Friday, February 18, 2005

Summary of Jung's Thought

Summary of Jung's Thought
From years of psychiatric work and phenomenological research in religions and mythologies, Jung identified several key motifs that the archetypes can take. The ones that he felt were especially important include: the persona, the shadow, the anima/animus, the mother, the child, the wise old man, and the self. To Jung, abstract figures, situations, places and processes can also give expression to them.

THE PERSONA: is the mask we wear to make a particular impression on others; it may reveal and conceal our real nature. It is called an artificial personality that is a compromise between a person's real individuality and society's expectations--usually society's demands take precedence. It is made up of things like professional titles, roles, habits of social behaviour, etc. It serves to both guarantee social order and to protect the individual's private life. That is, when the ego identifies itself with the persona, the individual become particularly susceptible to the unconscious.

THE SHADOW: Is a step further towards self-realization when one recognizes and integrates it. It is the negative or inferior (undeveloped) side of the personality. It is said to be made up of all the reprehensible characteristics that each of us wish to deny, including animal tendencies that Jung claims we have inherited from our infra-human ancestors. It is said to coincide with the personal unconscious and because all of us has one it appears to be a collective phenomena.

The more unaware of the shadow we are, the blacker and denser it is. The more dissociated it is from conscious life, the more it will display a compensatory demonic dynamism. It is often projected outwards on individual or groups who are then thought to embody all the immature, evil, or repressed elements of the individual's own psyche. (Symbols of the devil and the serpent contain elements of the shadow).

ANIMA / ANIMUS: following a person's coming to term with their shadow they are then confronted with the problem of the anima/animus, the archetype which is said to personify the soul, or inner attitude. It is usually a persona and often takes on the characteristics of the opposite sex. The anima is said to represent the feminine in men, and come from three sources: 1] individual man's experience with women as companion; [2] man's own femininity--rooted presumably in the minority of female genes and hormones present in man's body; and [3] the inherited collective image that has been formed from man's collective experience of woman through out the centuries.

Anima often appears in dreams, as long as she remains unconscious. She may also be projected outwards onto various women--first the mother, then lover and wife as one grows. This projection is said to be responsible for the passionate attraction or aversion and a man's general apprehension of the nature of women. Should a man mistakenly identify with the anima, Jung says, she can produce effeminaty or homosexuality. The anima remains in an compensatory relationship with the outer, conscious attitude. The more a man identifies with the masculine persona, the more he will be subject to the projections of his anima. In all men the anima is responsible for moods and is a complication in all emotional relationships (rather a stereotypical statement, certainly reflects no attempt to remove himself from cultural assumptions).

After the middle of life, according to Jung, the anima is essential for vitality, flexibility and human kindness. She appears in a variety of manifestations which reflect her bipolarity. She can be both positive and negative from one moment to another, young and then old, mother and then lover, good and them evil, and so on. She is an ambivalent image and has occult connections with the ancient mysteries and hence a religious tinge.

The animus is the comparable counterpart in the female psyche. (Naomi Goldenberg's critique points out that Jung provides emperical evidence for anima, but the 'animus' is just a postulate opposite. See: Changing of the Gods and Returning Words to Flesh). It is said to be the woman's image of a man. Unlike the anima, the animus appears in a plurality of forms. To Jung this reflects the differences in male and female conscious attitudes. He says that the woman's consciousness tends to be exclusively personal and centred upon the family, the man is made up of various worlds of which the family is only one. Thus he finds the anima and animus to be the opposites of each of these conscious attitudes, plural and singular respectively. (Again we find stereotypes of male and female. The fact is that men are trained to be more sinle minded that are women in Western Society. Things have changed dramatically since the last century and the roles of men and women have altered drastically. Jung's response to women who work, unfortunately, is that work too much are too masculine and undesirable, if not suffering from pathology.)

For the anima Eros is the undifferentiated unconscious principle (the root of all emotions), for the animus it is logos (which in the woman's mind is said to be responsible for unreasoned opinion and critical disputatiousness). Animus manifests itself most often in words and not images (Emma Jung), typically as a voice that comments on a person's situation or imparts general rules. When it does take a form, usually in dreams, it appears as a "plurality of men, a group of fathers, a council, a court, or some gathering of wise men," etc. It may also manifest itself in the single figure of a real man--father, lover, brother, teacher, judge, sage, etc. It is in short a manifestation of a man distinguished in some way by mental capacities or other masculine qualities (since when is thinking a purely masculine quality?). Its positive forms are characteristically benevolent, knowledgeable or understanding; its negative aspects are cruelly demanding, violently tyrannical, seductive, moralistic or censorious. It can also function, like that anima, as a bridge between the inner and outer worlds.

THE MOTHER ARCHETYPE: range of images of mother archetype are almost inexhaustible--usually some from of maternal aspect, the underworld, womb-like, etc. Most important of this archetype is mothers of the literal sense followed by those of the figurative. It may also be symbolized in a variety of impersonal forms (paradise [of birth], Kingdom Of God, church, university, city or country, earth, woods, sea, moon, gardens, caves, cooking vessels, certain animals--cow, hare). Evil symbols include, in the Western context, dragons, witches, graves, deep water, and death.

THE CHILD ARCHETYPE: Also takes many forms--child, god, dwarf, hobbits, elf, animals--monkey--or objects: jewels, chalices or the golden ball (trickster like). It represents original or child like conditions in the life of the individual or the species, and thus reminds the conscious mind of its origins and helps to keep them continuous. A necessary reminder when the consciousness become too one sided, too willfully progressive in a manner that threatens the sever the individual from the roots of his or her being. It also signifies the potentiality of future personality development, it anticipates the synthesis of opposites and the attainment of wholeness. Thus it is said to represent the urge and compulsion towards self-realization. This is a reason that so many of the mythical saviour gods are childlike in their nature.

THE WISE OLD MAN: is the archetype of meaning or spirit. It often appears as grandfather, sage, magician, king, doctor, priest, professor, or any other authority figure. It represents insight, wisdom, cleverness, willingness to help, moral qualities. His appearance serves to warn of dangers, provide protective gifts and so one (Gandalf in Lord of the Rings). As with the other archetypes the wise old man also possesses both good and bad aspects.

THE SELF: this is, according to Jung, the most important archetype. It is called the "midpoint of the personality" a centre between consciousness and the unconsciousness. It signifies the harmony and balance between the various opposing qualities that make up the psyche. It remains basically incomprehensible, as ego consciousness cannot grasp this supraordinate personality of which the ego is only one element. The symbols of the self can be anything that the ego takes to be a greater totality than itself. Thus many symbols fall short of expressing the self in its fullest development. Symbols of the self are often manifested in geometrical forms (mandalas) or by the quaternity (Any figure with four parts). Prominent human figures which represent the self are the Buddha or Christ. This archetype is also represented by the divine child and by various pairs--father and son, king and queen, god and goddess, or by a hermaphrodite

No comments: