OnceUnchained have been heavily featuring Shadow Work this month, and as such it seems wildly important that there is some understanding gained about Jung and the beliefs he was operating from.
We need to be mindful of theorists’ beliefs. We should try to recognise that while not all psychologists agree with archetypes as identifiers for the self, labelling our negative emotions is a strong game when working towards self development. I will share why in a separate post.
Learning about these archetypes enables the individual to choose their behaviours more often than merely responding to internal, unconscious patterns.
Persona is the Latin word for ‘mask’ so make of that what you will. In a previous post I mentioned how our sub-personalities can be woken, by both the people we socialise with and the environment we are in. Specifically the persona is each of the various self-expressions used socially. It protects the ego from unpleasant representations of the self and deliberately expresses itself to enforce a role when required (Mother/Father/Teacher etc).
The urges, impulses and emotions we have been socialised to see as inappropriate, sit behind this ‘mask’ to enable us to fit in with societies expectations and norms.
While the persona does help us to adapt and to fit in, when we become too attached to our persona, we can lose sight of ourselves entirely. We try too hard to be what we think we should be in each role.
This is the level at which individuation begins.
The collective of our repressed ideas, desires, impulses, instincts and perceived weaknesses and short comings is known as the shadow. All that we are which is socially undesirable or does not fit our moral and desirable ideals, dwells here. The consequence is that the shadow most often holds hatred, prejudice, and anger among other frustrations and tendencies, towards both the self and others.
We all have these parts and expressions, and our denial of having them leads to projection. We cast judgement and demonise those with the traits we least want to acknowledge in who we are or wish we had ourselves.
We also use these projections to condone our unacceptable behaviours towards others. As an example, we may determine that a person is aggressive and want to attack them for it… who is being aggressive here?
The animus represents the masculine aspect in women and the anima represents the feminine aspect in men.
The persona usually takes on the gender role that you are born to physically. Men take the masculine role and women the feminine.
This is not always the case and either males or females can associate more strongly with the opposite role than their birth gender.
Our biggest ideas about masculine and feminine tend to form in our early years through witnessing the gender roles in the relationships of those closest to us. While our contra-sexual selves develop through our adolescent relationships and beyond, largely what we expect from a man or woman, is created by those early key figures and influenced by the relationships which follow.
To compensate for this ‘splitting’, the psyche develops our balance in either masculinity or femininity. A woman’s suppressed masculinity is found in the animus. A man’s suppressed femininity in the anima.
In many cultures, discouragement of men exploring their feminine, and women exploring their masculine is rife. This is only ever going to serve as a detriment to the people within these societies and circles.
Jung said, a woman’s masculine ‘contra-sexuality’ governs her thinking. A man’s feminine contra-sexuality governs his feelings.
The psyche embraces both masculinity and femininity.
Regardless of your biological or chosen gender, your psyche is androgynous… You exist in duality.
The syzygy or the divine couple, represents completion, unification, and wholeness.
The masculinity and femininity within must be harnessed together for an individual to achieve a full self.
By learning to recognise masculinity and femininity with the respect it deserves, we find peace in their unfolding around and within us. We are more comfortable witnessing these energies play out, when we observe those qualities within the self too.
The united conscious and subconscious self as a single expression.
Realisation of the self is an aspiration typical in numerous practices and religions and comes under various labels such as self-actualisation, unification, grounding and centering.
Individuation is the process of creating the self by integrating the sub-parts of our whole into our consciousness and considerations.
According to Jung, the experience of the Self on the empirical, personal, level is similar to a religious revelation. The Self being, psychologically speaking, the equivalent of the concept of supreme deity or God.
This suggestion of an ultimate self who accepts their whole nature provides a sort of goal. Identify who you are by challenging every idea, notion or belief you hold which does not support a healthy, at-peace outcome.
I call this centre the “self,” which should be understood as the totality of the psyche. The self is not only the centre, but also the whole circumference which embraces both conscious and unconscious; it is the centre of this totality, just as the ego is the centre of consciousness. (Psychology and Alchemy, Princeton University Press, 1993, par. 4.)
The ‘ego’ is at the centre of consciousness.
The ‘self’ is at the centre of personality.
Personality is the combination of consciousness and the unconscious mind.
This is a brief introduction to only four of Jung’s archetypes. He supposed that there could be many more than he proposed. These four exist as a whole to create the psyche. Our next post will explore a further twelve personality archetypes.