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Animus

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The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (film)

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In C. G. Jung‘s analytical psychology, the animus is the unconscious contrasexual component of the female self—that is, the woman’s supposed “inner male.”

The animus presents itself to consciousness in a series of archetypal images. Usually a primitive, sexual figure emerges first. As a woman progresses, the initial primitive symbol is followed by a series of increasingly refined, “higher” images.

Jung says the animus may take either a dark or light form. Like all symbols, it mediates destructive or creative forces from the depths of the unconscious. The negative animus has been symbolized by figures like Frankenstein, the Werewolf, Faust and Dr. Jekyll‘s evil counterpart, Mr. Hyde. And it’s, perhaps, been historically embodied by maniacal types such as Jack the Ripper and Diocletian.

The positive animus is symbolized by the male heroes of world myth. It is incarnated in wrestling figures like The Rock (lower, more sensual form), the Romantic poet Shelly (higher level of eros), Winston Churchill (societal or cultural hero), and Mahatma Gandhi (spiritual exemplar).

Critics of Jung’s archetypal psychology tend to say his theories about gender are far too generalized, sexist and metaphysical.¹

¹ See for instance, Naomi R. Goldenberg, Changing of the Gods: Feminism and the End of Traditional Religions.

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  1. Pingback: Instinct « Happiness

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