"If the encounter with the shadow is the 'apprentice-piece' in the
individual's development, then that with the anima is the 'master-piece.'"
Jung CW 9 I, Para 61.
Originally the idea was that a man has an unconscious & undeveloped
feminine side and a woman has an unconscious and undeveloped masculine side.
Late 20th Century capitalist society has shown that men may also show
undeveloped masculine as well as feminine traits, as can a woman show
underdeveloped feminine traits. And that the issue of masculine and feminine is
not the gender issue it once was. Men may exhibit high degrees of emotional
development and women high degrees of intellectual achievement. The whole notion
of what is masculine and what is feminine has come under deep scrutiny and is
generally problematic. However, if we look at the masculine and feminine as
traits separate from gender, we may still gleem some gems from a kind of
dreamwork that goes beyond the adaptation of the ego to the outer world and the
shadow this creates.
Anima. The inner feminine side of a man.
Animus. The inner masculine side of a woman.
In classical Jungian analysis, the individual would begin to develop these
unconscious areas once the analysand had caught on to the idea of the Shadow.
But the Anima/Animus pair go beyond mere underdeveloped functions.
With the Shadow, we said that it was part of us that got repressed or pushed
away. With the Anima/Animus we say that it was *never* part of us, but
infinitely attracts us. When a man says about a woman "It's Her" or a
woman says, "That's Him" we are getting close to what Jung meant by
the strength of the pull of these Archetypes. When we are in love, its seems the
most intimate and personal event we have ever experienced, but when our friends
and family are possessed by fascinations and loves, we are aware that they are
not completely themselves and are acting out patterns that seem to occur over
and over in life, myth and fairy tales.
In dreams the Anima/Animus are said to show up as opposite sex characters.
But they really are more like myths than real people. (And myths in both senses
of the word) For a man, the anima can be said to be the collection of all the
experiences man has ever had with women. And for the woman, the animus is said
to be the collection of all the experiences women have had with men. But Jung
was quite aware that we all have both. So lets just look at this level of psyche
as what we see as "Totally Other", in that it can be felt out a bit,
but never fully understood.
Exercise: a. Write down the sentence: "All men are [blank]" and
fill in the first ten things that come to mind. b. Write down the sentence
"All women are [blank]" and fill in the blank with the first ten
things that come to mind. Can you recall dreams where you were attracted to
someone with these characteristics?
"Anima and animus tend to operate like partial or separate personalities
made up of different composite patterns. In man, the (anima) behaves like a
different individual "other" personality with whom he is
"stuck" or to whom he is "married". For the sake of
individuation it is necessary for him to find out what this other personality is
like, how it feels, thinks and tends to act. In a given situation one has to
consider not only one's own reaction but also how the anima reacts, what she
desires, likes or dislikes. Like a problematic partner, the anima has to be
treated with attention and consideration but also with discipline and
experimental interplay and challenge. " ( p185)
We can only relate to this other by giving them some means of expression and
showing a willingness to learn from them as well.
In dreams, they classically appear as unknown figures of the opposite sex.
But are all opposite sex characters Anima/Animus characters? There are some good
reasons for saying "No", especially when the opposite sex characters
are mother or father like. The Pair not only present themselves to us as guides
to parts our ourselves that need development, but also as fascinations with
things and people that lead us into destruction. Thus its better to say that the
Pair are mediators of the unknown, with one foot in our world and one foot in
I'm going to suggest 3 dual levels of depth that Anima/Animus characters
present to us in our dreams, Projection/Desire , Identity/Acting out and
The first level is an accumulation of our opinions, personal and cultural of the
opposite sex , but also an accumulation of what we *don't* know, but need to
move towards wholeness. In our dreams they may appear as our lovers or unknown
others we are attracted too. What we desire is carried by them, and so they not
only appear as the girl and boy next door, but as the "Him who It" or
"She" for whom we would sacrifice ourselves. In psychological
parlance, its said that our desire is "projected" into another person.
To the degree that we *have* to have the love object. This call of the other can
be very strong. It's said to call the child away from the parents to be an
adult. It calls us away from our secure routines to something new and untried.
It calls us from partial participation in life to risking our whole selves in
There seem to be three main tasks associated with this, (1) the development
of parts of our self we hardly understand, (2) finding in ourselves what we seek
in others, and (3) learning to recognize when the desires and attractions are
larger and more powerful than we are.
Exercise: Recall a dream with some interaction with a person whom
you are strongly attracted. a. Describe what they might be like. What type of
person are they? Are they a feeling person, a thinking type, a person of action,
a spiritual person? b. How can you bring to yourself a little of what they
offer? If what they offer is something destructive, ask yourself what
alternatives you might try that aren't as destructive but still address the
desire. c. Where does the person or relationship with that dream person seem to
be leading you? Is the offer one that seems attractive but will harm you in the
long run, or is it leading you into some new territory or avenues in life?
Finally on projection/desire, this whole thing may reverse and like in any
love relationship also be seen in intense hatred.
This is the level of Anima/Animus relationship were we become possessed and
act in compulsive ways. Instead of real feelings , we offer sentimental quips
and fall into brooding withdrawals or fits of passion. Instead of real
consideration we offer opinions and prejudices, become dogmatic, argumentative
and over generalize. Perhaps it is the unconscious awareness that the
Anima/Animus carry what we most desire that we often try to just grab it and
imitate it. Sometimes it is easier to pretend to be it instead of really coming
to terms with it.
EXERCISE: a. Anima: Where in the dream do you find exaggerations, distortions
and falsifications. When are the romantic scenes just too romantic, too many
candles, too loud of music? b.Animus: Where in a dream do you find priests and
politician types that are spewing out opinions that are old, borrowed and over
At the deepest levels of Anima/Animus we must let go the idea that they are
something or someone we can control. We can develop our own relationships, but
there is always a part of ourselves that will forever elude us and be outside
our will. The Anima/Animus has the ability to completely enchant us and make us
believe we are far more wonderful and great than we are. Actual and potential
become confused in a person whose ego is inflated and puffed up by the
Anima/Animus. In Greek mythology there are like the sirens. They sing so
beautifully that a man hearing the song will abandon all reason and leap into
the sea or crash his boat against the rock to be near them. How often does this
happen in real life?
And conversely, we may believe that we are much more awful and bad than we
really are. A powerful inner negative Anima/Animus may continually whisper
exaggerated and false truths to us.
The answer of how to deal with such powerful attractions is eternal. Note the
anima?like figure that Oedipus encountered, and even after getting by this
tricky anima figure, he ended in ruin. An example of our cultural failure to
come to terms with anima is in the substance abuse (including TV, movies, food
and other bridges of desire) that is rampant. And the failure on a culture level
of animus may be seen in the large groups that hold unexamined opinions and
force them on others. The Jungian view on all this would be that we address
these issues first by removing the board in our own eyes. To the degree that we
can accomplish this, the Anima/Animus become our guides to the unknown, the
mediators of the deep unconscious. Since they lurk around our undeveloped parts,
they are our guides to what we don't know about ourselves and lead us along the
path of wholeness. Since they are connected to deeper layers of the unconscious,
they can also be the mediators of our journey towards the Self.
A few comments on Anima/Animus in dreams. While we are looking from a
distance at this deep part of the psyche, a close encounter is something quite
different. Some encounters with the Anima/Animus leave us changed for life, just
as do our love and hate relationships. In a way its quite silly to give an
exercise, as this implies that the entity is something *we* control and evoke at
will. But I feel justified in that we already recognize this double feature in
dreams, that the dream figures are somehow ours and yet are autonomous and have
their own wills too. By coming to experiment and play and interact with these
dream figures, we can perhaps steer our course better through stormy waters.
Jung: _Aion_, CW 9, II esp. chap 3, "The Syzygy: Anima and
Animus," pp. 11?22.
________. psychological Types, SW 6, esp, chapter 11
"Definitions," under "Soul [psyche, personality, personal,
anima]," pp. 463?470, and under "Soul?Image," pp. 470?472.
________ "The Relation between the Ego and the Unconscious" CW 7,
esp part 2, chapter 2, "Anima and Animus," pp. 188?211.
Jung, Emma (1957) _Animus and Anima_. New York: Spring
Hillman, James (1985) _Anima: The Anatomy of a Personified
Notion_ Dallas: Spring Publications.
Sanford, John A. (1980). _The Invisable Partners_. New York:
Whitmont, Edward C. (1969)._The Symbolic Quest_. see both the
chapters on "Male and Female" pp. 170?184 and chapter 12 "The
Anima" pp 185?200 and chapter 13 "The Animus" pp 201?215.
Jung: _Psychological Types_ CW 6, esp, chapter 11,
"Definitions," under "Self," pp. 460?461.
________. _Aion_ CW 9, esp, chapter. 4 "The Self," pp. 223-35,
and chapter 5 "Christ, a Symbol of the Self." pp. 36?71.
________. (1957) _The Undiscovered Self_, New York: Mentor
Books. (also as cw 10, p. 247?305)
Edinger, Edwin (1972) Ego And Archetype. Baltimore: Penguin
Whitmont, Edward C. (1969)._The Symbolic Quest_. see both the
chapters on "The Self" pp. 216-230 and chapter 16 "The Ego-Self
Estrangement" pp. 250-264.
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