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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Healing the Negative Animus – CREDO LVI

As most of you know, Jung discerned that all individuals internalize their opposite gender: in men, he termed it the anima; in women, the animus. He started out by perceiving that men, when acting unconsciously, became moody and irrational and women became logical and commanding “know-it-alls,” which we can see reflected in the daily funny papers in the characters of “Peanuts”: Charlie Brown and Lucy!

Jung went on to point out that the male subsequently projects his ideal anima onto girls and women, and vice-versa, causing unpredictable results. He discovered this with a shock in his own personal life! This also explains how often women complain that their lovers and husbands don’t see them as they really are, and so transference in analysis often involves real love for the analyst, who appears interested in who they are and what goes on inside them,

Later these unconscious contra-sexual archetypal components acquired more differentiated characteristics. The negative animus is no Lucy but is the woman who has low self-esteem and interjects all criticisms and colludes secretly with them. Men, for generations have succeeded in keeping women in their “inferior” place. One early Church father went so far as to ask, “Habeat mulier animam?” Does a woman have a soul?

I thought I would share a few healing stories about this so-called “negative animus.” I will start with the negative aspect, as it is one I know full well from personal experience, as do many women of my generation which came before Gloria Steinem and the feminist movement. Incidentally, this crusade began with a collective animus that was angry and combative, almost masculine in voice.

My discovery concerning the negative animus was in the early seventies when I was practicing in New York. I have mentioned two of these women before, because of the synchronicities involved. Both had negatively inflated egos. One was suffering from what the Roman Catholics define as scrupulosity, which is sin-searching in oneself to such a degree that one considers oneself the absolutely worst specimen ever born! She is the woman to whom I quoted Jesus’ reprimand that if you have a light it is not right to hide it under a bushel basket, and, unbeknownst to me, she was looking over my shoulder at a stack of bushel baskets! We happened to be sitting in the basement of the analyst’s house. The other was the woman suffering from a similar complex to whom I quoted the lovely words of the Hindu Dadaji: God is making love in your heartbeat twenty-four hours a day, at which point the furnace went on and pumped throughout the remainder of the session and was recorded on the tape.

These two are examples of inflated negative animus, but here is one not as extreme: the client was a charming young woman in her twenties who was studying at the Union Theological Seminary. She was pretty, pink-cheeked, with golden ringlets. All she needed were wooden shoes and she would have been a classic young Dutch girl. She was a mite plump but not fat. Her problem: she considered herself so ugly that she was almost suicidal! Compared to me, she was a sylph! But her eyes filled with tears and she added a stream of other shortcomings. I was appalled by the history of family put-downs. I prayed for guidance and seeing in her a redeeming sense of humor, it occurred to me that a mantra might come in handy. I proposed to give her one.

She leaned forward eagerly, and I realized the strength of her projection onto me. It was as if she were thinking whatever this woman will tell me, I will apply.

“Well,” I said, “whenever you hear this critical voice within you, this is the mantra: ‘HEAH COMES DE JEDGE!!’”

This is a quote from a play about black people called Green Pastures and is a famous line I think Flip Wilson often quoted later on TV. I share this because I imagine many others besides myself could use this mantra!

I consider myself an expert at this problem, and what helped me most was my waking to my own stupidity in viewing Saturn in the chart as always that negative Critical Judge. The positive personification of his process is the Wise Old Man! I had been living most of my life with an animus Shadow that was like an ugly unloved homunculus locked up in the cellar of my unconscious. Whenever I would have some neat idea of something I could accomplish, he would pop up from below and tell me why I couldn’t do it! So the next time this happened, I shouted at him and said: “I know why I can’t but maybe you can tell me how I could!!

“Well,” says he, as my active imagination continued, “I’ve waited fifty years for you to say this! Now come along and I’ll show you how. You just need your ego to plug into your Self (Divine Guest) and Sophia will connect you.” The result, for better or worse, is most likely the eight books and these Credos that have come so late in my life. But those of you who have visited here may have noticed a stuffed puppet of a bearded dwarf who sits in my office with a pointed hat and a gleam in his eye. His name is Kazook and he came as a gift from a client shortly after I discovered the positive healing aspect of Saturn and my own negative animus. Of course, I still have attacks, but I do use that mantra!



Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this! I'm a woman in her early fifties, who has always lived with that critical voice. "the woman who has low self-esteem and interjects all criticisms and colludes secretly with them." That's me! I've tried for 30 years in every way I could imagine to get this voice off my back, and have just discovered Jungian analysis, giving it another shot.

"The positive personification of [Saturn] is the Wise Old Man!" What a nice thought!

“'I know why I can’t but maybe you can tell me how I could!'

'Well,' says he, as my active imagination continued, 'I’ve waited fifty years for you to say this!'"

I do hope that something like the above will work for me!

Sue said...

Thank you very much for this post :)