Four Major Jungian Archetypes

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(Before reading this section please see, Carl Jung’s Collective Unconscious, Jung’s Archetypes, and Some Major Archetypes.)

Carl Jung believed that universal mythic characters, actions situations or in other words, archetypes reside within the collective unconscious of everyone the world over, as specific models of people, behaviors or personalities. Jung proposed that everyone’s personality contains elements of four major archetypes which are described below.

THE SHADOW

To know about the Shadow archetype please click here.

THE SELF

The Self is the final product, the result of the unity of the conscious and the unconscious mind of a person. It is the culmination of the process of individuation. Individuation, according to Jung, is a process, in which a person successfully makes conscious, the personal unconscious and collective unconscious. He becomes aware.

This integration brings about holistic healing in a person.

Earlier, when the conscious, the personal unconscious, and the collective unconscious were separate, the Ego was the center of it all. After the harmonious integration of the three layers, the Self emerges as the center, the nucleus, of the total personality, influencing the whole.

This stage is akin to being the symbol of God within the human psyche. It transcends all the layers of the psyche and is constant and unchanging, compared to the ever-changing ego or shadow selves.
It is the very Soul.

The Buddha and Jesus Christ, two beings who transcended all the layers of the human psyche, to reveal their God Selves within, can best represent the Self-archetype.

They achieved the unity of the three layers of the mind, which incidentally, is also symbolic of the Holy Trinity, both in Hinduism and Christianity,

THE PERSONA

The persona is an archetype, depicting the mask we put on when we interact with others. The word is of Latin origin and means a mask.

Persona is our public image, which may change in different contexts. For example, the roles we play in the office are different from the roles we play at home.

At home too, for that matter, the role we play with a mother will be different from the role we play with a grandparent, a sister, the father, the brother and the other relatives.

In a way, persona defines our roles in different relationships and circumstances.

There can be many masks for different occasions and the term persona denotes a collection of all these masks.

Persona, is in a way, the bridge for communication with the outside world. It is an agreement between who we are and who we want the world to think we are.

It effectively hides our shadow selves and helps us to become a part of a group in society.
However, if we identify too much with the persona, we are in danger of creating more shadows within us and completely stifling our true selves. It is akin to an actor identifying too much with one role in a movie and not willing to get out of the character in real life.

While persona is necessary to carry ourselves through society with decorum, yet, at the same time, we need to keep in mind that these are roles. Too much attachment to any particular role can be detrimental for us. If we identify ourselves with the spirit at all times we will not get carried away by the emotions that naturally occur to a persona.
We will be aware of our roles and that we are simply the aware observers. This can in turn, bring about presence of mind, and the development of a healthy ego, which will boost our self-esteem.

THE ANIMA AND THE ANIMUS

Apart from the shadow selves what most people are unaware of, are their male and female selves within. The anima is the female who resides in the collective unconscious mind of men, and the animus is the male who resides in the collective unconscious mind of women.

In Carl Jung’s own words, “The anima is a personification of all feminine tendencies in a man’s psyche “; therefore, we can safely say that, the animus is the personification of all masculine tendencies in a woman’s psyche.

These archetypes draw their energy from the collective unconscious.

The Anima and the Animus archetypes can to a certain extent be influenced by the personal unconscious mind of an individual. The imprint of the anima/animus (or the female/male), that a child carries is usually modeled on his primary caretakers, the mother and father, or in their absence, the surrogate parents he grew up with.

Later in life, this imprint of the anima and the animus influences the individual’s relationships with the opposite gender.

Anima

When an anima is allowed to express herself through a man, who is aware, and who seeks to develop his feminine qualities to become the whole Self, she will appear through him as love, loyalty, compassion, intuition, creativity, tenderness, commitment and understanding, and an ability to enjoy the journey instead of being thoroughly goal-oriented.

However, if it is a man who is unaware, in whom the anima lies deep in the unconscious, she usually feels rejected and thus projects herself into his life negatively, by showing up as possessive instead of loving and loyal, dramatically sentimental, malicious, and spiteful. She will also misuse the latent creative powers by indulging in sexual fantasies through him. She successfully transfers all her warped repressed energies through him and may also cause him to have acrimonious relationships, especially with the opposite gender.

Animus

In the case of a woman on the other hand, if she respects the male in her and allows the male qualities to grow, the animus in her can provide her with self-confidence, good decision-making skills, assertiveness, strength, focus, capacity for achievement, and goal-orientedness.

If on the other hand a woman suppresses her masculine side for any reason, the animus in her will lead her to become aggressive instead of assertive, unrelenting and confrontational instead of reasonable, dully logical instead of intuitive, cold and mechanical instead of focused, anxiously goal-driven instead of enjoying the process or journey as well.

Anima and Animus in Dreams

The anima and the animus often appear to us in our dreams in forms of the opposite gender. Dreams often give insightful clues about our relationship to our personal anima or animus.

A major differing element Carl Jung pointed out between the anima and the animus is that, in dreams, the animus appears as multiple male figures in contrast to the anima, which appears as a single woman.

Conclusion

A man who is not in touch with his anima will project the repressed anima’s warped qualities onto the women in his life as well. It is the same for the woman with a repressed animus.

In a marriage the partners reflect each other’s own inner anima and animus.

People continuously look for a perfect partner on the outside without realizing the fact, that, the one they are looking for is within.
They just need to cultivate and grow those parts (anima and animus) within themselves, and allow the parts to express themselves. Externally that is the kind of man or woman they will attract, one who reflects their inner anima or animus.

(Please see these related topics Carl Jung’s Collective Unconscious, Jung’s Archetypes, and Some Major Archetypes.)

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