The Anima/Animus – the lovers dance within and without!

The anima and animus are described as elements of Jungian theory of the collective unconscious, a domain of the unconscious that transcends the personal psyche. Yet many are left puzzled as to what these two concepts mean.

The two concepts are energetic imprints that correspond with the inner identity of the personality and help to shed light on the unconscious side of the personality and how it affects and builds, desires, dreams wishful fantasy beliefs. For example, the beliefs that are accumulated over the lifetime, are stored within the our personal memory bank, and expresses itself in the personality through day to day interaction. The true causes of psychological trauma can be analysed and relieved, through working with the psyche to unravel earlier traumas and triumph’s.

Yet we are also impressionable by the socially driven, outer environment, the social aspect of our community. Which also plays an integral role in our development and personal beliefs. We are innately social creatures, striving for connection and unity, diverse in our nature yet possessing the same innate qualities beneath the physical body.
Each individual possesses in internal drive for action (masculine) and receptivity (feminine), rather than elude to believing in the gender identity and using that gender identity to construct the personality, the opposing gender of the individual, is what shapes the fantasy world for the individual, including the ideal image and behaviour of a romantic partner. The opposite psyche imprint, is designed by the individual through early childhood learning, thus; from birth to age 12, the child is absorbing life, lessons, good or bad, attachments that have been formed in early childhood help to build the inner psyche structure. During the first 12 years, the child’s brain is receptive and operates in alpha brain wave state. Therefore, a man’s experiences with the opposite sex (mother) shapes his idealised image from his attachments or detachments, depending on the child’s social circumstances. And, vice versa for women.

Damaged attachments create a damaged psyche, the individual will grow up with internal complexes, insecurities, and phobias. These damaged attachments then become the blueprint for the dysfunctional bonding and the basis for addictions. Whereas collective archetypes of the outer world can also leave a lasting wound, where a child’s trust was damaged or broken by authority figures, from the social environment, outside the family home, this can also cause rebelliousness and anti-social aspects in our beliefs and behaviours.

Each gender has the unconscious opposite gender within their psyche framework, In the unconscious of a man, this archetype finds expression as a feminine inner personality: anima;

In the unconscious of a woman is expressed as masculine inner personality: animus.
The anima and animus can be identified as the totality of the unconscious feminine psychological qualities that a man possesses or the masculine ones possessed by a woman. It is an archetype of the collective unconscious and not an aggregate of biological father or mother, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, or teachers, although these aspects of the personal unconscious can influence the person for good or bad.

The emotional sensitivity of a male is often low or repressed in a patriarchal dominated world, the anima is one of the most significant autonomous complexes of all. It is said to manifest itself by appearing in dreams. It also influences a man’s interactions with women and his attitudes toward them and vice versa. For women, this is the animus.

Jung said the encounter with the shadow is the ‘apprentice-piece’ in the individual’s development, whereas, the anima is the ‘masterpiece”. Jung viewed the anima process as being one of the sources of creative ability. ‘the key to controlling the anima/animus is to recognise it when it presents itself in daily interactions or experiences and exercise our ability to discern the anima/animus from reality’.

It’s not what the person looks like, but their inner wounds and demons that contribute to the dance of anima animus, as within, so without.

Understanding the difference between what is true and what is only projection can be a challenge. If a person or group of people has really ‘got under our skin’ when powerful emotions are experienced, it may be a projection rather than the truth behind the emotions.

Levels of anima development and their shadows
The first is Eve, named after the Genesis account of Adam and this is the first layer of the anima, is man’s internal image and likeness of their own internal anima. Her shadow is Lilith, the woman who uses sex as her tool, which is unconsciously revealed in her behaviour!

Helen of Troy, an allusion to Helen of Troy in Greek mythology. This second phase is meant to show a strong schism in external talents, basically, it’s the career development of the woman. The shadow opposite to the bride is the whore, or prostitute, one who uses sex as a mean’s for obtaining money!

Mary, the mother aspect of the anima named after the Christian theological understanding of the Virgin Mary (Jesus’ mother). At this level men are looking for a good mother, to raise his offspring. The shadow opposite is the absent mother, lacking any attachments, and consumed with envy toward her children, much like the wicked step mother, one who views her own vanity and sexual qualities above all else, even over including her children!

Sophia – The fourth and final phase of anima development is named after the Greek word for wisdom. Complete integration has now occurred, which allows women to be seen and related to as particular individuals who possess both positive and negative qualities.

In broad terms, the entire process of anima development in a man is about the male subject opening up to emotionality, and in that way a broader spirituality, by creating a new conscious paradigm that includes intuitive processes, creativity and imagination, and psychic sensitivity towards himself and others where it might not have existed previously.

All the shadow projections of the anima are seen through the expression of behaviour.

Levels of development depend on the person’s ability and motivation to grow through experience and learning. Acceptance of the anima in such a dogmatic and patriarchal environment is more challenging for males than females. There’s also the concept of the social shadow, or the projected anima, that bombards both men and woman, young boys and girls, into believing their idol, is one who they hold inside as an ideal, not understanding the shadow elements the idol hides! Here the anima falls under the spell of fantasy!

A comparison of incarcerated genders highlights a clear disparity between man’s ability to expand and evolve, compared to a woman, due to their innately reduced capacity to connect emotionally. The varying levels of development follow that of becoming emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically mature and balanced in all areas.

The first level is emotional maturity. – Eve, innocent to life’s trials, the animus begins by discovering emotions and emotional maturity.

The second level is mental maturity, – Helen, choosing one’s life path, direction and career. Demonstrating independence, authority and dominance.

The third level is spiritual maturity, – Mary, nurturing and caring for the feminine. The creator of new life. The feminine principle is active and alive in man.

The fourth level is the soul expansion – Sophia, a return to wholeness and unity. The final level expands consciousness, experiences and enlightenment.

The dance of the anima and animus is the inner reflection of the lovers, their psychological essence form the foundations for our experiences and life lessons. A fully integrated anima/animus will lead the curious learner to assimilate their ego and surpass ego temptations and traps.

The Animus
Jung focused more on the man’s anima and wrote less about the woman’s animus. Jung believed that every woman has an analogous animus within her psyche, this being a set of unconscious masculine attributes and potentials. He viewed the animus as being more complex than the anima, stating that women have a host of animus images whereas the male anima consists only of one dominant image.

Karl Marx also described a similar outline to that of the man, he stated in his works that man is the fisherman in the morning, the hunter in the afternoon, the politician in the evening and the priest at supper. When you look at both theorist’s examples, you can see a clear correlation in what the sociologist and the psychologist both were trying to explain about the nature of man. It is by understanding Karl Marx theory that we can now understand the nature of the woman and what she expects, from her animus, or rather, how she idealises her outer personification of man!

Here, Jung stated that there are four parallel levels of animus development in a woman.

Protection – Man of mere physical power – Marx explained this as the Hunter!

The animus “first appears as a personification of mere physical power – for instance as an athletic champion or muscle man, such as ‘the fictional jungle hero Tarzan'”. Woman’s innate need for protection, which tends to be a fictional figure, or hero, that rescues the damsel in distress. Women are aware of the fact that men, are of greater physical power than women. Which is why the first level representing the fairy tales and fables are so popular with women.

Women who have a strong make role model will develop a healthy animus archetype, those who don’t have a strong role model, will develop a weaker, fragmented animus, which could leave the woman, vulnerable to possession. Or what is sometimes termed as spellbound, where a woman’s animus, is captured, by the powerful, confident male.

Connection – Man of action or romance Marx captured this as the fisherman or ‘provider!’

In this phase, the animus – the romantic man. America’s Ernest Hemingway, war hero! Women strive for a connection with man, as women are naturally emotionally hard wired for connection and communication. The mental level of connection applies to women, who have integrated their anima, and are self-sufficient and independent. Women who strive for connection and sharing, the danger with this level is that the man may be idealized, more than realised.

Intelligence – Man as a professor, clergyman, or orator; Marx saw this as the politician!

In the third phase the animus becomes the word, appearing as a professor or clergyman. I view this as intelligence. When women have integrated their animus to this level. They are integrating the leadership qualities of the masculine imprint. The intelligence is reached through spiritual maturity and self-development.

God – Man as a helpful guide to understanding herself. Marx theory stated the Priest!

Finally, in his fourth manifestation, the animus is the embodiment of meaning. Jung noted that in mythology, this aspect of the animus appears as Hermes, messenger of the gods; in dreams, he is a helpful guide. Like Sophia, this is the highest level of mediation between the unconscious and conscious mind. Integration of the emotional, physical, and intellectual capacities. At this level, a woman will express her autonomous and true essence. This is the quintessence of the Aphrodite, a unity of masculine and feminine within.

Levels of development depend on the person’s ability and motivation to grow through experience and learning.

A comparison of incarcerated genders highlights a clear disparity between man’s ability to expand and evolve, compared to a woman, due to their innately reduced capacity to connect emotionally. The varying levels of development follow that of becoming emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically mature and balanced in all areas.

Anima and animus compared

The four roles are not identical with genders reversed. Jung believed that while the anima tended to appear as a relatively singular female personality, the animus may consist of a conjunction of multiple male personalities. In other words, the collective animus includes several, different personalities of men (father, brother, uncle, teacher, labourer, provider, doctor, policeman etc) where women personify these elements into their animus.

The process of animus development deals with cultivating an independent and non-socially subjugated idea of self, by embodying a deeper word, and manifesting this word. To clarify, this does not mean that a woman becomes more set in her ways, but that she is more internally aware of what she believes and feels, and is more capable of expressing these beliefs and feelings. The animus in his most developed form sometimes makes her even more receptive than a man to new creative ideas.

Both final stages of animus and anima development have dynamic qualities, open-ended qualities (there is no static perfected ideal or manifestation of the quality). They also form bridges to the next archetypal figures to emerge, as ‘the unconscious again changes its dominant character and appears in a new symbolic form, representing the Self – the archetypes of the Wise Old Woman/Man

The yin and yang – They can bring life-giving development and creativeness to the personality, or they can cause petrification and physical death, this depends on the health of the psyche and moreover, the temperament and power of the shadow! Possessed….. Bewitched…. Controlled!

One danger of the conscious by the unconscious behavioural representation of the archetype is – Possession, caused by the anima …bad taste: The anima is thereby forced into the inner world, where she functions as the medium between the ego and the unconscious, as does the persona between the ego (false mask) and the environment.

Alternatively, over-awareness of the anima or animus is a danger, as it seeks to usurp the self, with which the persons animus identifies. This identification is a regular occurrence when the shadow, the dark side, has not been sufficiently realised.

The anima and animus is the underpinning to personality traits and learnt habits. Masculine and feminine energy is mainly identified as gender, whereas we should be referring to these concepts as energy. These energies are theoretical constructs or concepts, which are useful for explanation but are not identical with physical gender.

Human beings are psychologically androgynous in form with latent inner masculine and feminine energies awaiting development. In the first half of life a differentiation of the primary sexual identity and corresponding energy takes place. A boy will identify with men and masculine energy or habits, vice versa for a woman. Which in later life is a call to integrate the opposite energy, the anima or the animus, arises. This is a move towards wholeness.

The anima and animus can influence a person in either a positive or negative manner. If a man is under the influence of the positive anima he will show tenderness, patience, consideration, and compassion.

A man’s inner image of woman is initially determined by his experience of his personal mother or closest female caregiver. It is later modified through contact with other women–friends, relatives, teachers–but the experience of the personal mother is so powerful and long-lasting that a man is naturally attracted to those women who are much like her, or, her direct opposite. Therefore, how a man sees his own mother is reflected in his choice of woman, her maturity and her choice of career, the shadows of the archetype also demonstrate the hidden side of man’s desires! Does he select such a woman for her positive attributes, such as outer beauty, or is he selecting her outer beauty in the vain attempt to hide his shadow thoughts about her and his mother by her projected behaviour?

My point here is that, not all beautiful women, possess beauty within, they could well be projecting this through their body, whereby hiding an ugly shadow within. As beauty is skin deep, not superficial!

A man under the influence of negative anima manifests as vanity, egoic, moodiness, bitchiness, and sensitivity to hurt feelings. Negative manifestations of the ignored or repressed anima can be seen in a man’s waspish and poisonous remarks, whereby he gives the image of a person playing a destructive intellectual game. (Narcissism)

A woman’s animus is determined by her experience with her father or, closest male caregiver. It is later modified through contact with other men–friends, relatives, teachers–but the experience of the personal father is so powerful and long-lasting that a woman is naturally attracted to those men who are much like him or, his direct opposite.

A woman with a positive animus shows assertiveness, control, thoughtful rationality, and compassionate strength.
The negative animus reveals in strong opinions, ruthlessness, destructive forces, and ‘always having the last word’.

A negative animus, damaged through childhood trauma, creates the basic ingredients for the woman to experience abusive or violent romantic relationships, due to the violation of trust. A woman forms her beliefs about men, through the damaged animus. Although, we can’t always blame the personal father, their are a myriad of masculine archetypes influencing women from the collective environment!

The Father Complex

Because the first carrier of the woman’s animus is her father, the condition and force of
her personal animus will be determined by the father-complex. If her father figure has been too dominant, she will internalise the voice of judgement and critical authority. If he is too weak, absent or violent, she will have no opportunity for internalising the masculine and will lead a vegetative, unconscious existence, ready to serve the projections and needs of all the male forces in her life. (Co-dependency) The role of the animus affects man also, whereby they too become overbearing like their fathers, or too sensitive, where their anima has usurped their internal balance.

The positive father figure and the animus also provides a woman with the ability to question and think about spirituality. The animus does have a positive role to play in the psychological development of women. When it is activated in its positive aspect, it releases positive masculine energy, focused attention, concentration, and every quality associated with logos thinking, the ability to connect in consciously with what was previously unconscious. It can also be a positive ‘father-force’, carrying encouragement, protection, principle, and containment. The same principle is applied to men, where they look up to their father and emulate the same qualities of their father. If their father was violent, this can have a damaging impact on their development and beliefs in their own authority and superiority.

Let’s not forget that the collective environment can also have a damaging or positive impact on a woman’s animus. If all the authority figures in her childhood were neglectful, abusive and untrustworthy, this too can have an impact on her views and beliefs about the choice of male she selects later in life. Whether she opts for the protector, the provider or the politician is also determined by those experiences she had from collective outer, masculine sources and driven by the inner needs of her animus.

Not all women who were raised in abusive and neglectful homes become co-dependant to an abuser because of their own father, and likewise for all men, who were also raised by fathers who abused them. Their choice of woman could also be massively affected by the external expression of women they see in the outer world and the sexualisation of that expression! They may choose a beautiful model, who really hides her true self (jezebel) behind her shadow and the image she projects, thus using her beautiful body and sexuality as a weapon of control over his weak anima!

These two theorists, one that focused on the sociological and the other, psychological explain their concepts in a similar fashion, whereas Jung was focused on the inner world, Marx was committed to exploring the external, outer world. They both come to the same conclusions regarding the four stages or levels of development for man. Marx explores the social and Jung explores the emotional!

Four being a powerful element in both nature and nurture, four correlates to the four seasons that separates the year, and woman is biologically driven by the four cycles of the moon, as she too unconsciously absorbs the fairy tales, and heroes that bombard her from the collective outer reality. So, on analysis, the two genders are similar yet distinct from the other and both are subject to inner and outer drives.

The stages of development are integral to each of us for human development and evolution. Just as one can have these unconscious drives, directing us from the unconscious, operating in a powerfully unconscious way to select a partner, on that of our parent or first caregiver. Or they could be alluring us to select an ideal, from that which is projected, from the outer expression of the world around us!

What we should now be exploring, is whether the anima, or animus that we learnt from these unconscious drives are from healthy/unhealthy family development or healthy/unhealthy social development, imprinted from the younger years.

Both theorists are accurate in their analysis and both theories apply to human development, nature and nurture are integral and should be included in personality analysis, as biology and sociology both work together, so to does the masculine and feminine work in unity.

For example; A woman who had a damaged animus, is able to overcome these aspects through psychotherapy work, researching both the social and psychological components to achieve freedom and reducing the ego, through developing her inner voice. Being raised in dysfunctional surroundings shapes the persona, but doesn’t control it. Just as a man may model his future wife (Mary or ) on that of his mother, it is by the interaction and selection of his female choices that also highlight’s his weaknesses and shadow repressions, which is revealed in his outward choices and behaviours.

So the outer archetypes and views of the masculine and feminine contributes just as much to our development as the personal inner experiences of masculine and feminine archetypes, which ultimately shapes our beliefs, perceptions and fantasies!

Integration of both energies is the journey of self actualisation! 

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