The Animus: The man within

(The) animus does not so often appear in the form of an erotic fantasy or mood; it is more apt to take the form of a hidden “sacred” conviction.  When such a conviction is preached with a loud, insistent, masculine voice or imposed on others by means of brutal emotional scenes, the underlying masculinity in a woman is easily recognized.  M&HS 198

One of the favourite themes that the animus repeats endlessly in the ruminations of this kind of woman goes like this:  “The only thing in the world that I want is love – and he doesn’t love me”; or “In this situation there are only two possibilities – and both are equally bad.”  (The animus never believes in exceptions.)  One can rarely contradict an animus opinion because it is usually right in a general way; yet it seldom seems to fit the individual situation.  M&HS 199

A strange passivity and paralysis of all feeling, or a deep insecurity that can lead almost to a sense of nullity, may sometimes be the result of an unconscious animus opinion.  In the depths of the woman’s being, the animus whispers:  “You are hopeless.  What’s the use of trying?  There is no point in doing anything.  Life will never change for the better.”  M&HS 202

Cont’d … Unfortunately, when one of these personifications of the unconscious takes possession of our mind, it seems as if we ourselves are having such thoughts and feelings.  The ego identifies with them to the point where it is unable to detach them and see them for what they are.  One is really “possessed” by the figure from the unconscious.  Only after the possession has fallen away does one realize with horror that one has said and done things diametrically opposed to one’s real thoughts and feelings – that one has been the prey of an alien psychic factor.  M&HS 203

(The) animus often appears as a group of men.  In this way the unconscious symbolizes the fact that the animus represents a collective rather than a personal element.  Because of this collective-mindedness women habitually refer (when their animus is speaking through them) to “one” or “they” or “everybody,” and in such circumstances their speech frequently contains the worlds “always” and “should” and “ought.” 

A vast number of myths and fairy tales tell of a prince, turned by witchcraft into a wild animal or monster, who is redeemed by the love of a girl – a process symbolizing the manner in which the animus becomes conscious.  Very often the heroine is not allowed to ask questions about her mysterious, unknown lover and husband; or she meets him only in the dark and may never look at him.  The implication is that, by blindly trusting and loving him she will be able to redeem her bridegroom.  But this never succeeds.  She always breaks her promise and finally finds her lover again only after a long, difficult quest and much suffering.  M&HS 206

The parallel in life is that the conscious attention a woman has to give to her animus problem takes much time and involves a lot of suffering.  But if she realizes who and what her animus is and what he does to her, and if she faces these realities instead of allowing herself to be possessed, her animus can turn into an invaluable inner companion who endows her with the masculine qualities of initiative, courage, objectivity, and spiritual wisdom.  M&HS 206

The animus, just like the anima, exhibits four stages of development.  He first appears as a personification of mere physical power – for instance, as an athletic champion or “muscle man.”  In the next stage he possesses initiative and the capacity for planned action.  In the third phase, the animus becomes the “word,” often appearing as a professor or clergyman.  Finally, in his fourth manifestation, the animus is the incarnation of meaning.  On this highest level he becomes (like the anima) a mediator of the religious experience whereby life acquires new meaning.  He gives the woman spiritual firmness, an invisible inner support that compensates for her outer softness.  The animus in his most developed form sometimes connects the woman’s mind with the spiritual evolution of her age, and can thereby make her even more receptive than a man to new creative ideas.  It is for this reason that in earlier times women were used by many nations as diviners and seers.  The creative boldness of their positive animus at times expresses thoughts and ideas that stimulate men to new enterprises.  M&HS 207

The “inner man” within a woman’s psyche can lead to marital troubles similar to those mentioned in the section on the anima.  What makes things especially complicated is the fact that the possession of one partner by the animus (or anima) may automatically exert such an irritating effect upon the other that he (or she) becomes possesses too.  Animus and anima always tend to drag conversation down to a very low level and to produce a disagreeable, irascible, emotional atmosphere.  M&HS 207

As I mentioned before, the positive side of the animus can personify an enterprising spirit, courage, truthfulness, and in the highest form, spiritual profundity.  Through him a woman can experience the underlying processes of her cultural and personal objective situation, and can find her way to an intensified spiritual attitude in life.  This naturally presupposes that her animus ceases to represent opinions that are above criticism.  The woman must find the courage and inner broadmindedness to question the sacredness of her own convictions.  Only then will she be able to take in the suggestions of the unconscious, especially when they contradict her animus opinions.  Only then will the manifestations of the Self get through to her, and will she be able consciously to understand their meaning.  M&HS 207