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How To Integrate The Anima

Best Kept Secret Of Jungian Psychology

James

Welcome back, everybody. So I’ve been asked several times – as has Steve, over the last few days or few weeks – about what the idea of “wedding the Anima” is. It’s a question that’s come up several times, and of course it’s a concept which was spoken about in Jung’s Collected Works, and it’s a colloquial phrase that’s thrown around. Whereas a man grows up and moves away from his parents, the idea – of course – is that he needs to “wed his Anima”. But there are many things built into this particular phrase that are perhaps loaded. So the general understanding – at least, from my point of view, and Steve, you can tell me if you think otherwise – is that when people come and understand Jungian psychology initially, usually it’s through the lens of mythic narrative and stories. And so they’ll watch, say, for example, Star Wars, and they’ll go: “Princess Leia is the Anima.” Or in Dante, as I like to bring up on this channel, “Beatrice is his Anima”, right? So the idea people have, I think – as I did for a really long time – is that the Anima is kind of ‘the woman in a man’s mind’, and it is a sexual function. So to “wed the Anima”, therefore, when it comes to life becomes quite a confusing thing, and I think lots of people fall into that trap including myself. So I guess, Steve: first of all, how are you? And second of all, what is the Anima? If you could give, say, a 30-second breakdown of what the Anima is, what do you reckon it is?

 

Steve

I’m very well, thank you, James. 30 seconds on something which has plagued human consciousness for as long as it’s existed – well, I think the first thing to say is that it’s not a ‘woman within’. It’s part of male psychology. That’s the first understandable mistake that people make when they encounter Jung’s work. It tends – it tends – to be projected onto women, but it is not a woman. Fundamentally, it’s the relating factor within a man’s psychology, and it’s Janus faced: it points outwardly to the world and receives impressions from the world, but also the same function on the inside as well. The Anima communicates the unconscious to consciousness, and when we communicate with the unconscious, we go through the Anima and not the Shadow. 

 

James

Yes, yeah, okay, okay, that makes sense. I guess the key point in there is that it’s a relating factor. So to do a frame-shift of– ‘the woman within’ is phrased generally, from my experience, as a sexual function. It’s like, you walk down the street and there’s a beautiful girl in front of you and you Anima-project against her, and obviously the idea with that is it’s to inspire you in presumably a reproductive manner to find a girl with the best possible genes that match your genes and then you can go and produce children. So it’s a survival instinct-based within – but you said it was a relating factor, so I guess this means is whenever it comes to relating to somebody else, or to an object, or to an idea, the Anima is the interface through which you do that. Is that correct?

Steve
It is correct, yes. With respect to sexuality, of course, you should have some modicum of relating to whoever you’re going to have sex with – so in that sense, the Anima will be involved. It’s– you can tell a lot– here’s another one of my little “rules of thumb” observations based on decades of experience: the way a man treats women externally and the way he treats his unconscious internally are pretty much the same thing. So if you get a man who abuses women, generally then he’s afraid of his own psyche. He’s afraid of his unconscious. If he relates well to women, then he’ll relate well to his unconscious – and also vice versa. A man who can communicate well with his psyche will pretty much automatically communicate well with women. And that’s because it’s the relating function. So that’s a rule of thumb, just get that one out. And that follows on from what I said earlier: that, for a man, the Anima is not a woman. Not an internal woman. It just tends to be projected onto women. And we can elaborate on this in due course – but just to get those two things clear, I think would be really helpful.

 

James

Sweet, okay, okay. So obviously, it’s not exclusively related to women; obviously, you do have an Anima projection onto beautiful women. Of course, that is then conflated with the idea of Anima as such. So I guess a good way, perhaps, a way into this topic is individuation and– you know, as you individuate, the general idea is you integrate the contents of your current Shadow – or your Alter Ego, as we’re going to be covering on this channel fairly, fairly soon – and then you come in and you enter into a dance with the Anima. But you’ve told me before that you – as you said earlier, I guess – you can kind of ignore the Shadow a little bit, can’t you? The Anima’s not within the Shadow and you have to integrate the Shadow first or “integrate” first to reach her. So is the Anima, we’ll say, beckoning to you and active and being that relating factor throughout your entire life?

 

Steve

Yes, indeed. The Anima is present right from the get-go, whereas the Shadow is a compensatory function that develops in parallel with the Ego – with normal consciousness. So you are this subject of relating immediately [when] you’re born from usually the mother, from your primary caregiver. So in that sense, the Anima is active immediately and is anticipated biologically. The Shadow as it’s normally understood, which is a Personal Shadow – we refer to it as being the Alter Ego complex, the nuclear complex of the Personal Unconscious – that’s a developmental factor that emerges later on. So when Jungians advise that you must tackle the Shadow first, I disagree completely with that because the Anima is active anyway all the time, and there is absolutely nothing wrong – either in personal development or in clinical work – with addressing both the Shadow and the Anima more or less simultaneously because they’re both there.

 

James

Okay, so I guess the idea with that then is we always have an Anima; we have it from [when] we’re very, very young. Now as far as I’m concerned or I’m aware, there are five main archetypes, right: you have the Persona, the Shadow, the Anima, the Animus, and the Self –  kind of like these core five. There might be more, depending on the definition of “archetype”, but in terms of general dialectic, these would be the five main ones – I think, anyway – that seem to come up. And these – as far as I’m concerned or, again, aware – are based at the genetic level or the Collective Unconscious. In other words, we all share them. And as– the nature of archetypes is they’re more patterns that are impressed upon by your particular surroundings. So if you’re born with, say, the Anima – all of us, as an impression or a pattern – over the course of your life, things come and they will change your particular version of the Anima relative to somebody else. So what are those things that will define the nature of your particular Anima?

 

Steve

That’s a very interesting question, and again it’s possible to address this at a very superficial level – the kind of level, frankly, you get in a lot of Jungian works. However, think of it developmentally. The prime imprinter of a man’s Anima will be his initial caregiver, whoever that is – but we’ll assume, for the sake of discussion, that it’s the mother. So the prime imprinter is the relationship to the mother. The mother is obviously the one who gives physical support, emotional support, social support. This is anticipated genetically, so the child is in sync with the mother’s psychology immediately – so the Anima is beginning to form immediately. Now, with a male – and we’re talking, obviously, about the Anima here and that has most relevance for men, at this stage at least – then the relationship to the mother is the prime imprinter not only of those factors that I’ve mentioned, but it’s also a confirmation element for a young man to be a young man: to be a male child. A young boy will model masculinity from his father, and in a sense that’s obviously very, very important, but the prime confirmation that you are indeed male comes from the opposite sex, and this is again a biological factor. So the mother will confirm in a young boy that “yes, you are a young boy and you will become a man like your father and like your father’s peers”. So it’s very, very important – the relationship to the mother, right from the get-go, informing the Anima. Now with respect to how that shapes, you get an Anima complex, which is – as you rightly say – is based on the personal experiences a young man will have of various women. Again, these are all going to be anticipated biologically, even though these relationships are social. It may well be sisters, extended family, school teachers, children in the street and so forth, but all of these encounters will begin to shape the Anima complex on top of the archetypal base which was first released onto the mother. 

 

James

Mmhmm, gotcha, okay. So to break down: we’d have the Anima, but then there’s also this Anima complex. What’s the core difference between these two particular things?

 

Steve

Well, the Anima archetype is inexperienceable directly. Jung referred to it as being a ‘virtual image’ – so that’s like something that’s been implanted genetically in us which will have indefinite characteristics. With respect to the specifics, the definite characteristics– with respect to the overall life-span development of a male child. So if you like, the complex rounds off and gives proper form – definite, experienceable, individual form – to the archetype.

 

James

Ah, so it’s kind of like the relating factor to the relating factor, if I kind of understand – okay, okay, cool. So it’s obviously impressed upon by all these different characters. You mentioned before, as well, a very key figure – perhaps with mine and perhaps with everybody else’s – is the idea of the ‘first love’. This is– could this be at any age? So, for example, I was doing some of my Personal Myth stuff yesterday which was bringing up a lot of things I didn’t– I couldn’t remember for years and years and years, and there was a girl that I was dating when I was about 9, and she was – I’m not going to be vain here, but she was kind of obsessed with me. I remember why: it’s because I swooped in like a knight in shining armour to save her from some bullies. She was actually tied – it was horrible – tied to a chair by these bullies, and I swept in and was like: “No! I am your knight in shining armour!” And I pushed them away, and I untied her, and from that moment on she was very much attached to me. And she would randomly come up and kiss me; my mum used to drive her home, for example, after school, and at the end she’d always kiss me and sort of whatever else. But I wouldn’t clout her as my ‘first love’, if you like: there was no attachment on my end except kind of an ego rush. But I did, and I was about 16 – that’s when my real ‘first love’ was. So by ‘first love’, is it first, say, sexual contact, which is technically kissing with another person? Or [does] it have to have that strong emotional ‘love’-type resonance, if you see what I mean?

Steve

I would say the latter out of the two because the latter comes first, usually. Usually it’s an experience rather like Beatrice in Dante’s Inferno, and that is really what Jung called a ‘sign stimulus’ – taking it from ethology – an environmental ‘sign stimulus’ which triggers what they call an ‘innate release mechanism’. In other words: there’s the trigger, the programme is released, and then the projection goes out onto the object. And you have a subjective experience then which includes a rush of hormones and the anticipation of an archetypal pattern being fulfilled. So the rush of hormones is reinforcing, and you want it again – you want to do it again, and you want to seek out that object and find out why it makes you feel so good. But you also introject, as well, aspects of that experience, and it will attach itself firstly to the Anima complex and then more deeply to the Anima archetype. This becomes a dialectic. So when the Ego checks itself to try to understand what’s happening to it in this young man’s mind, he will access an impression of the virtual archetype itself in reference to the complex – in other words, the personal experience – and then you get this resultant effect which starts to form part of the Personal Myth of the ‘first love’, the ‘ideal girlfriend’, and so forth. 

 

James

So is that why, generally, the ‘first love’– is it because it’s the first time it’s happened? Because, in terms of memory– so, you know, you have a first love and it’s the first time it’s happened, so therefore memory-wise, it’s great. You kind of remember it. Or is it because, by definition of these patterns, as you say, being released forth genetically, that that’s why it’s so significant. So why is it ‘first love’, necessarily? Basically, to sum that up, you might have ‘first love’, ‘second love’, ‘third love’, ‘fiftieth love’ – do they all, generally speaking, decrease in kind of emotional weight? In emotional quality? Or will they all inform it?

 

Steve

No, they won’t – they won’t decrease. But to go back to what you said, I would say it’s actually both. They are both present, they are both factors, and they interact. It doesn’t decrease. There is a conditioning or an associative effect, which is why Jung talked about a man having an ‘Anima type’, which is really based partly on experience but also partly on anticipation of the archetype-in-itself. You’ve also got epigenetic elements here, because you may well have had ancestors – male ancestors – who preferred or experienced a certain type of image of a woman or an actual physical relationship, so to speak, and that then becomes part of the epigenetics that are translated down to you. And it could be that you prefer a certain look in a girl because your great-grandfather did.

 

James

Really?

 

Steve

Yes, it could even go back further than that. When you think that archetypal virtual images are so firmly written into our genome, that– it must be of immense power. Must be. But there are modifications that will come about through epigenetics, and then there are further modifications that come about through personal experience as well. 

 

James

Okay, okay. So it sounds– so there is this ultimate destiny that underlies all of mankind, we all kind of share this, but it does very much become personal. So as you engage with the Anima and the Anima complex and those resultant images properly, you break away from the general myth of Princess Leia coming to redeem you and giving you a kiss when you save her, and it becomes your own personal version of that.

 

Steve

Just to go back to the “Star Wars” example – because it’s a good one, I guess. That provides a backdrop: it’s rather like going to see a Shakespearian play and then you see something acted out which you can then project in and identify with, resonate with to a certain extent. And this is why archetypes – properly – are not individual characters, but whole narratives. This is why myths exist. This is even why people watch soap operas: as boring as they appear to be, they’re very dream-like. Very, very dream-like. And they’re inductive, and people see repeated patterns in soap operas that are acted out with the same kind of characters who flow through. And you can see definitely there is a pattern – an archetypal pattern – that underpins that. That’s why people get addicted to them: because they’re acting out their own life-span development potential in relationship to this narrative – not to a character. You take the character pout of the narrative, it’s dead – it’s meaningless. That princess from “Star Wars” means nothing outside of that narrative – unless you have made a personal investment by watching that film in that character, at which point you have introjected the princess into your own psyche, she becomes part of your Anima complex. That image then triggers the Anima archetype, and you find yourself thinking about her all the time, ruminating – and it then gets projected back out. You start looking for that girl.

 

James

Okay, that’s really interesting. You know, some of my older friends, say, of my dad’s generation– obviously, Princess Leia is not so much an image for my generation– but she really was for the older generation, and I’ve seen some people who basically – they live in “Star Wars”. And they still live in “Star Wars”: they went to see it in 1977 or ’78, and they come away and it’s like: “Princess Leia is the girl for me.” They make a joke out of this in pop culture, I believe – it could be “Friends”, which I don’t like, but Jayne does like “Friends” – there’s this whole thing about the Princess Leia bikini and how every man’s fantasy is for everyone to wear Princess Leia’s bikini, which for me doesn’t make any sense. But I guess from what you’re saying in terms of an introject, it’s not Princess Leia as an objective character which is resonating with people, it’s what they have put into the image of Princess Leia, right? That would be an introject. 

 

Steve

Yeah. You have the narrative, which is the film and the story, which men then engage with; and then having engaged, they – as you’d say – introject out. They appropriate that, they assimilate it to their Anima complex – and then the thing starts to behave autonomously, as complexes do. Particularly powerful ones, ones that are meant to be powerful because they’re pushed by instinct, like the Anima complex backed up by the archetype. And this is where it can problematic, because it can then start to influence the whole economy, if you like, of the psyche. It can be effected by that one image.

 

James

Yep, okay. So I guess we’ve covered the Anima in brief detail as, like, a general idea. I’m interested, then, in terms of building up to this idea of actually ‘wedding the Anima’ and what that means, but I guess first of all: the Anima itself is – as it is shown in films, and I think people usually like to see – would be the ‘love interest’. But it also comes across in a negative form as well. You’ve got the same with all of these different ideas: there is a positive pole, and there is a negative pole. So in what ways could this Anima complex – I imagine it would be the complex rather than the actual archetype itself – come out in a negative form.

 

Steve

It’s both.

 

James

Both? Okay. Well, ‘cos, to use the example – you project onto a girl, she’s beautiful, and it draws you towards her – just as the most concrete, everyday example everyone might have experiences with. How might that manifest with another girl if it was a negative pole of the Anima projecting?

 

Steve

Well, the first and obvious one is you might be rejected, and then there’s the back draft of the energy which you’ve imbued this person with then flows back into you in a negative way and it effects your self-esteem. That’s the first layer – just the rejection layer. And then in terms of character, this might be a wholly inappropriate person to relate with, but you let them in because there’s a tendency then to not only project onto the love interest – it’s also to bring them into your being at every level, and that can effect your mental health and your physical health. Everybody will know what this means, because obviously relationships do go bad, but then people are still attached because of the ‘magic’ of the projection onto someone who’s basically an abuser, for example. So that’s that side of it. On the inside rather than on the outside, the negative Anima works by causing depression, creating superstition, creating a one-sided conscious attitude – for example, I’ll use the INTP configuration in the Myers-Briggs as an example. The negative Anima can frighten a man – who is, say, in this example, INTP – off and away from any notion that there’s value in his opposite – the ESFJ configuration. And that then becomes– turns into a kind of a superstitious thing, and that can lead to all sorts of problems. There’s a cascading effect: you can get OCD coming from something like this, and there’s all sorts of things. And, of course, the Anima is the mediator to the psyche for the conscious personality, for the Ego – so if the negative pole of the Anima is operating predominantly in a man, it’s going to stir everything. It’s much easier to deal with the notion of the Shadow negatively than it is to deal with the Anima negatively, because of the seductive element and because we’re being driven to find that ideal mate and to reproduce and there’s instinctive pressures pushing us and these are the deep psychological reasons why men make mistakes in choosing life partners.

 

James

I want to go back briefly to what you were saying on the whole rejection front because that– I’ve experienced that, but mostly in the social realm, actually, where – say, if I open up to somebody, perhaps historically under the influence of at least a small amount of alcohol, I’d open up; I’d reveal myself to them; I’d bring them in, all social boundaries gone. If there was any kind of rejection – or, perhaps, because of my particular type, INTP, the ‘Fe’ facsimileing as ‘Ne’ – presumed rejection on their particular behalf, I’d get a feeling that wasn’t quite depression, but it does fit with what– with how Jung described it in his Collected Works, “Anima possession”. And he described it, perhaps, in more colloquial words from his day as ‘acting like a woman’, basically – in those sort of typical terms, where I’d become sort of moody and withdrawn, “nobody likes me”, that sort of thing. Is that– would that be the negative pole of the Anima, then, as sort of a concrete example coming back at me?

 

Steve

Yes, but remember there is value even in the negative. Because–

 

James

In terms of a feedback and reorientation to make sure that you learn from the experience?

 

Steve

Absolutely. If you work with it, you have the impetus to change and to switch back into a positive relationship. So the potential for the positive and the negative exist internally as anticipations of real external experience, because our ancestors have experienced both sides of relationships – positive and negative. But a self-regulating psyche, if it’s working at its optimal level of homeostasis, would utilise the negative as impetus to restore the positive. If it’s not regulating properly for whatever reason, then you get an over-amping of the negative and you start to get psychopathology.

 

James

Okay. So in that rejection example, then, the lesson learned would be “don’t open up with people that quickly”? Because the initial response– if I was to listen completely to that– so obviously, you said the psyche is homeostatic in its balancing, so its compensation is not the complete answer, in a way. It’s not like reading your dreams tells you eternal wisdom, for example. So if I listen to its complete compensation, it would be: “Do not engage with people on that level unless you’ve got, like, a written contract that they’re not gonna reject you”, y’know? But I guess that’s not the case: it would be to listen to it and be more careful. Perhaps in my case it would be like: “Don’t have three pints with people who you haven’t met yet when you’re very, very excited.” Y’know, that kind of thing, right?

 

Steve

I think that there’s a specific problem to do with the state of our culture now that what you’ve just described about written contracts– yeah, that there is some – y’know – evidence of that going on. But the evolutionary aspect of our psyche has not anticipated that. It’s what Jung would have called contra naturam – it’s against nature to do that. The Self wants the two biological sexes to interact and reproduce, and that’s a main impetus for the psyche and for social relationships. If we go against that, we’re going to make mistakes – sometimes. Sometimes we’re going to move things on, but sometimes there’s going to be serious mistakes made – very, very serious mistakes. And those mistakes turn up firstly in individuals, and then in cultures – as being pathological. 

 

James

Mmm, gotcha – okay. So on this idea of then “wedding the anima”, we’ve got– we know what the Anima is; we’ve got this positive pole; we’ve got this negative pole, which perhaps is a resultant of the positive pole initially – you’ve got all this emotion, you’ve got all these ideas– but Jung did speak about the idea of “wedding the Anima”, and of course, over individuation, it’s an idea to have. What, precisely then, does that mean?

 

Steve

Okay. What I’m trying to do is to keep away from too much over symbolisation, if you follow my drift on that. It’d be very, very easy to talk about the Chymical Wedding and alchemy–

 

James

Yep.

 

Steve

–the Mysterium, the Coniunctionis, all of that stuff – and to me, that’s an abstraction away from everyday life for most people and it’s unnecessary because it’s symbolic. So we need to keep away from that. If you’re going to – first of all – understand that the Anima exists objectively, outside of the Ego, now that’s a task in and of itself. It mediates through symbols – absolutely, yes – and we can file all the evidence we need for this and it’s in Jung’s Collected Works, that’s all there. But if you go after the symbol, the problem is that symbols are hypnotic: they induct people, they fascinate them, and they start to lose their direction and their orientation to everyday life. And I don’t recommend people do that. I don’t. Because if they have any psychopathology at all in them– and who hasn’t? – there’ll be a tendency, then, to move away from reality and towards the fascination of the inner world. And you’re much more likely to become victim to the negative Anima if you do that. 

 

James

Yeah.

 

Steve

So, having said all of that– right, then, I’m going to have to use some metaphors. First of all, for analogies, you cannot integrate the Anima into the Ego. You just cannot do it: it’s the wrong choice of words. The Anima is a huge, huge thing in terms of structure, in terms of energy, and in terms of content. You can’t do it. The Ego is a relatively small thing. It’s the nuclear complex of consciousness which contains an aspect of our Persona – that aspect that we’re aware of – and also our Self Concept. It has an executive role in adaptation to the outer world, and a receptive – and then later, interactive – role with respect to the inner world. So it’s quite a small thing. It’s known in experimental psychology, for example, that consciousness can only hold a certain amount of information before it reaches overload, and they talk about the magic number of “7 plus or minus 2” chunks of information. That’s it –  that’s all you’ve got. Now, you think about something as big as the Anima in terms of just a complex – all of the summation of your experiences throughout the whole of your life, however old that you may be at any one time – you could not cram all of that into that narrow consciousness and expect the Ego to function. It would not: it would burst, it would fragment. Now that’s one way of describing it. Another way of describing the problem of trying to assimilate something that’s too big for the conscious personality to hold is to say that the person becomes insane or psychotic. You don’t want that either. 

 

James

Preferably not, no. 

 

Steve

Definitely not. So the proper way to look at the Anima is to align it to the Ego, to align it to consciousness, which – again, using a metaphor – if you imagine that you have the Ego complex here, that’s the nuclear complex of consciousness, with a field around it of what can be conscious, and then we move the Anima complex firstly into a safe distance from it where there can be communication and some of the contents of the Anima complex can be assimilated functionally into the Ego. But if you try and bring this in – and bear in mind, it will be massive – it would just destroy the Ego. You can’t do that. And if you do try and do that, unless you have one of these two systems in place– 

•    a religion to contain those forces: it is possible up to a point, but even then the religion will run out of its capacity to control it.

•    secondarily, some kind of creative or artistic expression: that can act as a lightning rod, a conductor, a way of taking this really powerful energy and putting it into the outside world–

–and this is something that we should discuss in a later podcast, because creativity is essential if you’re going to relate to the unconscious. It wants to produce things, it wants to create changes in the outside world, and it has a massive bandwidth – massive – which is why it communicates in symbols. Symbols are very [effective] broadband-information carriers, so if you can then create a symbol on the outside world, you transfer that force from within your mind and put it into something concrete that you can relate to safely. So religion and art can, to some extent, contain these massive tidal forces from the unconscious. You can’t just rationally try and integrate it into Ego-consciousness: it’ll blow you away. But what you can do is bring it into relationship consciously and then have an exchange of energy and information between those structures, so you modify the Ego sufficiently to be able to relate to it. You’re much more likely to maintain a healthy – and therefore positive – relationship to the Anima if you do that than otherwise. And I’m sorry if that’s technical, but that’s the way it is, that’s–

 

James

No, no, no, that makes perfect sense. On the creativity front, just really quickly, because it mirrors my own story in a way: there are people who, for example, are in a 9-to-5, and there’s a big meme on the Internet – especially in online business spheres, perhaps inappropriately – which is, like, “escape the 9-to-5”, “be yourself”, “do all this other stuff”. And obviously lots of people can’t do that, they have to sustain themselves financially, they have to eat. But if you’re saying the creativity in some [form] is essential for relating with the Anima and the Anima complex, then it makes sense as to why people who fall into a 9-to-5 job they don’t enjoy – perhaps sitting in an office – come away being depressed and anxious and they don’t understand it. And then – from my experience, anyway – the way especially young guys tend to compensate for that is masculine images, which is the idea of “grind”. It’s called “hustle porn” and things like that on the Internet, which is “work harder”, “grind, grind”–

 

Steve

I’ll tell you what that is. That’s an over-amping of one-sidedness. If a man over-amps himself in terms of his masculinity, then the subtext to that on an instinctive level is you’re more likely to attract women, obviously. You’re pumping weights or you’re being “alpha” or whatever, then you draw women to you. Well, that’s because you’re not going to them. If you have to attract them to you, you’re not going to them and attracting them actively. It’d a passive instinctive default position, and it has problems. It has problems for health, although these men would not want to accept that, because they’re just over-amping their masculinity – and of course, they are men, and they therefore think to do that is the right thing. But that’s a positive feedback loop that’s going in a negative direction. If they made themselves more interesting to women, they could conserve an awful lot of this excess energy that goes into pumping themselves up in the wrong ways. You make yourself more interesting to women not only by being a good, strong man who can go out and get resources, but by being able to relate to them and offering other things. And this is where an understanding of the Animus – the equivalent of the Anima in women – is vital for men. But again, there’s a tendency for men to want to only understand what they imagine as the ‘woman within’, and therefore miss completely the fact that if you have a social relationship to a woman, you’re going to interface with her Animus. And if you don’t know what that is; if you don’t know what the nature of the Animus is; what it expects in terms of biology and depth psychology; what its anticipations are of you as a man – you’re gonna mess up again. And what do you do then? You fall back on default instinct. And the purpose of that default instinct really has nothing to do with relationships, but competition between men. So they can kill each other, and then: “Look, girls, you’ve got to breed with me, ‘cos I’m the last man standing.” And when you think about it, that is a really bad positive feedback loop. 

 

James

Yes, it is, it is.

 

Steve

And it allows the negative Animus in women to start to talk about toxic masculinity. 

 

James

Full circle to the whole politics realm. Okay, well– I guess, at the beginning, you described the Anima as the ‘relating factor’, and I guess you can see based in what you said – in terms of this positive feedback loop – how they’re missing that ‘cos they’re not relating to actual, real women. Okay. Well, that makes perfect sense. So creativity and religion and things like that can help you contain and get closer to the Anima and the Anima complex: how would one, generally speaking from your clinical experience, begin to relate closer to their own Anima and their Anima complex in a productive way – which you would colloquially call, metaphorically call, “wedding the Anima”? Is it relating to real life women? Is that the primary way of doing it? 

 

Steve

It’s the primary way, because we were talking in a developmental sense earlier about what happens when you form the Anima complex and before that– the primary caregiver, all of that’s early on. I think we’re assuming now this is later on. 

 

James

[Yes.] So, for example, an audience member comes here and they’re like– either they’ve heard from us or they read in Jung’s works, they’re like: “Okay, how do I develop my Anima?” You know, they’re ready, they’re raring to go. 

 

Steve

Well, most people are only ever going to become conscious of this when a problem arises. It’s just the way it is. People live in their Ego. They live in their field of consciousness – which is why you should do everything you can to increase your capacity from consciousness. Not just in terms of chunked bits of information that I was describing before, but what’s contained in those chunked bits of information – what you can refer to. And this is basically your education in life as you go along. If you lack that, then every encounter you have with the Anima is likely to be some form of conflict. And you asked me specifically clinically – well, obviously, if it’s a clinical scenario, then there’s been a problem, and that’s what you see. Now, the Anima is present as a force throughout life – much more so than the Shadow, as I want to explain. It goes deeper into the personality and covers everything. So any kind of significant psychopathology – anything – you will find the Anima is active there, but not necessarily the Shadow. I’ll give you a clinical example.

 

James

Please do.

 

Steve

This particular chap was in his 50s, and this was a long time ago – nearly 30 years ago – and he was a very good-looking guy. He looked like– I can never remember his name– famous Hollywood guy, and he used to play up on that, a Hollywood actor from the 40s– Cary Grant.

 

James

Oh yes, yes.

 

Steve

He was the spit of him, and a really nice guy. But he had the most crippling OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – and he worked in an accountancy department, which made it worse because his environment reinforced the ritual counting and so forth, and he was absolutely crippled by that. He happened to be married to a ‘Relate’ counsellor in the UK. ‘Relate’ is a– it used to be called the ‘Marriage Guidance Centre’, they specialise in relationships. And she was a very nice woman, very facilitative, went well with him in terms of appearance and in terms of education and culture. On the surface, everything was fine. But he had this terrible OCD – and then he became fascinated with a woman whose name was Stone. I’ll say that, because there’s no way you can [track her] and it is relevant. There’s no way anybody could track this down – so long ago, and so many things have happened since. Miss Stone became the obsession of his life, and it was his secret that he then carried a stone around in his pocket that was Miss Stone. And, of course, you and I will know – and anyone who’s educated on Jung will know – what the likely symbolism behind that was. He became a medical referral, and what we had to do then was get inside what the symbol meant and what the projection onto Miss Stone meant. Bear in mind, he had a very good marriage with a very nice wife: there was no reason at all for him, it would appear, to project onto a woman outside of his marriage – but he did. And it was all to do with the Anima’s capacity and function to relate on the inside. Now, he trusted us completely: he literally, despite what he went through and his intense– I mean, he would sweat profusely, it was so bad. The physiological side of his condition was absolutely terrible – one of the worst I’ve ever seen, the anxiety and the pumping of adrenaline. He put himself into our hands and trusted us completely. We did a full case history and then we did what call an ‘enactment’, which is very different to ‘psychodrama’. You basically have a controlled environment and you’ll have maybe 6 or 7 therapists with one patient or client. The room is full of symbols, the light is toned down, and basically you create a waking dream for that person. Everyone in that room knows the case history – they’ve all been fully briefed. The other 4 or 5 therapists have never met this person before, [and] never will meet them again – but they’re there on his side. [The patient is] gradually dissociated and brought into this 3-dimensional dream to do with their problems, where they pick up symbols and pictures or whatever it is to articulate their inner experience. And that then went on, so the therapists start to get actively involved. As happens with dreams, of course, the fabric starts to evolve – and it turned out that, when he was 5 years old at school, he stole a penknife from a locker in his school and he took it home. And his father humiliated him and said: “No, you’re coming back with me now, and you’re gonna give that back to the teacher” – a woman. And he felt humiliated: the pen– sorry, the penknife became a symbol for his masculinity and how that was humiliated in front of a woman. Years later, that turns up as OCD. We asked his wife to be present to witness this, because she was sceptical – because it was completely outside of her technical experience to work in this way. ‘Relate’ counsellors [and] therapists work, compared to Depth Psychologists, very, very superficially. But she witnessed what was going on and was extremely moved by it – the whole atmosphere was very, very powerful. And at a key point, when he began to sweat again profusely and shake and when we saw everything digging in, one of our colleagues put this black cape over him[self] and then stood on a chair so he was 7 or 8 feet tall – or more – behind this guy – and he heard a noise, he looks over his shoulder, and then he grabs a plastic sword off the floor which represented the penknife. He stood up, shouted “EXCALIBUR!”, turned around, whacked this poor guy, knocked him off the chair, jumped on him with his plastic sword and started to beat him repeatedly. Funny when I look back now. But then when all opposition ceased from beneath the black cloth, he stood up and he held it aloft. And at that point, he was imbued with his masculine power in front of his woman, right? And he took Miss Stone out of his pocket and said: “I have no need of this anymore.” He’d taken the sword from the stone, and the Anima had released him in front of his wife, who was the confirming woman. Job done in one day. So 30 years of OCD dispensed with in about 2 hours. It took us about 2 hours. We then followed that up with follow-up sessions, we made sure everyone was alright, because there’s no Humpty Dumpty jobs: we don’t break people down and not put them back together, but that was a very emotional experience for all of us. I found out several years later he was still free. Still completely free. 

 

James

Fantastic.

 

Steve

And I mention the Anima because, you see, it wasn’t so much his father humiliating him: he was humiliated in front of a woman who was, like, in loco parentis for his mother. The school teacher in reception class. And the penknife, if you like, in a Freudian sense became… something else. And then it was all linked, and when it was time for him to solve this, he couldn’t do it – and he put up with OCD for 30 years, until the Anima in frustration said: “I’m gonna jump out on some woman called Stone and will get you to see that’s what you need to do.” Now we picked these elements up: obviously, we didn’t tell him what we thought it was. We didn’t tell him about Excalibur, we just left the plastic sword there, let him carry the stone around, and his psyche did it all by itself without any prompting from us. All the therapists were briefed, and we knew that we should offer the opportunity for him to do this, but it had to come from him – otherwise, it would not be genuine and he would not have won. 

 

James

Wow, okay – that’s a good story. Pulling the sword from the stone, as well, that’s–

 

Steve

He pulled the sword from the stone – a plastic one – and he was able to dispense with the stone. He came to me and he said: “What should I do in respect to Miss Stone?” and his fascination with her, and I said– this is controversial. Therapists would say it was, but again, I went on intuitions – I always go on intuitions. I said: “Sail as close to the wind as you possibly can without crossing that line of actually physically having an affair.” But I said: “If you don’t do that, you’re not going to be able to access the energy in your psyche which is powering the OCD and will also, paradoxically, release you once you understand fully what’s going on.” And he said “How am I going to do that?” And I said: “We have to go inside the psyche. We have to give you an opportunity to engage with it.” “Well, how will we do that?” And then I explained the enactment process to him. I said: “It’s tough; it’s very, very demanding; but everyone will be there for you – and your wife must be present if she would agree to it. Because she needs to witness what you’re going through in order to understand, as a ‘Relate’ counsellor, why you’re fascinated with another woman.”

 

James

Yes – so the idea isn’t, then, that you had – this is the whole sexual idea – that a more beautiful woman than your wife turned up and you’re projecting on her because it’s telling you to break away from your wife and instead breed with this woman. That’s not the case. It was the Anima trying to give a particular message to you as to why your current maladaptation – in this case, OCD – exists. It was trying to force your energy or to force the problem. So, to bring this full circle, I guess, to the idea of “wedding the Anima”, then, it’s not just a relating factor on the outside – it’s also the relating factor on the inside as well at the same time. So if you are, I guess, the end-result of having “wedded the Anima” or having strong– being more aligned with your own Anima and Anima complex, would you say that the biggest bio-marker of that is ‘you’re happy and you’re adapted’, controlling for other outside scenarios such as depression in a family member, for example? 

 

Steve

Yes. I always, you know – and other people have noted – I always go back to homeostasis and self-regulation. My justification for that is two-fold. [The first:] Jung himself said the psyche is a self-regulating system and it must be in balance. And the second justification for that is health. Optimal health. And working in front-line healthcare with a whole bandwidth of people suffering from all sorts of conditions taught me that you do that: you go for the optimal balance. Sometimes, when you treat a psychosomatic transduction – a stress reaction that turns up in the body symbolically – if you treat tht, other things self-correct. It’s like a car, y’know: once it develops one problem, it’ll develop another because of that problem – and if you put one thing right, other things then start to run better, and it’s exactly the same with people. But can I just interject and say that, when you said a more beautiful woman – I’ll be quite frank with you here – that in my experience, the actual quality of the woman that a man might project on outside of his relationship in terms of her good looks usually isn’t better than the wife because it’s not the important thing. Now, young men – forgive me – might think that it should be, because that would justify – justify, ad hoc – why they feel more attracted, perhaps, to a certain woman [that isn’t] the woman that they’re with. “How do I rationalise it? Well, she’s prettier” – well, very often, when men have affairs, it’s not with more attractive women than their wife. It’s with less attractive women, physically. It’s because something else is there that resonates internally rather than externally. And it happens with women as well: when women have affairs, very often it’s not with a better looking man, or a richer man, or a more intelligent man – it’s whatever is missing that’s not been properly worked through in that relationship. And to go back to “wedding the Anima”, it’s not a one-off thing –it’s a life-span thing. As you said earlier, it’s a continual process of adaptation and it depends what the challenges are at any one time for you to meet. Which is why I bring it back all the time to it being a relating function: if you relate properly, you’re going to have less problems – relate internally, relate externally. And understand that this is a dynamic force that you cannot integrate – you know, you just can’t do it. Because– what would you be? If the Ego-personality integrated the Anima, then what is it? At that point, it changes. What are you at that point? Where’s the Anima gone? “Well, it’s now my Ego” – no, it doesn’t work that way. You cannot do that. You can have a relationship to it, and you can assimilate aspects– contents from it – or, at least relate to them – but you certainly cannot “wed” as in blend completely. What Jung meant by the Mysterium and by the Chymical Wedding is that relationship to the Anima is like a wedding. You don’t actually blend, but you have a relationship. Marriage is a relationship: you don’t become one figure. You don’t. Even though in the Rosarium, for example, you see that, it’s a metaphor and it is not a literal thing. 

 

James

Yes, yeah, so you don’t become one, but it’s a relating thing so that you become close and aligned and you can dance with each other.

 

Steve

Yes. It’s symbolic of change from the previous state of being completely one-sided. But it is not a blend of masculine and feminine so you become a hermaphrodite psychologically as it’s depicted in the Rosarium. You know Volume 16 of the Collected Works, the Theory and Practice of Psychotherapy?

 

James

Yes.

 

Steve

You’ll see the whole thing laid out there– and the problem is when people read that, they think: “I’ve somehow got to integrate my Anima and become this psychological hermaphrodite.” But that is not what you’re meant to do. Because when you integrate the Anima, all you’re really doing is becoming aware of your relating function. You’re not actually integrating anything that’s feminine, because the Anima is a masculine [aspect] or an element of masculine psychology. There’s a few mistakes that people can make on the way, and they can get diverted from the reality of life for decades because they’ve misunderstood that one fundamental thing. 

 

James

I guess this makes sense because you said at the beginning, of course, or halfway through [that] you come to it with a problem. Because you are the Ego and you’re going about the world, but through a problem that then is an invitation to introspect. So I guess problems that come up – correct me if I’m wrong, to any audience member who’s interested in this type of thing – it’s like: are you suffering? Are you relating properly externally? Are you relating properly internally? And are you well-adapted? Or are there things– OCD, that, I feel, could be a really, really key one, because of course there’s the whole ‘Fap’, the whole ‘No Fap’ movement at the moment which is enormous, and perhaps rather than fixing that through ways typically people try and fix that, which would be willpower or top down value systems, it’s more a case of relating internally to your own personal thread – your own Personal Myth.

 

Steve

As I said earlier, that’s over-amped masculinity. One-sidedly. So it’s a positive feedback loop going in the wrong direction, leading to a negative result. If you want to integrate the Anima, you don’t over-amp masculinity. You don’t become feminine, but you don’t over-amp instinctive, baseline, default masculinity. You don’t do that. 

James

Okay. Well, that makes perfect sense. I guess we’ve covered the Anima and we’ve covered how one might go about integrating the Anima, including a really cool example. So I guess with that, it’s been nice talking with you, Steve, but maybe we should let people get on with their lives and us get on with our lives at the same time. 

 

Steve

See you again soon.

 

James

Yes, thank you, Steve. If anyone’s interested in some of the writings that Steve has been doing – he does this– I guess one of your new fun hobbies is to come onto the Discord server and be as helpful as you possibly can with as much information as you can – you can access those by joining up at our Patreon at the $5 tier or higher. It’s just to get into our Discord server – of course, we have other things on their too, including a chat with myself, a chat with Steve. We’ve got a whole community over there, we’ve got a whole suite of things to help take your development and your individuation to the next level. So with that, thank you everybody, and thank you Steve. Appreciate you.

 

Steve

Bye, everyone – see you soon.