Anima & Animus; The Masks & Persona!

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The masks: I use them indeed in the whole of my life, not like the people of their adult age after they lost their childish innocence. I had learned it when I was a child; I had learned to look the way people wanted to see me, to make them happy! It may be the trauma in my childhood that caused it. However, it caused that I needed time to find my real personality, my real I.

This subject got clear in my mind when my brother Al brought it into our regular meetings with friends. I remember well those days; we had regular psychological meetings (with Al and me, in our apartment) with friends, with a bit of vodka included! Al has put in this theme about masks in one of them. I don’t know where he had this from, although I could bet that he got it from Dr Jung. Anyway, it was a surprise and, at the same time, a fascinating issue for us to talk about. Masks are something we use every day without being aware of it.

He claimed that we even have many different masks in different situations. Of course, at first, our young friends refused to wear any masks, or better to say, they didn’t want to believe they were doing it. But Al, after asking some questions (in the Socratic method!), we all had to admit that we do use it.

I believe and am convinced that this issue is significant and will help us know our inner behaviours; I always thought it was good to observe myself from above! Here I should reference Dr Jung again to understand the subject better. We will understand how the man can unconsciously make a fool of himself and cause suffering to women. Of course, it is an extended argumentation; I have tried to shorten it. πŸ’–

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Translated from “Die Beziehungen Zwischen Dem Ich Und Dem Unbewussten” (The Relations Between The I And The Unconscious) C.G. Jung; Individuation, Anima & Animus. “Anima, animus and the role of man!

There is an inherited collective image of the woman in man’s subconscious, with the help of which he grasps the essence of the woman. This inherited image is the third primary source of the soul’s femininity.

In the Eastern perspective, the concept of the anima, as we have presented it here, is missing, and logically the concept of a persona is also missing. This is by no means accidental because, as I indicated above, there is a compensatory relationship between persona and anima.

The persona is an intricate system of relationships between the individual consciousness and society, suitably a kind of mask designed on the one hand to make a particular impression on others and, on the other hand, to conceal the true nature of the individual.  The latter is superfluous and can only be asserted by someone who is so identical to his persona that he no longer knows himself, and the former is unnecessary and can only be imagined by someone unaware of the true nature of his fellow human beings. Society expects, yes, it must expect every individual to play the role intended for him as ultimately as possible so that someone who is a pastor not only objectively carries out his official functions but also otherwise at all times and under all circumstances, the role of the pastors play without hesitation. The firm requires this as a form of security; each must stand in his place; one is a shoemaker, the other is a poet. He is not expected to be both. It’s also not advisable to be both because that would be a bit spooky. Such a person would be “different” from other people and not entirely reliable. In the academic world, he would be a “dilettante”, politically an “unpredictable” figure, religiously a “freethinker”; in short, he would be suspected of being unreliable and inadmissible, for the society is convinced that only the shoemaker, who is not a poet, is to provide expertly correct shoes. The unambiguousness of the personal appearance is a practically important thing; the average person known to the society must already have his head on one thing to be able to accomplish something worthwhile, two of which would be too much for him.

(psychologytoday.com)

Our law firm is undoubtedly attuned to such ideals. It’s no wonder, then, that anyone who wants to achieve anything needs to keep these expectations in mind. Of course, as an individual, no one could fully live up to these expectations, so the construction of an artificial personality becomes an unavoidable necessity.

The demands of decency and good manners do the rest to motivate a wholesome mask. Behind the mask then arises what is called >private life<. This well-known separation of consciousness into two often ridiculously different figures is a drastic psychological operation that cannot remain without consequences for the unconscious. The construction of a collectively appropriate persona involves a tremendous concession to the outside world, true self-sacrifice that forces the ego straight into identification with the persona so that there really are people who believe they are what they represent.

The soullessness of such an attitude is only apparent, for the unconscious will under no circumstances endure such a shift in a heavy emphasis.Β  Looking critically at such cases, we discover that the excellent mask is internally compensated by a private life. The pious Drummond once complained that ‘bad temper is the vice of the pious’. Of course, whoever builds up a positive persona reaps an irritable mood. Bismarck had hysterical fits of crying, Wagner a correspondence about silk dressing gowns, Nietzsche wrote letters to a “dear lama,” Goethe had conversations with Eckermann, and so on. But there are more sophisticated things than the banal “lapses” of the heroes. I once acquainted a venerable man – one could without difficulty call him a saint – I walked about him for three days. I could nowhere discover the inadmissibility of the mortal in him. My sense of inferiority was becoming threatening, and I was already beginning to think seriously about improving myself. But on the fourth day, his wife consulted me… Nothing similar has happened to me since then. But I learned from this that someone who becomes one with his persona can let his wife represent everything disturbing without the latter noticing, but she pays for her self-sacrifice with a severe neurosis.

I might look forward to sharing another part of this fascinating book. Thank you for being there. πŸ™πŸ’–πŸ™

17 thoughts on “Anima & Animus; The Masks & Persona!

  1. Thank you Aladin for sharing this (the first of many I hope!) Jungian themed post as I greatly enjoyed musing on the topic of masks. I agree, while growing up we create multiple masks for ourselves yet hopefully at midlife we can begin to let a few masks go. And what a relief that can be as we age and move from “role” to “soul”. Well hopefully. Love and light, Deborah.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This post is amazing. So well written. You have such a valuable insight to Dr. Jung’s perspective because you are able to read in native language, German!πŸ‘πŸ»I am learning a lot and can’t wait to revisit soon when I have more time. Fantastic, my friend! Bravo
    πŸ“•βœŒοΈπŸ™‚ 🎭

    Liked by 1 person

  3. elainemansfield

    When we’re young and think we know about ourselves, Jungian ideas go down better with a bit of vodka or pot. In high school, I had a good student, good girl mask which I took off on the weekend to replace with the party girl and Motown dancer mask. Until 2008, I was a woman’s health educator and coach, a mother, a wife, and a Jungian. After 2008, my old mask was washed away by tears and I became a widow and a writer–although the Jungian part stayed in place. It’s hard to keep up with the way these personas change (especially in a world where no one bothers to tell the truth. Who am I today? And who are you?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well said, Elaine, my wise friend. I didn’t know how a world could work without masks. It could be a dreamlike world; when we get to know and have the strength to confront our unconsciousness, we might not need masks and know who we are.πŸ™

      Liked by 1 person

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