The individuation process is a term created by the famous psychologist Carl Gustav Jung to describe the process of becoming aware of oneself, of one’s make-up, and the way to discover one’s true, inner self.
Individuation means that one becomes a person, an individual, a totally integrated personality. It is a process of self realization during which one integrates those contents of the psyche that have the ability to become conscious. It is a search for totality. It is an experience that could be formulated as the discovery of the divine in yourself, or the discovery of the totality of your Self. This does not always happen without pain, but it is necessary to accept many things that normally we would shy away from. Once a person has accepted the contents of his unconsciousness and has reached the goal of the individuation process, he is conscious of his relationships with everything that lives, with the entire cosmos.
Individuation is a natural, inherent process in man. It cannot be stimulated by something external, but it grows from the inside. Just as the body can become deformed or sick by lack of nutrition or movement, the personality can be deformed by lack of experience or education. Jung stresses that our modern world does not give enough opportunity to experience the archetype of the Shadow. When a child expresses his animal instincts, generally it is punished by its parents. Punishment does not lead to the extinction of the Shadow (repressed tendencies, more about this later on), which is impossible, but it leads to the suppression of this archetype. The Shadow retreats to an unconscious state, primitive and undifferentiated. Then, when the Shadow breaks through the repressive barrier, and this does happen once in a while, it manifests itself in a sinister, pathological way.
“There is in the unconscious of each man an inherent image of woman who helps him to understand her being.”
The anima is the personification of all female psychological tendencies in the psyche of a man, including feelings, moods, intuition, receptivity for the irrational, the ability for personal love, a feel for nature, and the man’s attitude toward the unconscious.
This image becomes conscious by real contacts with women, especially the first woman he encounters in his life. Normally this first woman is his mother, who is the most powerful in shaping him. There are men who have never been able to free themselves from her fascinating power. A man’s experience of his mother is of course subjective. How she behaves is less important than his experience of how she behaves. The image he builds is not an exact representation of how she really is, but it is colored and shaped by his inherent ability to produce an image of her, that is, his anima.
If man has the feeling that his mother has had a negative influence on him, then the anima will often be expressed with irritating, depressive moods, insecurity, a feeling of being unsafe, and touchiness. This negative anima can be expressed in nasty, effeminate remarks, with which he demolishes everything possible. Another anima trick is pseudo-intellectual dialogs which prevents a man from feeling life closely and coming to real decisions. He thinks so much about life that he cannot live, and he losses all spontaneity and the flow of life.
Without a healthy anima, a man becomes effeminate, or becomes the prey of women, and he is not capable of handling the difficulties of life. Such men can be very sentimental or touchy.
When he is grown up his image of the anima is projected onto the women that attract him. It is then that a lot of misunderstandings arise, as most men are not aware that their projection does not correspond with who the woman is in reality. This is the cause of a lot of strange love affairs and divorces. Unfortunately, this projection does not happen in a rational way. It is not that a man is actively projecting, but that the projection happens to him automatically.
Because the anima is an archetype, she has characteristics that continue to appear throughout the ages. She has a quality of eternity. Often she looks young, although she has the feeling that she already has years of experience. She is wise but not overpowering. She often has the feeling of being special, or having a secret knowledge. She is often connected to the earth or water and can have great power. She has both a light and a dark aspect. She can be the pure, good, noble figure, almost a goddess, but she can also be a prostitute, a seductress or a witch. Especially in children’s dreams these opposite aspects are pronounced.
The dark aspect will most likely appear when a man has suppressed or underestimated his female nature, treating women with contempt or carelessness.
He anima can also appear in the form a fey or an elf and lure men away from their work or home, like the sirens in ancient times. In mythology and literature she continues to appear as a goddess and ‘femme fatale’.
In the life of men the anima expresses herself not only in the projection to women, but also in his creative activities, in his fantasies, his moods, premonitions, and emotional explosions. An old Chinese text says that when a man wakes up in the morning with a heavy or bad mood, it is his soul, or anima, that is responsible for this. She disturbs his concentration by whispering absurd ideas and spoils his day by supplying him with a vague feeling that something is not all right, or she wanders through his dreams with seductive visions.
Positive and negative as just two sides of a coin. In essence the anima is a guide to the psychological development of a man. Each time when man’s logical mind is not able to recognize or understand unconscious contents, his anima will help him to dig them out. His anima helps him to tune himself to the correct inner values and thereby helping him to open the door to his inner world. Thus the anima takes the role of guide and mediator in his inner world. Then man has to take serious those feelings, moods, expectations and fantasies sent by his anima, and fix them in one form or another, like writing, painting, sculpting. When he is working on this with patience then his unconscious contents will well up and connect with earlier material. Whatever results from it has to be examined both intellectually as well as with his feelings. It is important to consider it is not just ‘fantasy’, but that is very real.
The animus in women is the counterpart of the anima in men. Like the anima, the animus has three roots: the collective image of a man that a woman acquires, her own experiences with men in her life, and the latent male principle in herself.
The animus also has good and bad aspects. In contrast with the anima in men which appears most often in the form of erotic fantasies or moods, the animus has a stronger tendency to appear in the form of ‘sacred’ convictions. This male part in women is apparent when she lectures with a loud, obtrusive, male voice, or by unreasonable, emotional scenes. Even in a woman who at the outside is very feminine, the anima can be a hard, unforgiving power. That woman can suddenly become stubborn, cold and completely inaccessible.
Typical for such women is the endless repetition of thoughts like: “The only thing in the world I want is love, but he doesn’t love me.” Or “In this situation there are only two possibilities, and both are as bad”. The animus never believes in exceptions. In general one cannot contradict an animus, because usually it is right, but at the same time it doesn’t quite fit the individual situation. It is mostly only a reasoning, an opinion. It looks right, but is beside the point.
Just as the anima of a man is formed by his experience of his mother, so the animus of a woman is formed through hers of her father. The father gives her indisputable ‘true’ convictions that never include the personal reality of the daughter herself.
In his negative aspect, the animus is personified by a cocoon of dreamy thoughts, filled with desires and judgments of ‘how things must be’, excluding the reality of her own life. In his positive aspect, he can be very valuable aid in building a bridge to the Self by his creative ability.
The animus often appears (especially in dreams) as a group of men, this shows that the animus personifies a collective element rather than a personal element. Because of the collective aspect, women usually in reference to “they’ or ‘everybody’ include ‘always’, should’ and ‘must’.
The animus is a kind of a collection of fathers and similar authorities, who pass an intellectualized, indisputable judgment. It is mostly formed from words and opinions picked up from childhood on and later brought together into a canon of half-truths, a treasure chest of preconceptions. They are justified by “It is always done like that” or “Everybody is saying that it like this”. This critical judgment can sometimes act against her self resulting in an inferiority complex limiting her self-initiative. In other situations she can turn against people in a completely destructive way. She will criticize her neighbors, demolish the reputation of strangers without any reasonable explanation, or she makes belittling remarks to her family members or people with whom she works with the opinion that “it is good for them”, or “I like to call things by their name”, or “I just do not want to spoil them”.
An intelligent and developed woman is just as susceptible to the negative aspects of the animus as less developed one. A less developed woman will quote a newspaper instead of the state or a university. If her opinion is being questioned she will become quarrelsome or dogmatic. This side of a woman craves for power. She can become aggressive, dominating and unreasonable.
Because of this aspect of the animus it is very difficult for a woman to think in a non-prejudiced way. She always has to be aware of that inner voice that constantly tells her “that it needs to be this way”, or “they should do it this way”.
The positive side of the animus is that when a woman needs the courage and the aggressively he will be there to support her. When a woman realizes that her opinions are based on generalities and authorities, then the animus can help her to look for knowledge and wisdom.