Discovering my Own Animus
How I discovered my own Animus (for Carl Gustav Jung the male side inside a woman’s psyche).
The strength and the energy a man can give a woman and which makes her unstoppable.
More than falling in love
Love at first sight. A fatal attraction, a feeling of involvement that affects the whole being, its physical, mental, emotional, spiritual sides. The feeling of finding a soul-mate. Feeling suddenly “alive”. The awakening of Eros. Here’s what I experienced seeing Brian Molko and that’s what my friend Sally experienced seeing Darren.
What is this attraction? The most fascinating state of mind, love. Why does it happen? Why that person and not another one? I was wondering why Brian? … What does he have that others do not?
Other times I just mentioned that my morbid interest in Brian Molko and Placebo’s music was the motivating factor that pushed me into psychology. Since the very first time that I had contact with his figure, though everything in my mind was confused, I was sure of only one thing: he put me in front of a clear and evident “myself “ that instead I wasn’t able to see.
you feel he is a soulmate
It was not about projections, that is, I didn’t project upon him the contents of my psyche in terms of desires or expectations or beliefs and prejudices. It was different, he was really the man I had ever dreamed and he was incredibly similar to me.
The soulmate of which the mythology speaks, the other part of oneself.
How true, and it was like I met myself and also as I met the other part I needed to feel truly complete.
I started reading about psychology and psychoanalysis in order to understand the nature of the intense bond with this musician and so I understood, reading something by Jung, that I had met in Brian my Animus.
The Anima and the Animus
A side of our personalities includes the role of male or female that has been given us. For most people this role is determined by the physical gender, but Jung, like Freud, Adler and others, believes that we are all bisexual in nature. When we begin to live as a fetus we have undifferentiated sex organs that only gradually, under the influence of hormones, become male or female. When we begin the social life as children we are neither male or female in a social sense. Almost immediately parents begin to dress us in pink or blue and gradually we model as females or males.
In all the societies the expectations on men and women differ usually based on the different roles of the reproduction but with different details that are part of the tradition. It is expected from women to be less aggressive and maternal and from men to be strong and emotionless.
Jung, however, rightly felt that these expectations do not allow the full development of all our potential. We can develop all the male and female potential in the same subject, but traditionally we are given a role that develops only half the potential, the male or female one.
Masculine and feminine
When we speak of masculine and feminine, psychological qualities or principles are meant. Male is generally the active, feminine the passive, without any connotation of negative judgment. No principle is better, they both need the other to work.
According to Jung, Anima is the feminine aspect present in the unconscious of man, and Animus is the male aspect present in the unconscious of woman. Together they form the divine couple, the syzygy. The Anima may be represented in dreams by a young woman, for example, or a witch or mother earth. The Animus may be personified, among others, as a wise old man, a sorcerer, a group of men.
These two archetypes are mostly responsible for our love lives. As suggested by a Greek myth, we are always looking for our half (the one that gods have cut to us) in the members of the opposite sex. When we fall in love we have found someone who matches particularly well our Animus or our Anima.
The roots of Animus
Animus represents the male, then action, but also spirit, reason and logic.
The Animus is therefore the man inside the woman. Physically, a woman is female. As we said above, psychologically a woman can express only some of her potential in everyday life. In a woman the most dynamic, intellectual and self-assertive side is not fully expressed, as well as creativity and rational thought are kept hidden.
The Animus has three roots: the collective image of Man that a woman acquires, her experience with the men in her life, the male principles latent in her.
In general we can say that the man in a woman’s dreams and fantasies is her social and mental power, her ability to act actively in the world. The Animus is also an expression of her feelings towards the man, matured through experiences with men and especially through the relationship with her father. Ultimately the Animus represents the synthesis of her experience of contact with the “male”.
The Animus can be wonderfully creative or powerfully destructive, depending on the relationship that a woman has with men.
When it highlights “complexes” in the woman’s experience with men, the Animus is manifested in her dreams and fantasies as a man who imprisons, that seduces the woman but only to lead her in distress or to torture her, in general as a negative figure.
Positive or negative Animus
The positive Animus appears instead as the man who solves problems, shows wisdom and true love, appears as a savior, a deliverer from death itself.
The negative or not integrated Animus leads a woman into destructive relationships with herself and with others.
Sometimes the Animus appears as a collection of phrases and opinions learned during the childhood that are built as prejudices and preconceptions, limiting and judgmental, and that a woman uses in her dealing with herself and with others. Often the negative relationship with the father is the cause of an inferiority complex.
When Animus is integrated
If it is integrated, the Animus may appear in dreams as a heroic or spiritual male figure.
Men who help, act as guides or images of the sage who gives advice are symbols of an integrated animus. Dreams of masked men, foreigners who invade home, men’s groups, gangs are images of a not integrated Animus.
The good relationship with the Animus shows that a woman is able to integrate her ability to be independent, her masculine qualities. It also means that a woman begins to review the experience with her father in a different way, in order to heal the wounds.
The integrated Animus in fact refers to the woman’s ability to see positively her being male, identifying and associating with it. When a woman stops projecting the male in herself on other men, she begins to integrate the Animus.
As active principle the Animus gives a woman the ability to use her creativity transforming intuitive ideas into reality. Animus’s integration is crucial for self-realization.
The integrated Animus is the best ally of women. Women with a high degree of Animus’s integration receive intuitive impulses and act wisely. The integrated Animus tells a woman that she is unstoppable. It encourages her to realize her dreams. The integrated Animus makes a woman powerful with assertiveness, courage, analytical thinking, strength, vitality, decision focus and desire to succeed.
Is it easy to integrate Animus?
The degree of difficulty that a woman has in integrating the Animus corresponds directly to the difficulty in relationships with men with whom she has had bad experiences from childhood. Meeting monstrous men create images of monstrous men inside. When not integrated, but denied or repressed, it acts as a monster, possesses the psyche and acts as a saboteur. Then woman shows aggression, brutality, authoritarianism. The Animus becomes a repository of all the perverse male principles.
The way Anima and Animus work can become self-conscious but the archetypes are unconscious and independent elements; to become aware of them, however, helps to integrate them.
Anima and Animus are for Jung mediators between the conscious and the unconscious.
My relationship with “male”
As Jung says, in my Animus, that is the male within myself, elements of traditional culture converge, for example that male equals strength, courage, violence. Male is pungent and sharp, acute, intelligent, logical, tough, adventurous.
Together with them there are my personal experiences with the male world, starting with my father and my brother. In this case the male within myself is not positive, because one of those which Jung called complexes has been built around the experiences with my father’s figure. A series of negative experiences were combined resulting in negative emotions and negative beliefs, prejudices, fears and anything negative both against the “male” gender as against myself.
This dominant father’s figure is in fact authoritarian, judgmental, restrictive. He didn’t help me to grow, he prevented me from expressing myself, he has created a climate of fear in myself. Of course I understood that it is normal, as a result of this attitude of fear and prejudice, that all my consequent experiences of “the man” were negative, similar to the original, almost stretched to confirm it, despite myself.
Assagioli’s first psychological law
Of that, there is an explanation in the Assagioli’s first psychological law. “The images or mental pictures and ideas tend to produce the physical conditions and the external acts corresponding to them.” The ideas tend to turn into reality, and also the law of attraction, so popular today, speaks widely of that.
But within myself there is also another man, which expresses in a positive way and represents my “ideal” man, everything I ever wanted and was not. Jung says that the moment a woman begins the Animus’s process of integration into her psyche, then the healing of its negative aspects occurs.
I haven’t seen in Brian “my experience of male”, in fact I thought he was not a man like everyone else. I saw in him what was my “aspiration” to the male, a need or desire not satisfied.
If my experience of “male” has been negative, where my desire to “ideal male” comes from? Is it merely an expression of my desire for integration?
My positive Animus
The Animus has begun to manifest in myself exactly as described by Jung. It was a positive Animus, no doubt.
Brian appeared in my fantasies and my daydreams as the spiritual leader, a good person who could save me from trouble, a pure, clear, honest, authentic man. Not a guru, but a authoritative man albeit fragile, of whom I was not afraid but felt total and unconditional trust.
I think I can say that these traits of his character as I set out really belong to him, as one can understand from the admiration of his fans, but probably to some extent I have projected onto him my positive Animus. The two aspects, reality and projection, are confused and end up putting me back in sophistry. Does the objective reality really exist? Isn’t it always filtered by our own thoughts? Don’t we see in the other largely what we like to see or it is similar to us or what we expect to see?
Searching an “ideal man”
So, that Brian is indeed an authentic man or that I have noticed in him his authenticity, that he is really my guide, or that I have projected on him the role, all ends up having no more importance. He is “the guide” for me. I see in him what I need to overcome the father complex, to enable the integration, the “ideal male”, the spiritual figure in the broadest sense, the guru, the teacher. Perhaps in this process another archetype has also been enabled, the wise old man’s one, or the guru, who intervenes with guidance.
The figure of the ideal male is not only spiritual. Brian continues to involve me at all levels, including the sexual one, which still seems normal, while the novelty of spiritual involvement, due to his functions of guidance and assistance in the process of personal growth, is more evident. With his guidance I feel strong and unstoppable, this is true.
Integrating the male in myself has meant overcoming the complex originated from the father?
Where do these aspirations to the ideal male come from? I can only assume that in addition to my experiences of men, tied to my childhood, in this hypothetical container called “archetype” there are also experience, which are part of the collective unconscious, of great wise men like Jesus, Buddha, knights and other myths that my subconscious has used to express itself.
In fact I think I can say that the “ideal male” I saw in Brian, who is within me, which is a part of my Animus, and that made me fall in love, is exactly the opposite of my negative Animus, the concentration of negative male figures who helped create my inferiority complex.
In other words, where the male figure in childhood and adolescence has blocked the needs and aspirations left unfinished and dormant, another ideal male figure provides to satisfy them.
When my real father left unsatisfied my needs for growth, independence, autonomy, self-esteem, assertiveness, creativity, expression, adventure, happiness and victory, my unconscious kept them as a hidden treasure waiting for someone to meet them. When I happened to meet the man of my dreams a spark activated that made me believe that yes, he was the man who could satisfy me deeply.
The encounter, though with a person with whom you are unlikely to have a real relationship, or a person from the past, actives the positive Animus and begins a relentless process of self growth and self-integration, which is also a self-healing process.
A self healing process
I believe that the encounter with the Animus is not at all by chance, but it happens in a very specific time of the individuation process, as Jung himself had postulated. It is an encounter we need and we attract into our lives, as we attracted only negative experiences when we were dominated by the negative Animus.
An encounter that ultimately is useful to develop within us the positive side we need, widening it more and more with the help of the man we fall in love, and that will oppose and obscure the negative Animus, which will be always present but will often remain inactive.
The process of individuation is a process of self-realization which consists in the full integration of the contents of the psyche related to the conscious, the personal and the collective unconscious. To integrate them means one becomes aware and accepts them. It’s an experience that Jung describes as the search and the discovery of the divine in oneself and of the wholeness of Being.
The process of individuation
Once a person has accepted his/her unconscious contents, which normally is not accepted or denied, the individual has reached the goal of the individuation process that is to be what one is, a unique individual one who is in reality.
The process cannot be stimulated from the outside, but comes from within. It starts becoming aware of the Persona, the mask that we carry every day, the role we must play to be connected and accepted by the society to which we belong. The mask gives others a sense of ourselves, but hides the true nature of the person.
Second step of individuation process
To become conscious of the Shadow is the second step. The Shadow gathers all the tendencies, negative energies, impulses, emotions and desires that are incompatible with the civilization in which we live and for that reason we deny and remove. The Shadow is a collective phenomenon, too. We tend to project our negative tendencies on the other. We do not see them in us, but we see them in others. The devil represents the negative tendencies of all mankind. The Shadow within us is the cause of conflicts and wars.
Another stage is, as already seen, becoming conscious of the Anima or Animus.
The fourth step is to become aware of the spiritual archetypes that Jung called “mana” personalities, meaning with extraordinary powers. A man could manifest the archetype of the wise old man, a woman the one of the Mother Earth.
Union of opposites
The process of identification often appears as a union of opposites. In the phase of the Shadow, good and evil merge until one sees the man capable of both and accepts them. Then one learns to see both the male and female in her/himself. Finally we have the union between matter and spirit, body and psyche. This phase includes the liberation of man from the father and of woman from mother to attain true individuality.
Finally, the process leads to find the divinity within oneself, to become a center of self-awareness, to become aware of the Self.