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The anima and animus, in Carl Jung's school of analytical psychology, are the two primary anthropomorphic archetypes of the unconscious mind, as opposed to both the theriomorphic and 'inferior'-function of the shadow archetypes, as well as the abstract symbol sets that formulate the archetype of the Self. The anima and animus are described by Jung as elements of his theory of the collective unconscious, a domain of the unconscious that transcends the personal psyche. In the unconscious of the male, it finds expression as a feminine inner personality: anima; equivalently, in the unconscious of the female, it is expressed as a masculine inner personality: animus.
It can be identified as the totality of the unconscious feminine psychological qualities that a male possesses; or the masculine ones possessed by the female. The anima is an archetype of the collective unconscious and not an aggregate of a man's mother, sisters, aunts, and teachers though these aspects of the personal unconscious can 'contaminate' the archetypes.
The anima is one of the most significant autonomous complexes of all. It manifests itself by appearing as figures in dreams as well as by influencing a man's interactions with women and his attitudes toward them, and vice versa for females and the animus. Jung said that confronting one's shadow self is an "apprentice-piece", while confronting one's anima is the masterpiece. Jung viewed the anima process as being one of the sources of creative ability.
The Latin root of animus is cognate with Greek anemoi (wind), breath and Sanskrit aniti (he breathes). The root of these and a related cluster of concepts affirms the declaration of Thales: "Everything is full of gods." See psyche, zodiac.
The word anima may come from the Proto-Indo-European language root *ane- ("to breathe"), from which animal and animation also originate.
In the book The Invisible Partners it is said that the key to controlling one's anima (animus) is to recognize it when it manifests and exercise our ability to discern the anima (animus) from reality.
Levels of anima development
Jung believed anima development has four distinct levels, which he named Eve, Helen, Mary, and Sophia. In broad terms, the entire process of anima development in a male 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.
The first is Eve, named for the Genesis account of Adam and Eve. It deals with the emergence of a male's object of desire, yet simultaneously generalizes all females as evil and powerless.
The second is Helen, in allusion to Helen of Troy in Greek mythology. In this phase, women are viewed as capable of worldly success and of being self-reliant, intelligent and insightful, even if not altogether virtuous. This second phase is meant to show a strong schism in external talents (cultivated business and conventional skills) with lacking internal qualities (inability for virtue, lacking faith or imagination).
The third phase is Mary, named for the Christian theological understanding of the Virgin Mary (Jesus' mother). At this level, females can now seem to possess virtue by the perceiving male (even if in an esoteric and dogmatic way), insomuch as certain activities deemed consciously unvirtuous cannot be applied to her.
The fourth and final phase of anima development is Sophia, named for the Greek word for wisdom. Complete integration has now occurred, which allows females to be seen and related to as particular individuals who possess both positive and negative qualities. The most important aspect of this final level is that, as the personification "Wisdom" suggests, the anima is now developed enough that no single object can fully and permanently contain the images to which it is related.
Levels of animus development
Jung focused more on the male's anima and wrote less about the female'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, postulating that women have a host of animus images while the male anima consists only of one dominant image.
Jung stated that there are four parallel levels of Animus development in a female, but only named stage one and three of the animus individuation process: the athlete/muscleman/thug and the professor/cleric — "the planner" and "the guide" are used here for the convenience of the reader. For the former, due to Jung's explanation that "[it] provides a woman with initiative and the capacity for planned action"; and the latter, by him noting that "[i]n mythology, this aspect of the animus appears as Hermes, messenger of the gods; in dreams he is a helpful guide."
Also referred to as the thug or the muscleman, Jung described it as the embodiment of physical power.
This stage embodies the capacity for independence, planned action, and initiative.
Also referred to as the cleric, it embodies "the Word."
Like "Sophia," this is highest level of mediation between the unconscious and conscious mind.
Anima and animus compared
The four roles are not identical with genders reversed. Jung believed that while the anima tended to appear as a single female, the animus usually consisted of multiple male personalities. The process of Animus development deals with cultivating an independent and non-socially subjugated idea of self by embodying a deeper word (as per a specific existential outlook) and manifesting this word. To clarify, this does not mean that a female subject becomes more set in her ways (as this word is steeped in emotionality, subjectivity, and a dynamicism just as a well developed Anima is) but that she is more internally aware of what she believes and feels, and is more capable of expressing these beliefs and feelings.
Both final stages of Animus and Anima development have dynamic qualities (related to the motion and flux of this continual developmental process), open-ended qualities (there is no static perfected ideal or manifestation of the quality in question), and pluralistic qualities (which transcend the need for a singular image, as any subject or object can contain multiple archetypes or even seemingly antithetical roles).
- Jung, Carl. The Psychology of the Unconscious, Dvir Co., Ltd., Tel-Aviv, 1973 (originally 1917)
- The Invisible Partners: How the Male and Female in Each of Us Affects Our Relationships by John A. Sanford (Paperback - Jan 1, 1979)
- Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism website
- Sample image with scholarly commentary: Hall of the Bulls at Lascaux
- Jung on the anima and animus
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