Relationships/Emotional Control Systems

Reptiles — and unemotional people — always react the same way to events. Mammals, in contrast, select from a variety of reactions. Emotions enable flexible responses to environmental stimuli.[1]

Emotional control systems are hardwired into mammalian brains.[2] Neuroscientists have identified ten emotional control systems[citation needed]. These emotions are:

  1. Seeking and anticipation; energetic, goal-directed searches for food, shelter, mates, etc.
  2. Homeostasis — balance of oxygen, water, temperature, etc. — and the discomfort of deprivation and pleasure of relief.
  3. Anger and rage, when another animal steals our resources (food, shelter, mate).
  4. Fear, and fearful anticipation of the future.
  5. Separation distress, e.g., when a mother and child lose each other. This is the basis of anxiety and panic.
  6. Sexuality and lust.
  7. Nurturance and maternal behavior.
  8. Fun, joy, and playing to create social bonds.
  9. Sorrow, grief, and loneliness.
  10. The sense of self.

These neural pathways are the basis of personality types[citation needed]. While everyone has all ten emotional control systems, different circuits are stronger or weaker in different individuals. A neural pathway that an individual uses often becomes myelinated or stronger.[3] E.g., a mother develops strong maternal instincts.

An individual's personality type is the emotional control system she uses most often. One of the goals of personal growth is to strengthen underused emotional control systems. An immature individual responds to all events with the same emotion.


Personality types repeat in human experiences generation after generation. These archetypes appear in the ancient world as gods and in myths and folktales.[4] Archetypes appear in the modern world as celebrities, movie formulas, and recurring news events.

The above ten emotional control systems, plus several speculative circuits, form the fifteen personality types in the following chapters. The speculative emotional control systems are

  • Valuing the past through tradition, ritual, and ceremony (Hera).
  • Homemaking (Hestia).
  • Skillful use of tools, especially controlling fire (Hephaestus).
  • The quest for meaning (Dionysus).

Additionally, Poseidon symbolizes the limbic brain not integrated with the cerebral cortex, and Apollo symbolizes the reverse.

Individuals embody different archetypes at different life stages. E.g., a young woman may embody Aphrodite, the goddess of romantic love and feminine beauty. In her 30s, she becomes Demeter, the mother. Later she embodies Hestia, making a beautiful home. Or she may pursue a career, embodying Athena.

The transition between archetypes can be difficult. E.g., an Artemis woman her twenties and thirties may resent her suitors and keep them at a distance or choose only those who would never qualify as lifelong partners. For her, dating partners may be temporary liaisons to share an adventure, men who need a lot of distance, or female lovers. Then, in her forties, she may be shocked to find herself feeling lonely and depressed as Artemis recedes from center stage, her developmental needs may suddenly contradict the ruling archetype, requiring emergence of a new pattern, such as Demeter, the goddess of motherhood. If her ego remains identified with the old pattern, this transition can be confusing and painful.[5]
—Connie Zweig and Steve Wolf, Romancing the Shadow (1997)

Opposites AttractEdit

Similar personalities cause marital problems. E.g., Artemis and Ares look similar, but competition drives the couple apart. The easy road to divorce is to match your spouse's archetype.

In a successful relationship, a partner responds to his partner by selecting an emotion opposite to her emotional state (see "Opposite Relationships"). But opposite personalities are immediately painful. E.g., your wife embodies Hestia and buys every item in Martha Stewart's catalog. You embody Hermes and suggest taking a vacation-hopping freight trains. You'll argue and disagree. But handled well you'll "get on like a house on fire." In the long term, this will produce a happy marriage-and balanced individuals[citation needed].

Encourage your spouse to embody your opposite archetype. You embody his opposite. E.g., an Athena woman who married an Apollo man (similar personality types) should develop her Artemis energy (his opposite). He should develop his Poseidon side (her opposite). But don't do this at the same time-Artemis and Poseidon don't match.

Ideally, a couple uses all fifteen archetypes, at different times. But most couples stay with a few main archetypes. You need a village of relationships to use all the archetypal pairs.


  1. Panksepp, Jaak. Affective Neuroscience: The Foundations of Human and Animal Emotions (Oxford Univ, 1998, ISBN: 0195096738), p. 50.
  2. Panksepp, Jaak. Affective Neuroscience: The Foundations of Human and Animal Emotions (Oxford Univ, 1998, ISBN: 0195096738), p. 52.
  3. Pearce, Joseph Chilton. Evolution's End: Claiming the Potential of Our Intelligence (Harper San Francisco, 1992, ISBN 0-06-250732-X, 21-22.
  4. Samuels, Andrew. Critical Dictionary of Jungian Analysis.
  5. Zweig, C., Wolf, S. Romancing The Shadow: Illuminating The Dark Side Of The Soul (Ballantine Books, 1997, ISBN 0345417399, p. 122.

Couples · Zeus-Hera

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Couples · Relationships · Zeus-Hera
About This Book · Q&A · Recommended Books
The Science: The Evolution of the Human Brain · How Women Select Men · How Men Select Women · How Our Ancestors Lived · Monogamy and Polygamy · Hormones · Communication Styles
Life Stages: Childhood – Seeking Unconditional Love · Adolescence – Seeking Romantic Love · Adulthood – Families And Forgiveness · Agape – Altruistic Love
Practical Advice: Where Couples Met · Flirting · How to Write a Personal Ad · Dating · Sex · Becoming a Couple · Conflict In Relationships
Personality Types: Emotional Control Systems · Zeus-Hera · Poseidon-Athena · Apollo-Artemis · Hermes-Hestia · Ares-Hephaestus-Aphrodite · Dionysus-Demeter · Hades-Persephone