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Archetype of the Animus – Jung’s view of the male in the female
The male within the female, shown as a man in a woman’s dreams. Physically a woman is predominantly female, but also has a clitoris and produces some male hormones. Psychologically, we may only express part of our potential in everyday life. In a woman, the more physically dynamic, intellectual and socially challenging side of herself such as assertiveness and taking charge of situations may be given less expression. Apart from this some features, such as innovation and creative rational thought, may be held in latency. Even if this is not true for the modern woman, there are features of her full potential that are held as secondary or latent characteristics, and are depicted by the male in female dreams.
In general we can say the man in a woman’s dreams represents the woman’s mental and social power, her ability to act creatively in ‘the world’. It also holds in it an expression of her complex of feelings about men, gained as experience mostly from her relationship with – or lack of relationship with – her father. The animus is also a synthesis of all her male contacts. So the whole realm of her experience of the male can be represented by the man in her dream, and is accessible through the image. Femaleness or maleness must not be confused with personality as expressed as her body. The conscious personality is a very flexible and shapeshifting thing. It can be male or female in quality no matter what the body gender. But in dreams, the male is the facet of dynamic action that projects into the world of this shapeshifting personality.
The animus can be depicted in a dream by an heroic or spiritual male figure, by her brother or father, a giant, a lion or bull. The animus can be wonderfully creative or powerfully destructive, depending upon ones relationship with it. Cultural symbols one may use are of leader figures from either national or religious backgrounds; a male dwarf; a medicine man such as a shaman, or a man the woman is marrying. The negative aspect of the animus may show as the seducer, the man who imprisons or leads her into danger or tortures her. The positive animus shows as the man who solves problems, shows how things work, exhibits love despite trials, and is the deliverer from death. P. W. Martin says that more than anything else the animus figure has two characteristic marks: energy and ambivalence.
Marie von Franz says of the animus that it often takes the negative form of a ‘sacred conviction’ in a woman rather than erotic fantasies. When a woman has such an animus impulse working in her she may be recognised by the way she preaches her particular ‘sacred conviction’ in a loud and sometimes masculinised voice. She may even impose such beliefs on others in ‘brutal emotional scenes’. Such a woman may be at times obstinate, cold and inaccessible. An example of a woman with such a sacred conviction is Joan of Arc. While Bluebeard is an example of a negative animus figure.
These convictions a woman may hold are usually related in some way to the woman’s father. They are usually not related to the present situation or the woman’s own personality. They simply ARE. The negative animus may also lead a woman into destructive relationship with her husband or children. Von Franz quotes the story of a woman who showed her a picture of the woman’s son who died by drowning at 27. The woman commented that ‘I prefer it this way: better than giving him away to another woman.’ Such hidden possessiveness and domination can lead to awful situations in those related to such a woman, making it difficult for children to become independent, and husbands to become men.
Good relationship with or marrying the man
Shows the woman integrating her own ability to be independent and capable in outwardly active terms. This makes her more whole, balancing her ‘female’ qualities. She would then be less dependent upon an external male to feel whole. It also shows the woman meeting her experience of her father in a healing way. This enables the woman to have a realistic relationship with an actual man. It also brings a sense of connectedness between her conscious self and what she senses as the ‘commercial’ world. See: Archetype of the father.
To be in conflict with the man, or unable to make real physical and pleasurable contact with him
Suggests difficulty in meeting what may have been a painful or threatening experience of father or some other man. This can lead to lack of ability to make clear judgements, and lack of decisiveness in areas outside of feeling values. She is prone to acceptance of collective or long held social norms without question; family or national attitudes not applicable to present situations; and ‘reasoning’ which actually arises out of emotions connected to such family or social norms. Actual relations with men will be difficult, or entered into simply as a duty. Emotional or intimate merging is threatening because it brings the woman close to the conflicts and pain connected with father/man. Sex may be possible but not a close feeling union. See: man.
Useful Questions and Hints:
Am I still at odds with my internal male – if so what still stands in the way of unity?
If I have found unity with my inner male what has this brought into my life?
Is my form of reasoning really a form of intense emotional conviction?
What are my dreams saying about how I can find a greater unity with my male self?