Jung stated that, “Every man carries within him the eternal image of woman [termed anima]. The same is true of the woman: she too has her inborn image of man [animus].” The concepts of anima and animus are very complex, yet, awareness of our inner partner is key to understanding many aspects of our selves, including how we choose romantic partners.
A man’s anima is formed through his relationship with his mother and by the feminine as represented culturally through myth, art and religion. As a man matures and individuates, his anima essentially develops too.
In the earliest stage, the anima is the purely biological or maternal woman. The feminine is a provider of nourishment, love and security – the Mother or Eve. With this anima, a man feels he cannot function well without a vital connection to a woman and may be easily ‘mothered.’ He lacks his own vitality and direction and plays a limiting role as baby-maker or muscle man.
In the next stage, the anima has moved beyond a merely biological level into an aesthetic and romantic level where she has some value as an individual, as represented by Angelina Jolie. A man often assumes the roles of romantic lover, dedicated father and hardworking provider.
In the third stage, the feminine has additional virtue. With this anima, a man is capable of having a genuine friendship with women and accepts that a woman can be independent of his own needs. For men, mid-life and individuation often force the valuing and integration of previously repressed feminine qualities.
Finally, a man’s anima functions as a guide to his inner life, actively seeking dialogue between consciousness and the unconscious. Here, anima is the wise Sophia, able to handle existential issues and is the source of a man’s creative energy – he is his own muse.
The function of the anima is to lead a man towards unexplored feminine qualities such as feelings and relatedness. Men who tend to operate mostly from an undeveloped anima (stage 1 or 2) identify mainly with masculine qualities (e.g., logic, productivity, protection). Feminine aspects (e.g., emotion, spontaneity) have not been integrated into their consciousness and thus, as with any shadow material, will be projected onto a woman during times of infatuation.
Additionally, a man who has not welcomed his feminine side is apt to be anima “possessed.” At times, he will become moody, withdrawn and depressed and show emotionally childish behavior that is apparent to others but not to him.
Men can operate mostly at one anima stage, yet regress to another stage when triggered by certain situations or people. Men can gain insights about their anima by exploring their views of women, how they perceive how men are to relate with women, and how they expect women to act, dress or think.
Women can reflect upon the anima stage of men in their lives by becoming aware of any gender roles (e.g., fixer) men may rely upon and be aware of their own gender roles (e.g., nurturer) they tend to fall into at certain times.
Next week: the animus