Persona. ("actor's mask" in Latin). From James Hall: "One's
social role, derived from the expectations of society and early training. A
strong ego relates to the outside world through a flexible persona;
identification with a specific personal (doctor, scholar, artist, etc) inhibits
psychological development." (Hall p. 121)
Jung felt that our ego identity, who we feel and thing we are, rises as
children from a vast unconscious sea, first in little islands and soon with a
feeling of individuality. As the Jungians say, we rise from the Great Mother.
Now this little new identity thinks and feels that it is separate and unique
from the mother, but is in fact, quite dependent upon others for its survival.
The haughtiness carries on, even through adolescence when individuality asserts
itself more forcefully, but again, is usually still very dependent.
One way of looking at who we are is to look at the role we take in the world,
our persona. At first it might be good child, bad child, son who is clean,
daughter who helps mother, brother, sister, friend and so on. We come to know
ourselves and others through these roles. But we also know there is more than
just these roles and understand there is a difference between our persona roles
and our self. When someone forgets this difference , we feel treated by them as
less than human, like we are part of a inhuman act or play.
Anyway, this little ego not only has roles, but begins to develop and favor
certain patterns of attitude, style and behavior, while neglecting others. Jung
liked to look at this development in two basic attitudes, introversion and
extroversion. The extrovert, like the rabbit in nature, survives through mating
and multiplication and manipulation. The attention of the extrovert is on how
they are affecting the world. The introvert survives in nature like the
tortoise, though turning inward, changing itself rather than the environment.
The attention of the introvert is on how the world is affecting them.
Jung also like to see the ego as favoring certain ways of functioning and
used a binary opposite four system topology, Intuition vs. Sensation, and
Thinking vs. Feeling. He originally felt that if one favored one style of
perception and judgment, the opposite would be undeveloped, and hence some
people get by in life by being thoughtful and others by using emotional means,
others by just staying busy. These functions are now very popular in mainstream
culture and lots of books have been written recently on using the system which
becomes quite complex when you consider that each function has two attitudes.
Thus one may favor Introverted Intuitive styles while another may favor
Extroverted Thinking styles making for eight different basic types. If you are
interested in what type you are, you can take a quick test by searching online
for the most popular of the Jungian types personality indicators, the
Meyers-Briggs. There is also the Singer-Loomis personality test which is a more
fair test of all the functions, but less well known. Note that the tests online
or scoring tests yourself may be inaccurate. Analysts and specialists spend some
time learning to interpret these tests.
For our purposes here of looking quickly into how dreams and personality connect
in Jungian theory, I just want to generally lay out the role of personality in
the process of individuation as the Jungians see, and how its important in
finding the doorway inward through the least used parts of our personality. The
least used function is called the "inferior function" and is usually
not under the conscious control of the individual. Thus a thinking person may
very easily have hurt feelings, but feeling will always seem like its something
to a thinking person that *happens* to them. A feeling type *uses* feelings
achieve what they desire. If you are an intuitive in an airport and someone
comes up and speaks to you in an foreign language, you will probably try to
understand what the person is saying. Any sensate type would immediately get
someone to translate, not spending a second trying to make meaning out of
something they don't understand. Difference in styles.
For our purpose here in dream work land, we are going to turn this whole game
around an use it to look at the persona (masks) personalities in our dreams
rather than seeking to find our waking personality types. We are going to assume
that there is almost *always* a persona level to a dream and we can approach
this level by choice and read the dream for insight into our own masks.
EXERCISE: Persona. Read a dream *for* persona issues. When a dream is about
clothes and problems with appearance, its easy to see the persona issues, but I
want to suggest that *all* dreams have a persona level and can be read as such.
Pretend the dream is a play. Note the way the curtain opens, (how the dream
starts) what kind of drama is unfolded (Comedy, Tragedy, Mystery, Horror,
Sit-Com) and the way characters enter and exit the dream stage. Note what
everyone is wearing and what this indicates about them. Are they wearing leisure
clothes, business clothes, sports clothes? Or is your awareness of what's being
worn missing altogether? How "into" the roles are the dream
characters? In other words, is the policeman in the dream somewhat aware that he
*has* a policeman's job or is he completely absorbed in this job & role and
there is no chance of relating to him as a person? What are the dream characters
up to on a surface level? Are people going to work, are they just hanging out,
are they looking for fun, are they unaware of what they are after? Are the
people in the dream everyday friends and family, unknown people or famous
personages? What are your dream character=s personality strengths and
weaknesses? Who favors their rational intellect, which characters favor feeling?
Which characters just do things without thinking, which characters seem to have
an instantaneous intuitive grasp of the moment?
These persona and masks and roles are a wonderful and complex network and
gauge of our relationship to the world, to the family and even to ourselves.
They form the bright side we offer to others that they can count on. The are the
vehicles that allow us to travel and move around without constantly crashing
into others. True, if we confuse our roles with who we really are there can some
real stagnation and problems. (note the Eichmann trial where in Nazi Germany he
was "just doing his job"). But its also a disaster is our persona is
not developed. Its very difficult to move around in our world when other's can't
readily recognize the roles you offer. If you have ever been a job interview in
an area where you have little development, this lack of persona development can
quickly and anxiously be felt.
Because the persona takes time to develop, one must make choices. When we are
young we choose to develop the good girl instead of the bad girl. Perhaps we get
rewarded for a talent we have in fixing things and begin to develop this
ability. We might find we can cope better in our home by shutting the emotions
of the parents away and being creative in our own world. Each of these choices
leaves behind them a shadow.
What type are you?
Psychological Types, CW 6, esp chap. 11, "Definitions," under
"Ego," p 425. Aion, CW 9, II, esp. chap 1"The Ego" pp. 3-7
"On the Nture of the Psyche," CW 8, pp. 159?234.
"Child Development and Education," CW 17, pp. 49?62.
_Ego & Archetype_ by Edward Edinger. 1972, Baltimore:Penguin Books.
Neumann, Erich (1954) The _Origins and History of onsciousness_. Princeton
:Princeton University Press.
Psychological Types, CW 6, chap 6, Chap 10, "General Description of the
Types" pp. 330?407.
Keirsey, David & Bates, Marilyn (1984), Please Understand Me_ Character
Tempermaent and Types. Del Mar, CA:
Gnosology Books, ltd.
Sharp, Daryl, (1987). personality Types: Jung's model of Typology. Toronto:
Innter City Books, 1987. Shadow:
Psychological Types, CW 6, esp, chapter 11, "Definitions," under
"Soul (psyche, personality, persona, anima)" pp. 463-470.