Archetypal psychology was initiated as a distinct movement in the early 1970s by James Hillman, a psychologist who trained in analytical psychology and became the first Director of the Jung Institute in Zurich. Hillman reports that archetypal psychology emerged partly from the Jungian tradition whilst drawing also from other traditions and authorities such as Henry Corbin, Giambattista Vico, and Plotinus.
Archetypal psychology relativizes and deliteralizes the notion of ego and focuses on what it calls the psyche, or soul, and the deepest patterns of psychic functioning, "the fundamental fantasies that animate all life" (Moore, in Hillman, 1991). Archetypal psychology likens itself to a polytheistic mythology in that it attempts to recognize the myriad fantasies and myths – gods, goddesses, demigods, mortals and animals – that shape and are shaped by our psychological lives. In this framework the ego is but one psychological fantasy within an assemblage of fantasies. Archetypal psychology is, along with the classical and developmental schools, one of the three schools of post-Jungian psychology outlined by Andrew Samuels (see Samuels, 1995).