Anima and animus: Jungian archetypes of the Collective Unconscious (Part 1)
In nature, all things are known to exhibit a state of polarity; the Yin being just as imperative as the Yang in retaining the delicate thread of fate and freedom.
This inherent contrariness is also imitated by the human race, directing the birth of archetypal imagery - the anima, thus, articulates the essence of feminine potency within a man, and the manhood associated with female psyche proves to be the work of Animus.
“The ‘soul’ which accrues to ego-consciousness during the opus has a feminine character in the man and a masculine character in a woman. His anima wants to reconcile and unite; her animus tries to discern and discriminate.”
With every inch of depth instilled into the unconscious, it is made yet more universal and material; hence, at bottom the psyche is simply “world”.
Distinction from the Shadow archetype
Unlike the malignant nature of shadow which takes its birth from the denial by one’s ego, essentially; anima and animus, originated from the theory of individuation, are elements whose core value is only benefactory despite their association with the unconscious mind.
In truth, these archetypal factors behave like a double-edged sword, with having as much potential of granting resurrection to the Self, as their power to blow the trumpet on doomsday.
However, often it happens that an individual fails to recognize the polarity inherent in his nature, when a warrior man denies his love for kittens or when a woman refuses to speak her truth. In doing so, a fanatical and despotic bearing becomes the man’s fate; he is disliked in gatherings and secretly detested by his children, and the lady gets puppeted around for devious means.
To obey the law of polarity, the outwardness of these individuals must be compensated for. As a result, their subconscious mind learns to follow a serpentine path and thus, this muscular man makes an imbecile of himself in emotional matters, and venomous musings come out of the lady’s mouth.
“The tyrant tormented by bad dreams, gloomy forebodings, and inner fears is a typical figure. Outwardly ruthless, harsh, and unapproachable, he jumps inwardly at every shadow, is at the mercy of every mood, as though he were the feeblest and most impressionable of men. Thus, his anima contains all those fallible human qualities his persona lacks. If the persona is intellectual, the anima will certainly be sentimental.”
The purpose ordained to anima and animus
Transcending the personal psyche, these elements represent the collective unconscious of mankind and provide a curious balance to this rational world.
The said postulate is proven true whenever a father sobs at the sight of his son, astray by corrupt influences, and the force that gives strength to the Women’s March is, in fact, a sacred dance performed by these archetypes.
“The unconscious as we know can never be ‘done with’ once and for all. It is, in fact, one of the most important tasks of psychic hygiene to pay continual attention to the symptomatology of unconscious contents and processes, for the good reason that the conscious mind is always in danger of becoming one-sided, of keeping to well-worn paths and getting stuck in blind alleys. The complementary and compensating function of the unconscious ensures that these dangers, which are especially great in neurosis, can in some measure be avoided.”
Imprint on the archetype by parental figures
Despite having a transpersonal/ universal label, these archetypes are also greatly affected by environmental influence, as is represented in Freud’s Oedipus Complex.
This influence makes its rapid progress, predominantly by parental figures or by way of surrogacy. The young boy’s libido gets directed towards its mother; she is the ideal image, the protector and the generous provider in whose bosom the child blooms. In consequence, his anima is shaped up under the thumb of his mother, and later on in adult life — If this fact is not realized and the appropriate sacrifice not made, he will continue to seek for his ‘Mother Imago’ in every relationship he stumbles across, projecting his anima onto his potential partners, thus heading for an obvious disaster.
“The psychological priority in the first half of life is for a man to free himself from the anima fascination of the mother. In later life, the lack of a conscious relationship with the anima is attended by symptoms characteristic of “loss of soul.”
Unlike the anima whose developmental initiative is mostly the child’s mother; animus owes its growth to numerous male figures. For this reason, the belly of animus carries a relatively more complex seed than that of its counterpart.