Anima and Animus Archetypes- How we choose a partner
Anima and Animus Archetypes- How we choose a partner.
By Tony DeLorger© 2011
In Jungian psychology the structure of the personality contains two areas of the unconscious. The first is the ‘Personal Unconscious’, which by definition is a store of experience not validated or having gained recognition by the ego, and therefore remains filed until the information is needed for some reason. Alternatively the experiences that have been repressed or discarded are also stored here.
The second area is the ‘Collective Unconscious’ a discovery attributed to Jung and a landmark in the history of psychology. Just as the body inherits physical characteristics, the mind through its physical counterpart the brain, inherits characteristics that determine how we react to the world and the experiences we have. This predisposition is inherited not only from parents but linked to the past of our species and its evolution.
The ‘Collective Unconscious’ then is a reservoir of latent images, what Jung called primordial images. These images are from our ancestral past. They are not images, but predispositions to respond to the world in a certain way. A good example is when a person first sees a snake, and having never seen one before, reels in fear. This response is not learned by experience but rather from our primitive ancestral experience. So the more experiences we have in life the more aspects of the collective unconscious surface.
The contents of the ‘Collective Unconscious’ are called Archetypes, which means an original model after which other similar things are modelled. There are many archetypes but the subject of this article centres on two: Anima and Animus.
As the persona is the outward face of the psyche, because that is the face the world sees, the inner face is called the anima in males and the animus in females. The anima is the female side of the male psyche and the animus is the male side of the female psyche. Just as we physically carry both male and female hormones, we also carry both feelings and attitudes of our opposite in a psychological sense.
Developing these archetypes depends on continuous exposure to the opposite sex over generations, acquiring characteristics to facilitate appropriate responses and understanding. If the personality is well-adjusted the feminine side of a man’s personality and the masculine side of a woman’s personality must be allowed to express themselves consciously and with behaviour. If a man exhibits only masculine traits and his anima remains unconscious, this gives the unconscious a quality of weakness. Most virile appearing and acting men are often weak and submissive inside, just as excessively feminine women can be stubborn and wilful inside.
So how does all this affect how we choose a love interest or partner? Every man carries an image of an eternal woman, not particular but definitive. This fundamentally unconscious image is of primordial origin, a collective of all experiences and impressions of women. This archetype heavily influences standards and determines acceptance or rejection. The first projection of this anima for men, animus for women, is of course the mother, and for women, father. But it is this eternal image that determines most in a ‘passionate attraction’. There are of course other factors and reasons to be attracted to someone, but it has been proven that they are secondary to that of the archetype. Chasing relationships with people that are contrary to the anima or animus image will always result in dissatisfaction and antagonism.
As a general rule the anima has a preconceived liking for vanity, helplessness, uncertainty and unintentional behaviour in women. The animus chooses to identify with heroic, intellectual, artistic and athletic celebrities in men.
In conclusion, finding a life partner has more to do with our own understanding of our collective unconscious, and therefore our anima or animus archetypes. The eternal image of our opposites yields the most importance and influence on our partner choices and should be determined and understood. The more we understand about what we want, the better our chance of success.