their high school required them to serve in the school’s soup kitchen in downtown Washington, D.C., and in the summer, they attended a Christian summer camp whose motto is “I am Third,” behind God and others.  Finally, while I’ve attempted to mute some of this message, the program that says it’s essential to get a good education in order to get a good job is still alive and well. Unfortunately, student loans lock students into fewer choices than I feel comfortable, yet, when I look at my son and their peers, they’re pursuing the same types of professional jobs that my generation and those before me sought as well.


Feinstein, D. & Krippner, S. (2008). Personal mythology. Santa Rosa, CA: Energy Psychology Press/Elite Books.

Moyer, B. (Host). (1988). Joseph Campbell and the power of myth [Documentary], Nicasio, CA: Public Broadcasting System (PBS).