The Lens of the Anima ~ JR Haule

Carl Jung Depth Psychology: Anima and Animus

I am putting the link to this article, as it is one I like and from time to time come back to. Some may find it useful.


The standard doctrine of anima and animus illustrates the problem very nicely. We say that when we fall in love we project our unconscious contra-sexual component onto our partner, and this invests our beloved with numinous significance. We leave the realm of the merely personal and the boringly everyday and enter an archetypal arena in which we are god and goddess to one another. So far so good. This even seems to be an inter-psychic theory — if we stop at this point.

But the theory goes on. It says that insofar as we have projected our own unconscious material onto our partner, we do not see her for the unique individual she is. We are blinded by our projection. True enough, there has to be some “fit” between our projection and the person of our beloved. There has to be a “hook” on which we “hang” the projection. But the projection itself, the anima or the animus, distorts our perception of the person who means more to us than all the world. It is an illusion, a falsification

(and then there is the withdrawal of the projection discussed in the article… far so typically Jungian….until….)

But what about my beloved? What happens to her while I withdraw into the hermetic efforts of my inner confrontation? If she is no more than the occasion for my grappling with my unconscious, we are not describing relationship at all. We’ve slipped into extreme solipsism in which relationship — the deep and extended encounter between two psyches — is merely an “epiphenomenon” of internal psychic dynamics.

The Jungian theory of anima projection and its withdrawal presents us with a false dichotomy. It implies that in the beginning all is blindness, and in the end all is sight. If we attend carefully to our experience, however, we see that this is not true. In the beginning our eyes are opened and we see in a powerful and new way. We may be drawn to false conclusions and unrealistic scenarios for the future. But the flashes of rightness in our initial vision are confirmed in the end. A painful refining process has to take place through the agency of the Naked Sword, if we are to become Majnun and not Heathcliff. But Heathcliff, too, was right when he declared that Catherine Earnshaw was his life and his soul. His mistake was to try to posses her — to bash her up onto the bank where he could snarf her down. It never dawned on him that he was to “pass away” through her…

Anyways. If you are interested, read the article.

The lens brings my beloved into focus, and it brings my Self into focus. It does both things at once. For in the originary experience when I see my beloved’s essential being and know what makes her tick — in that same moment I also know myself more essentially than I have ever done before.


Generally just Being. Nothing in particular, no claims to fame. I like gardening and the sea, nature, art in all forms from poetry to films and everything in between, and being in the company of my family.

Posted in Uncategorized, Western Mysticism

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