ANIMA/ANIMUS: the archetype of contrasexuality

Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness (Princeton University Press, 1954) xxii n. 7:

It is in this sense that we use the terms "masculine" and "feminine" throughout the book, not as personal sex-linked characteristics, but as symbolic expressions. . . . The symbolism of "masculine" and "feminine" is archetypal and therefore transpersonal; in the various cultures concerned, it is erroneously projected upon persons as though they carried its qualities. In reality every individual is a psychological hybrid. . . . . [I]t is one of the complications of individual psychology that in all cultures the integrity of the personality is violated when it is identified with either the masculine or the feminine side of the symbolic principle of opposites.

The Anima is the personification of all feminine psychological tendencies within a man, the archetypal feminine symbolism within a man's unconscious. The Animus is the personification of all masculine psychological tendencies within a woman, the archetypal masculine symbolism within a woman's unconscious.

The anima and animus draw their power especially from the collective unconscious, but they are also conditioned by a person's individual experiences. They therefore have three components:

Symbolism in Dreams and Narratives: a peer figure of the opposite sex to the ego-bearer to whom he/she has a strong and compelling tie or bond (often a lover, brother/sister, soul-mate). Jung said that the animus is more likely to be personified by multiple male figures, while the anima is frequently a single female.

Anima Projection: The unindividuated man identifies with those personal qualities that are symbolically masculine; he develops these potentialities and to some extent integrates their unconcious influences into his conscious personality. However, he does not recognize qualities that are symbolically feminine as part of his own personality but rather projects them onto women. He will project his anima—those particular characteristics and potentialities that are significant components of his personal unconscious and therefore carry a special emotional charge—onto a few women for whom he will then feel a strong and compelling emotion (usually positive but occasionally negative). Infatuation (an instant, powerful attraction for a woman about whom he knows little) is one of the signs of anima projection, as is a compulsive possessiveness.

anima projection

Animus Projection: The unindividuated woman identifies with those personal qualities that are symbolically feminine; she develops these potentialities and to some extent integrates their unconcious influences into her conscious personality. However, she does not recognize qualities that are symbolically masculine as part of her own personality but rather projects them onto men. She will project her animus—those particular characteristics and potentialities that are significant components of her personal unconscious and therefore carry a special emotional charge—onto a few men for whom she will then feel a strong and compelling emotion (usually positive but occasionally negative). Infatuation (an instant, powerful attraction for a man about whom she knows little) is one of the signs of animus projection, as is a compulsive possessiveness.

animus projection

Anima Possession: Since the unindividuated man has not consciously developed any of his symbolically feminine qualities (e.g. emotion, need for relatedness), his personality is apt to be taken over or "possessed" by these qualities at times, so that his emotional behavior and relationships may be acted out in childish and immature ways that are apparent to others but not to him.

anima possession

Animus Possession: Since the unindividuated woman has not consciously developed any of her symbolically masculine qualities (e.g. logic, leadership, need for independence), her personality is apt to be taken over or "possessed" by these qualities at times, so that she appears opinionated, argumentative, or domineering to others, though she will not think of herself that way. In the words of Jung, "[J]ust as the anima of a man consists of inferior relatedness, full of affect, so the animus of woman consists of inferior judgments, or better, opinions." Alchemical Studies: The Secret of the Golden Flower (CW 13, par.60). Click here for this and other quotes from Jung about the animus, and here for quotes on the anima.

animus possession

Anima/Animus Integration: We can avoid anima/animus possession and withdraw projections by integrating the contrasexual archetype into consciousness, realizing we are cutting off our human potential by recognizing and developing only those symbolic qualities that match the sex of our bodies. In the words of Demaris Wehr, the anima leads a man "into unexplored depths of feeling, relationship, and sensitivity. . . . the integrated animus leads a woman into the world of the spirit, erudition, and the power of the word" (66-67). Integration of the Anima/Animus is often termed Androgyny. It is symbolized in narratives through achievement of a special bond (frequently sexual union/marriage) between the ego-bearer and the anima/animus figure.

androgyny

February, 1999
Barbara F. McManus
Proceed to Self
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