Cultural stereotype and constraint in psychological progression:
Jung believed that there is a partial spirit of behaviour manifesting themselves in people’s behaviour. The contra-sexual characteristics, temperament and attitudes of opposite-sex by virtue of living togethers for centuries.
The “anima” is the female inside the male and the “animus” is the male inside the female which he believed is nested inside the shadow/unconscious. The capacity for true compassion and care could be develop in men if they could find that ability within them which they have pushed away in the shadow/unconscious. And women could find the capacity to be forceful and assertive within them and that part of their potential was thrown out in the shadows/unconscious during their course of development because of a priori categorization as an inappropriate behaviour.
For a male in a rigidly gender stratified society he needs to suppress and as a consequences fail to develop those elements of their character that might be traditionally considered as feminine and equally it is difficult for a woman to develop and express those aspects of their personality that might be traditionally considered as masculine. If we do begin to develop such behaviour in a conventional society, it is likely that we receive backlashes from society. And in order to avoid such a situation that will stimulate unpleasant emotion, people repress their potential of psychological progression in the unconscious.
Normally both the archetypes are always present but are often kept unconscious because they are difficult to reconcile with our conscious existence as a male and female. In a strictly stereotypical society, children have been taught to behave in certain ways that goes in concordance with their sex identity. And if we believe with the idea that men and women belong to two rigid categories of behaviour, thought, action and ethics then the idea of masculine and feminine categories are then so taken for granted that the terms like “boys are boys” and “after all she is a girl” become so natural that we began to believe it as a divinely preordained plan of creation.
As a consequence, it undermines the psychological development on part of each sexes which then remain dull and lifeless and weaken the capacity to develop as a full blown mature individual. But these opposite tendencies lie dormant in one’s unconscious which is essential to bring into the conscious territory so that one can keep under control the negative aspects and make use of the positive masculine and feminine traits.
Jung believed that by manifesting these archetypes that remain latent in the unconscious, each sex would enables one sex to understand the nature of the other sex. And this necessity of integration of the unconscious content by bringing them to conscious territory is what Jung called as the “confrontation of the shadow”. Or in other words, a man must manifest its feminine as well as masculine characteristics and a woman must manifest masculine along with feminine one. Otherwise, these vital aspects will remain dormant and undeveloped, leading to one sidedness of the personality.
In our day to day experience we see men who are shy and timid which reveal the potential lack of development which we might classically consider masculine. We also see women who are impatienr and aggressive that reveal the potential lack of development which we might classically considered as feminine. Therefore it is better not to ascribe masculinity and femininity solely in terms of physiological identity but as a quality that we all must strive for to evolve as a mature individual of perfection. This does not mean that people should be raised without gender identity. Jordan Peterson has said that after having developed as a socially acceptable and functional at the individual level, then one must expend the personality to incorporate elements of perceptions, thoughts and behaviour so that the possible sophistication to be able to handle social relation can be overcome from the early stage of development.
If a man is stereotypically masculine and becomes domineering then it will be hard for such a person to manifest the “anima” or so to speak the empathetic and compassionate side of personality. And if a woman is rigidly engineer stereotypically feminine then it will be hard for her to manifest the “animus” or the more assertive and reflective side of personality.
And as a consequence it will increase the chances of sophistication to be able to handle in terms of gender relation which will apparently affect the harmonious relationship between the individual and society at large. Such lack of development of the maternal eros or “anima” in men and paternal logos or “animus” in females may give rise to misunderstanding and annoying interpretation in the family circle and among friends.
In Jungian psychology, the shadow contains not only the dark side but it is the source of vitality, spontaneity, creativity and emotion. Therefore if the shadow is completely repressed our personality will become flat and lifeless. And it is the task of the ego to repress the animal instinct enough so that we are considered civilized while allowing sufficient expression of the instinct that provides creativity and vigour.
Confrontation of the shadow:
Before discussing the potential consequences that can occur when people fail to integrate the contra-sexual archetype “anima” and “animas” into the conscious realm they cast out into the “shadow” , I will try to briefly discuss the most powerful yet accessible archetype amongst the others in Jungian scheme of thought which he terms with a sinister and mysterious name of “shadow”/ dark side of personality through which I believe we will be able to understand the two opposites archetype more clearly.
In Jung minds, when one fails to assimilate the “shadow” into the conscious personality and bring them under control, then the outside world will mirror one’s shadow or so to speak, seeing our darkness in others. Experience tells us that there are certain features which offer the most obstinate resistance to accept who we are.
For instance, imagine a situation where a socially inept person finds difficulty to socialize and befriend others. The inability for the person to be able to socialize will elicit negative feedback or trigger negative emotion which the person will repress and push away into the unconscious to form a shadow. And let’s assume that, instead of recognizing his/her own flaw and lack of personality, the person gets resentful whenever s/he sees other people engage in conversation and social association. Such tendencies will end up in cursing a faithless world that recedes further and further into the distances. As a consequence, the person is likely to become bitter and harshly engrossed with malevolent thoughts blaming the world outside for not accepting them and by means of these circles, the isolation is intensified.
Therefore, this repression of the “shadow” rather than recognizing it and confronting the dark side of personality are usually bound up with what Jung called as the “projection of the shadow” (unconscious projection/ seeing our darkness in others) on to one’s environment which are not easily recognized as such and their recognition as Jung’s puts it, is a moral achievement beyond the ordinary. The more intense the projections are between the subject and the environment, the more difficult it is for the “ego” to see through the illusion. First we reject/repress our own shadow, then we project to the environment or to reiterate once again, seeing our darkness in others.
Bringing the dark “shadow” into the conscious territory is essential if one has to correct the less desirable aspect of personality. And if inferiority is conscious, one always has a chance to correct it but if it is repressed and isolated from “consciousness”, it never gets corrected.
(Note: In Jung’s mind, the “ego” is not the same as the “self” and the “self” represents the highest version of ourselves / or the deepest archetype according to Jung. He used the term like “Mandala” from the Buddhist and yogic literature loosely translated as ‘essence”/wholeness/circle or “central point”, the state where the union of unconscious and conscious occurs which he terms as the process of individuation or self-realization. The more the unconscious contents are confronted and assimilated into the “ego”, the closer the approximation of the “ego” to the “self”. According to him Christ exemplifies the archetype of the “self” or the highest version of self)
I will further try to illustrate this fact from the mythology Ramayana as a metaphor. Let suppose that Rama along with his wife, Sita and Lakshmana were walking in the forest. Rama walks ahead and Sita follows behind him and Lakshmana subsequently comes after them. Here Rama represents the Jungian “self” and Sita, representing the “shadow” and Lakshmana, the conscious “ego”. As Sita walks in between Rama and Lakshmana and Sita being the unconscious “shadow”, veils Lakshmana, the conscious “ego” from seeing his true “self” that is Rama walking in the front. And as long as Lakshmana fails to realize that Sita (his own shadow) was real and genuine and brings it under the conscious territory and controls the “shadow” material, he will never see Rama, his true “self”.
Jung said that “it is often tragic to see how blatantly a man bungles his own life and the lives of others and yet remains incapable of seeing how much the whole tragedy originates in himself and how he continually feeds it and keeps it going”. For instance, if I am a selfish person then possibly it will be hard for me to accept that I am selfish and in the process I will put up a disguise “persona” or “mask” to convince people around me that I am a good person and in doing that I deceive others and most importantly I deceive myself. To see the undesirable “shadow” traits of others is unchallenging but to recognize our own dark side and accept for what it is, is probably a heroic task. And this is obviously a moral tragedy.
Edmund burke once said that, “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”. Hence good people remaining passive in the face of evil is equally a cowardice masquerading or disguised as virtue that indirectly helps strengthen the root of evil to rise. This is the most terrible crime a good person can ever commit because the fault is not necessarily in the monster but in silence. And according to Jung, a conformist society who consist of a people who over-identified with their “persona” are easy prey for the rise of oppressive government.
In Jung models of psyche, “persona” consists only of a small component of a much larger personality. And if one is pessimistic, it will be terrifying to think on how dark and mysterious human psyche is and to what length of proclivity for evil a human can manifest if an individual dark shadow subsume the “ego” personality because the “persona” that we wear is only the tip of iceberg and the whole bulk of tendencies lies beneath the threshold of the conscious surface which we are unaware.
If a person has a stubborn resistance to recognize his/her “shadow” then the unconscious factors spins the illusion that veil his world and what is being spun is a cocoon , which in the end will completely envelop the person because the “shadow” has the potential to subsume the person “ego” ultimately manifesting a character like Hitler or Stalin.
Jungian would probably argue that Hitler’s hatred for Jew was his own unconscious shadow projection and we have no idea where he will end. As Jung puts it, “ projections change the world into a replica of one’s own unknown face”. And this is the danger of one-sided dogmatic ideological possession.
Jordan Peterson said that when radical ideas possess an individual then it corresponds to people who are addicted. As the addicted personality comes complete with rationalization of its own nature. And when we talk to a radical ideologue with an incommunicable state of mind, we are not talking to the person’s conscious ego but to the person’s shadow that had subsumed his/her ego. The person may not be aware of its influence but other people may observe its effect. And when such a person gets into power then only god knows the consequence.
Therefore we must always detach from dogmatism and must be accommodative of thousands mind and with radical honesty accept for who we are if we ever want to evolve as a human being. And observing value-neutrality must be the fundamental moral dictum and should always stand by the side of truth and facts.
Confronting with the shadow is as if coming face to face with the death to reach the other shore as Jung pointed out that “what you most need to know will be found where you least want to look”. And one who is able to integrate the “shadow” into the conscious territory and make the material works in his/her bidding perhaps will realize that: “there never has been a blow undeserved; there never has been an evil for which I did not pave the way with my own hands”. As Jung said that for such a person “he/she has become a serious problem to himself/herself, as s/he is now unable to say that they do this or that, they are wrong, and they must be fought against…. Such a person knows that whatever is wrong in the world is himself/herself and if s/he only learns to deals with his/her own “shadow” s/he has done something real for the world”. And perhaps such realization made “Siddhartha” retire into the forest and ultimately become “Buddha”.
Jung said that, “ until you make the unconscious conscious , it will direct your life and you will call it fate”. Correspondingly this idea is found in the Bhagavad Gita when Krishna advised Arjuna that, “All activities are carried out by the three modes of material nature (goodness, passion and ignorance – subconscious conditioning directing our life without our being conscious of the fact) . But in ignorance, the soul, deluded by false identification with the body, thinks itself to be the doer” (3.27). This conception obviously puts us into doubt about the existence of free will but I will restrict my discussion to the current topic. Therefore for the one who is genuinely obsessed with the “realization of truth”, confrontation of the shadow is a sine qua non for life, no matter even if it gives us a hellish experience.
Anima and Animus and the illusory projection:
I hope it is clear that if the person fails to integrate the “shadow” into the conscious territory and bring them under control then the outside world will mirror one’s own shadow. But in terms of gender relation, rather than projecting the unconscious onto the world, it then project to the member of the opposites sex, in a man’s case to a woman and vice versa. Here the source of projection is no longer the “shadow” but a contra sexual figure. And here we meet the “animus” of the woman and the “anima” of the man, the two corresponding archetypes that lie in the unconscious.
In the case of shadow one can realize the projection fairly to some degree with insight and goodwill without too much difficulty but in the case of “anima” and the “animus” it is seldom realized. In Jung’s words, “the anima and animus are much further away from the consciousness and in normal circumstances are seldom if ever realized”.
This projection often takes place in a romantic relationship and people always fantasize about the ideal partner especially in the beginning of the relationship. A person projects the ideal onto the person that the person is romantically attracted to. And that’s the projection of the Jungian archetype . Or in other words when we meet someone whom we are romantically attracted to we assume something about them. And when those behaviours which we idealized in our fantasies manifest to some degree, we immediately assume that they embody the ideal that we fantasize about . And it is the unconscious projection because it is rooted in dreams and fantasises.
Or take for instance a situation where someone is crazy and obsessed about a celebrity. Jungian would argue that the person is unconsciously projecting their inner archetype. They might think that the person that they admire embodies all the characteristics which they idealized or fantasized in their mind when in reality the celebrity that they worship might have the worst depressing private life and they themselves need a long way to go for psychological progression.
A woman will project an “animus” (inner male archetype contained in her psyche/unconscious) onto the men and the “animus” is her conceptualization of what the ideal man is. The man will try to be in concordance with that projection to some degree and areas. And those are the areas in which a woman will like them and will be discordant in other areas in which she would constantly disappoint him as the relationship develops.
For just as a woman is compensated by a masculine element (animus archetype) found within her , so the man is compensated by a feminine element (anima archetype) found in him. The projection making factor in the males is the “anima” (feminine archetype) nested inside his unconscious. For instance, a man may encounter a woman whom he is attracted to. He may like her for her looks, interest, intelligence or smell of perfume/whatever.
And whenever these women appear in dreams and fantasies, she personified the embodiment of all the outstanding characteristics of feminine beings. And it is not the conscious invention according to Jung but a spontaneous product of the unconscious as it is rooted in dreams and fantasies. According to Jung, a man sees all these positive qualities in the women he is attracted to as they reflect all the positive qualities of his inner “anima”. But after a certain period of time when the man begins to know her and as the relationship grows, he will realize that even though she has positive qualities, she also has many negative one/ whatever.
Sometimes I heard newly married couples saying that my husband was not the person whom I thought he was and the reverse may be the case for men. In such a case, Jungian would argue that why did the person presume that he or she was who he/she thought s/he was. The person thought that their partners was the embodiment of the angelic figures because they were projecting their inner “anima” and “animus” archetype onto the person whom they admire. Or in other words, s/he did not love the person because of what she/he was but because s/he thought she/he was the physical manifestation of the inner “anima” and vice versa. And that realization may sometimes blow the relationship apart. And perhaps this is one reason why Manipur stands at the peak of domestic violence in India. And the local news outfits are floated with the news such as “mou mangkhre”. Before marriage the partners may have probably said romantic lines such as: “I will move mountains for the sake of your love” /whatever.
One thing which we fail to realize is that ideals do not exist in reality. If one wants the ideal then one would end up meeting the fate of Draupadi who wants her husband to possess every possible outstanding quality. The story goes that in one of her previous lives, she worshipped Mahadeva to grant her a husband that possessed five outstanding traits. Since no single person could possess all those traits, Mahadeva gave her five husbands, each with one trait.
One can also ask oneself that “do the positive qualities that we fantasized resemble our own character”. If not, then surely we are selfish people. If I am a womanizer and at the same time if I want the most chaste woman to be my wife, then it’s pure selfishness. It is mistaking something else to be love. Nonetheless it reflects our inner weakness. We strive for or emulate to become someone that exists out there in the world because there is something more in them which is not in us. If we work out the unconscious and annihilate the entire evil tendencies then probably we may not need any Christ to worship outside of us because what was so without is now within.
Therefore the first stage on the right path is to withdraw the “projection” and thus freeing it from the object. But it is no ordinary task and require gigantic will power as it involves painful renunciation. Through this withdrawal of the projection we will come to realized that we are not dealing with an entity outside of ourself but a quality within- the male and female in us and it can reveal us the truth about the nature and effect of this factor. In reality, the man and women have fallen in love with deception or to the image that he/she has projected onto someone outside. When the mirage of the projection is dispersed possibly we will realized ourself as a fool. (Practically speaking, this projection making factor will continue till infinity. The east call it “Maya” (something which seems very real or even identical with the real but not the “real” itself) which Jung translated as “spinning women”)
Considering this fact it is wrong to ascribe a certain gender category as independent and authoritative while the other is dependent. When we ascribe masculine as an independent entity we indirectly assign the status of men as an enjoyer and the women being the one which is to be enjoyed. Going by this logic, if I see one woman for enjoyment then I am the masculine enjoyer. Similarly, if a woman sees another man for enjoyment then she becomes the enjoyer or so to speak the masculine manifestation. Then any of the gender categories who have the feeling of attachment and enjoyment for an object outside of themselves are dependent beings. Therefore it is philosophically and psychologically flawed to consider one entity as independent and the other as a dependent. We see absolute independence manifesting only in the life of the great sages.
Anima and Animus : The Possession
As I have earlier mentioned that the “shadow” has the potential to subsume the person’s “ego” if one fails to integrate which in the end will completely envelop the person’s entire personality turning them into an avatar. Similarly Jung also talks about the potential capacity of the “anima” and “animus” archetype to subsume one’s “ego” and turn them into an new incarnation if a singular archetype dominates one’s personality which Jung terms it as “possession”.
This possession can happen when someone have negative experience with member of the opposite sex such as manipulative romantic partner, deceptive friends of the opposite sex, experience of abusive mother or father, absent mother or father etc.
To use Jung words, “indeed it seems a very natural state of affairs for men to have “irrational mood” (when anima/feminine possessed) and women “irrational opinion” (animus/masculine possessed)”
A male who is exclusively possessed by an “anima” or feminine aspect is irrationally possessed by futile emotion and irrational mood. For them the question becomes that of personal vanity and touchiness. Or can even argue in a womanized way.
There may be varied experiences that may instigate one to be possess
ed by “anima” or “animus” but I will try to give a brief picture with one such illustration amongst others.
Let’s suppose a man and a woman got married after one year of love. As a rule, the man would project his inner “anima” onto his wife as if she is the physical manifestation of the ideal women that he fantasized. And as long as the image of projection corresponds to a certain degree with the bearer, there is no conflict.
But as the relationship develops he may gradually learn about the other side of his wife’s character that he has never known before. He may find that his wife is messy, even rude or had multiple relationships before marriage. Therefore this may cause subtle disturbances to his unconscious inner “anima”. These rejected elements that deviate from his ideal inner “anima” are repressed (compassionate and empathetic aspects replaced by moodiness/hysteria/false sentiment) into the unconscious forming a “shadow” as his “ego” perceives it as a threat.
And if these men go on feeding his inner anxiety or resentment then sooner or later the “anima” will gets possessed. And he will begins to show characteristic mood swings, becoming gloomy and depressed and cursing and resenting his faith.
And if he fails to integrate his inner “anima” into the conscious territory and reign the negativity then his “shadow” is likely to subsume his “ego” personality ultimately becoming a victim of psychosis or even fantasizing to murder his wife. Here the positive aspect of “anima” such as feeling and emotions are replaced by moodiness/ sentimentality, fidelity becomes possessiveness, aesthetic becomes sensuality etc.
On the other hand, a female who is exclusively possessed by “animus” or the masculine aspect will manifest tendencies where opinions supersede reflection. If women fail to integrate the “animus” or masculine edges then the “animus” becomes autonomous and negative that eventually works destructively on the individual herself and relation with others. The psychic energy that upshot will be pushed into the unconscious forming a “shadow” and there activates the archetypes of “animus”. The positive aspect of “animus” such as assertiveness will become aggression and ruthlessness and the analytical thought will be substituted by argumentation.
Being possessed of the energy that has flowed back into the unconscious, the “animus” figure now becomes so powerful and autonomous that it can overpower the conscious “ego” and finally dominate the whole personality. Possessed by male psyche over the female psyche, the masculine behaviour overrun and feminine principle gets suppressed. In a woman for whom this masculine aspect is integrated and coordinated with feminine principles they tend to become active, energetic, brave and forceful women.
Jung said that no logic on earth can shake her if she is ridden by the animus and for them it is a question of power whether of truth or justice or some other “ism”. Hence it will lead to one way traffic where both parties have an a priori assumption that they are right. The point of the argument is not to arrive at a rational agreement but to have argumentation for the sake of argumentation. As it consists of opinion instead of reflection.
But how can we help them? Of course, that’s the work of a clinical psychologist. But if they ever had a negative experience with the member of opposite sex then as a layperson we can suggest that: “ not all women/men are not the same/ or not like the one they encounter”…….. Or sometimes we must risk being a fool to become more wiser. Or they may gradually free themselves from the hold of possession by associating with friends/people who are more kind, honest and caring.
It seems that liberty is the essential condition for growth. Violent and aggressive attempts to reform will only end by retarding reform. When parents tell their child that they will never learn anything and call them fools, the latter actually turns out to be so in many cases.
Howard Becker pointed out that it is the interactionist process which is responsible for career deviance which he calls the “labelling theory”. It says that when we give a bad label to a person or child then they tend to live up to that name or self-fulfilling prophecy. For instance, if a child is labelled as a bad child/timid/homosexual etc in school then they tend to become a bad child. In such a situation people or friends around him/her no longer want to befriend him/her anymore. In the process, he/she has no way left than to join a group of other deviants thereby leading to a deviant career.
We can only help develop a plant by putting a hedge around it so that no obstacles come to it to grow on its own nature. We can provide the required material to help them grow with the soil. When the plant develops to such a point that it can stand on its own to withstand the external environment then we can remove the hedge. We must loosen the soil so that they can come out of it easily.
Overprotective tendencies harbours weakness. And weakness leads to more weakness and it prevents individuals from freely expressing their potential and scope of personality. When someone gets into clinical depression, the person may cry or weep for years or even curse his/her own fate to the point of thinking of committing suicide but the fact is no god sitting above the cloud will come and help us because the help is ourselves.