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            The Animus and Anima

              Archetypal symbols in dreams



Dream interpretation Part 2 Theories

An archetype is an unlearned tendency to experience things in a certain way. An archytype in Jungian terms belongs to the collective unconscious. (The collective unconscious according to Jung is a level of consciousness which all human share but which is largely unconscious in most of us,  What we are not conscious of tends to a) present itself in dreams asking for recognition or b) come up, usually in a distorted way when we least expect it!) Archetypes are among the most powerful and most significant of all items found in dreams.   An archetype can also refer to the perfect example of an object the object by which all others are judged. Mother's love possibly being the most used example.

 In this artical I am going to look at the archetypes of the animus and anima.

The animus is a term used by psychologist Carl Jung to represent the masculine side of the female.  Jung was surprisingly correct for his time where sexual stereotypes were exceedingly rife in understanding that sexuality is not clear cut. There is not, as tended to be believed some cut and dried character traits which belong to men and others to women..  This is biologically quite correct in that women all have levels of testosterone and culturally also quite accurate in that what is considered feminine differs from age to age and culture to culture.  Masculine and feminine attributes which we repress will come out in some other form.  Jung called the female attribute which resided in the collective unconscious of men the Anima  and the masculine aspect while lay in the unconscious of women the Animus. I am going to look more fully now at the Animus.

Women can become familiar with the nature of the animus through a questioning of ideas and opinions, and of gender roles and identity.  When coming to terms with her masculine side, the woman learns to question her opinions and hold them at a distance.  This does not mean repressing those opinions; it simply means investigating where they come from, and delving more deeply into their background. The consciousness raising sessions of the 1960's and 70's American women can be seen to be exactly this!

Dream interpretation can often be a big help in discovering the repressed "masculine" side of a woman, and the woman who dreams of being a man is often exploring her masculine nature. This can take the part of a wise old man, a sorcerer or any other kind of man, and tends to be logical, often rationalistic, even argumentative. Integration of the characteristics which are working in the unconscious, will help the women's animus to become feeling and to be able to be direct with their point of view rather than argumentative. Recognising and accepting these aspects of yourself will greatly inclease your effectiveness and feeling of wholeness.  It will not be surprising to learn that both men and women tend to be attracted to a person who personifies their unconscious anima or animus!   While it is true that certainly in the Western world we have come an enormous way in lessening ideas of sexual stereotypes in the past 30-40 years, it would be far from the truth to believe they are no longer working within society and effecting us.

Jung developed a system of stages of development which he believed women went through when encountering and integrating the animus.

In stage one, the animus may appear in dreams, and he may represent the ultimate embodiment of physical power.  Thus the animus may appear as an athlete, a highly muscular man, or even as a criminal or thug.

In stage two, the animus gives the woman the initiative and the ability to take action. Women in this stage are often ready to take on careers and lives of their own, apart from their family and other stereotypes and role models.

In stage three of the development process, the animus may be seen in dreams as a clergyman, professor or other authority figure.  During this stage, the animus represents knowledge and wisdom.

In the final stage, the animus comes to represent spirituality and deeper meaning. During this stage, the animus moves back and forth between the conscious and unconscious mind, still appearing frequently in dreams but being integrated in waking life as well.

Men likewise have a femine archytype called the anima which works in a similar vein to the animus.  Not surprisingly "super macho" men who are rigerously denying their anima tend to be attracted to unusually feminine women.  They can each act out for the other the unconscious functions. This of course always has problems as the partner will fail on many occassions to be the perfect anima or animus and a far more fulfilling feeling will come from integrating your own and becoming a more whole person. Our dreams are an excellent way to begin to do this.  

Dr. C. George Boeree  offers an indepth analysis of Jung and Archytypes for those who would like to read it.  

The Mandala



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