Anima: The man within

The anima is a personification of all feminine psychological tendencies in a man’s psyche, such as vague feelings and moods, prophetic hunches, receptiveness to the irrational, capacity for personal love, feeling for nature, and last but not least – his relation to the unconscious.   M&HS 186

In its individual manifestation the character of a man’s anima is as a rule shaped by his mother.  If he feels that his mother had a negative influence on him, his anima will often express itself in irritable, depressed moods, uncertainty, insecurity, and touchiness.  (If, however he is able to overcome the negative assaults on himself, they can serve to reinforce his masculinity.)  M&HS 186

 Within the soul of such a man the negative mother-anima figure will endlessly repeat this theme:  “I am nothing.  Nothing makes any sense.  With others it’s different, but for me … I enjoy nothing.”  These “anima moods” cause a sort of dullness, a fear of disease, of impotence, or of accidents.  The whole of life takes on a sad and oppressive aspect.  M&HS 187

Another way in which the negative anima in a man’s personality can be revealed is in his waspish, poisonous, effeminate remarks by which he devalues everything.  Remarks of this sort always contain a cheap twisting of the truth and are in a subtle way destructive.  M&HS 190

If, on the other hand, a man’s experience of his mother has been positive, this can also affect his anima in typical but different ways, with the result that he either becomes effeminate or is preyed upon by women and thus is unable to cope with the hardships of life.  An anima of this sort can turn men into sentimentalists, or they may become as touchy as old maids or as sensitive as the fairy-tale princess who could feel a pea under 30 mattresses.  M&HS 190

A still more subtle manifestation of a negative anima appears in some fairy tales in the form of a princess who asks her suitors to answer a series of riddles or, perhaps, to hide themselves under her nose.  If they cannot give the answers, or if she can find them, they must die – and she invariably wins.  The anima in this guise involves men in a destructive intellectual game.  We can notice the effect of this anima trick in all those neurotic pseudo-intellectual dialogues that inhibit a man from getting into direct touch with life and its real decisions.  He reflects about life so much that he cannot live it and loses all his spontaneity and outgoing feeling.  M&HS 191

(Porn)  The most frequent manifestations of the anima takes the form of erotic fantasy.  Men may be driven to nurse their fantasies by looking at films (etc.).  This is a crude, primitive aspect of the anima, which becomes compulsive only when a man does not sufficiently cultivate his feeling relationships – when his feeling attitude toward life has remained infantile.  M&HS 191

All these aspects of the anima have the same tendency that we have observed in the shadow:  That is, they can be projected so that they appear to the man to be the anima that causes a man to fall suddenly in love when he sees a woman for the first time and knows at once that this is “she.”  In this situation, the man feels as if he has known this woman intimately for all time; he falls for her so helplessly that it looks to outsiders like complete madness.  Women who are of “fairy-like” character especially attract such anima projections, because men can attribute almost anything to a creature who is so fascinatingly vague, and can thus proceed to weave fantasies around her.  M&HS 191

The projection of the anima in such a sudden and passionate form as a love affair can greatly disturb a man’s marriage and can lead to the so-called “human triangle,” with its accompanying difficulties.  A bearable solution to such a drama can be found only if the anima is recognized as an inner power.  The secret aim of the unconscious in bringing about such an entanglement is to force a man to develop and to bring his own being to maturity by integrating more of his unconscious personality and bringing it into his real life.  M&HS 191

There are just as many important positive aspects (of the anima).  The anima is, for instance, responsible for the fact that a man is able to find the right marriage partner.  Another function is at least equally important:  Whenever a man’s logical mind is incapable of discerning facts that are hidden in his unconscious, the anima helps him to dig them out.  Even more vital is the role that the anima plays in putting a man’s mind in tune with the right inner values and thereby opening the way into more profound inner depths.  It is as if an inner “radio” becomes tuned to a certain wave length that excludes irrelevancies but allows the voice of the Great Man to be heard.  In establishing this inner “radio” reception, the anima takes on the role of guide, or mediator, to the world within and to the Self.  M&HS 193

(in her proper positive role) the anima is a mediator between the ego and the Self.  M&HS 195

The number four is also connected with the anima because, as Jung noted, there are four stages in its development.  The first state is best symbolized by the figure of Eve, which represents purely instinctual and biological relations.  The second can be seen in Faust’s Helen:  She personifies a romantic and aesthetic level that is, however, still characterized by sexual elements.  The third is represented, for instance, by the Virgin Mary – a figure who raises love (eros) to the heights of spiritual devotion.  The fourth type is symbolized by Sapienta, wisdom transcending even the most holy and the most pure.  Of this another symbol is the Shulamite in the Song of Solomon.  (In the psychic development of modern man this stage is rarely reached.  The Mona Lisa comes nearest to such a wisdom anima.)  M&HS 195

In the Middle Ages there took place a perceptible spiritual differentiation in religious, poetical, and other cultural matters; and the fantasy world of the unconscious was recognized more clearly than before.  During this period, the knightly cult of the lady signified an attempt to differentiate the feminine side of man’s nature in regard to the outer woman as well as in relation to the inner world.  The lady to whose service the knight pledged himself, and for whom he performed his heroic deeds, was naturally a personification of the anima. 

Worship of the anima as an officially recognized figure brings the serious disadvantage that she loses her individual aspects.  On the other hand, if she is regarded as an exclusively personal being, there is the danger that, if she is projected into the outer world, it is only there that she can be found.  This latter state of affairs can create endless trouble, because man becomes either the victim of his erotic fantasies or compulsively dependent on one actual woman.  M&HS 198

Only the painful (but essentially simple) decision to take one’s fantasies and feelings seriously can at this stage prevent a complete stagnation of the inner process of individuation, because only in this way can a man discover what this figure means as an inner reality.  Thus the anima becomes again what she originally was – the “woman within,” who conveys vital messages of the Self.  M&HS 198