Today's article will be continuing the study of Jungian psychoanalysis. Last week, we explored Jung's concept of the Shadow and how its repression by the Ego can lead to uncharacteristic reactions that are in contrast to a person's idea of themself. Today we will be exploring the concept of the Anima, whereby its development of the mother complex stunts independence and how its involvement in the process of Individuation shares similar traits to the repressed Shadow. From what I've read, the difference between the two is that the Anima is developed as soon as the relationship between the mother-figure is established whereas the Shadow develops after one attains a set of features that they refuse to acknowledge themselves. Apparently, it is a misconception that the Anima is an archetype that exists within the Shadow, but Jung's comparison between the two indicates otherwise and seems to hold the former in higher regard in terms of the difficulty of integrating.

"The encounter with the shadow is the 'apprentice-piece' in the individual's development...that with the anima / animus is the 'masterpiece'"  - Carl Jung

The woman within man

From my understanding, in the male psyche, there exists a "carefully guarded and hidden" archetype that is contra-sexual in nature by embodying 'feminine' traits. I don't think Jung meant this literally as a man playing dress-up but more so along the lines of ascribing words like sensitivity and intuition when referring to the nature of the Anima. The Western tendency to place lesser priority on embracing these traits is indicative of an underdeveloped influence of the Anima when it comes to the surface world of our consciousness. Additionally, Jung also associates a 'soul-like' quality to the image of the Anima archetype by inferring that it has been inherited via evolution and acts as a collective image from which all humans are familiar. Furthermore, he goes as far as to say that the "other-worldly" aspect of this archetype closely involves itself outside of human consciousness and is more concerned with the unconscious. As I mentioned before, the Anima develops as soon as the relationship between mother-figure and son is established. Jung explains that the image of the Anima initially appears as our mother and that as we grow older and separate from the family home it then appears as our lover or wife. I'm assuming that to dream about either of these people would mean that our Anima is trying to convey a message from the unconscious.

Honestly, I'm a bit apprehensive of accepting that the Anima functions on some sort of different plane but I think the point he is trying to argue is that the average person wouldn't be aware of why and how it exists within our psyche. This is further bounded by his criticism of the Western mind which he describes as "extraverted" and with a tendency to downplay the potential existence of mystical forces within our unconsciousness. As someone familiar with Eastern philosophy, it's also not surprising that Jung's love for the East explains why he elaborates his theories around the theme of polarity to such an obsessive extent.

Polarity: Persona v Anima

If the Anima serves as an exploratory function to the unconscious world, then by rule of polarity, there exists the psychological archetype which governs our conscious world. Jung's concept of the persona is the antithesis to the Anima in that it concerns itself with the physical/conscious space and functions to leave impressions upon the relationships that maintain our societal image: professional colleagues, friendships, authority, etc.

The Persona

The Persona is a system of relations between the individual and society. This archetype serves as a sort of evolutionarily assigned "mask" by concealing our true nature through facilitating behaviour that abides with the ground rules, customs and expectations of modern society. Of course, it seems those who identify strongly with this "artificial but necessary" personality are prone to a familiar leakage of unconscious reactions similar to consequences of the repressed Shadow that we discussed earlier. Jung explains: the Anima only has a certain amount of tolerance for our Ego to identify with the Persona. Therefore, as a reaction to this imbalance, the Anima releases the unconscious upon the conscious through moments of 'affect', lapses in logic and bursts of emotion. I will elaborate on my understanding of this point later.

Father (Persona), Mother (Anima) and I (Ego)

Overall, Jung associates masculinity with the Persona and femininity with the Anima. The former acts as an example through guidance while the latter provides protection and the usefulness of the mother-Anima peaks before the initiation of adulthood. Jung's explanation of the Anima's place in the psyche serves as a "protector" of the inner world from the "darkness of the psyche" much like how the mother protects their young from the hidden dangers of the outside world or how the wife enlightens the husband to an unperceived soon-to-be threat.

Comparatively, Jung describes and associates the father figure with the Persona archetype, likening it to how the native tribesmen would show their kin how to navigate their surroundings and how to survive and distinguish themselves among their fellow tribesmen. The father is also responsible for initiating the son as a man by essentially "throwing them in the deep end" through, in the case of native tribes, making use of elaborate kidnappings and leaving them to survive in the wilderness. Mary-Louise von Franz, a Jungian psychologist, elaborates on this point further by comparing the initiation ceremonies of these native tribes to be likened to the harsh and sudden yet required separation from the mother as part of the Individuation process, Jung's end goal. A crucial step in the Hero's Journey.

From my understanding so far, I think what's important here is that we need to find a balance in the value we place upon both archetypes if Individuation is the goal. If a man's Ego inherently has a lack of resistance to either, there isn't anything necessarily stopping it from succumbing to the "lure" of identifying with the Persona and allowing the influence of the unconscious to unhealthily manifest itself in their private lives. To closely identify with the Anima means to heavily rely on the safeguard from the unconsciousness at the expense of an undeveloped Persona which coincides with the development of what we call the 'Man-Child'.

Fear: Conscious and Unconscious

To understand the Anima Jung explains that we only have 2 things to refer to. Our fear and those moments of "affectivity", that is the outward expression of our internal emotions. I'm familiar with moments in my personal life where certain "hard-truths" spur a reaction within me where feelings of disgust and confusion take over. Jung associates this "dangerous knowledge" to ring true with the unconscious and the outward expression as a reaction is a fear-response by the Ego. This is apparently the fear of the unconscious revealing itself to us if the Persona has been heavily identified with, allowing the weakened Anima to act as a sort of open gate for the unconscious thoughts to seep into the conscious.

The Man-child

The man who identifies heavily with their Anima has a peculiar "clumsiness" about themselves. They would be self-aware of the true nature of their ways, their sensitivities, their sexual desires and would, through the Anima, be protected altogether from allowing their inner thoughts to conflict with their conscious responsibilities. Consequently, I believe they have a tendency to underdevelop their capacity to function in the real world. What I'm saying is that those shut-ins who claim to understand the way of the world yet struggle to execute the actions necessary to navigate with that knowledge can be characterised through this imbalance within the psyche.

Mother-complex and the fear of independence

It is my understanding that those who do heavily identify with the Anima have given in to the fear of the psyche and have allowed the mother-image to protect the Ego from the dark truths of the unconscious. A result of such a strong identification to the Anima facilitates projection onto their mother or wife (after marriage). The dependence of the Ego on the Anima to protect it from the revelations of the unconscious parallels that of the Man-child who relies on their mother to shelter it from the harshness of life. Ironically this mother-complex is nurtured further by the mother's tendency to give in to their possessive instincts combined with the son's fear of the unknown both consciously and unconsciously.

“Behold the secret conspiracy between mother and son, and how each helps the other to betray life.” - Carl Jung

To betray life is to regress. To regress is to stray from Jung's idea of Individuation. As I mentioned before, both the Persona and the Anima have their valid functions within the male psyche but when an imbalance develops, we observe the successful man as cruel in their private life or the man-child perpetually stuck in the cycle of fear.

What I want the reader to take away from this is to try and become aware of why they react to certain things the way they do. Is your Anima allowing the fear-response to manifest consciously? Has your 'mask' disconnected you from your inner proclivities? Or has your unconscious fear perpetuated your inability to execute your independence? Similar to last week's article, we concluded that the importance of understanding our moments of "affectivity" have their points of origin within the unconscious and that becoming aware of this is the first step in coming to terms with the various archetypes within your psyche. Overall and at a glance, it seems like Jungian theory is still very apparent to see how applying his ideas with the process of self-development. Both the Shadow and Anima retain an important part of ourselves that we can easily disregard and we can only benefit by allowing both into our awareness.