btw Dr. Carl Gustav Jung – archetypes
The collective unconscious was expressed through ‘archetypes’, universal thought-forms or mental images that influenced an individual’s feelings and action. The experience of archetypes often paid little heed to tradition or cultural rules, which suggests that they are innate projections. A newborn baby is not a blank slate but comes wired ready to perceive certain archetypal patterns and symbols. This is why children fantasize so much, Jung believed: they have not experienced enough of reality to cancel out their mind’s enjoyment of archetypal imagery.
Archetypes have been expressed as myths and fairytales, and at a personal level in dreams and visions. In mythology they are called ‘motifs’, in anthropology ‘représentations collectives‘. German ethnologist Adolf Bastian referred to them as ‘elementary’ or ‘primordial’ thoughts that he saw expressed again and again in the cultures of tribal and folk peoples. But they are not simply of anthropological interest; usually without knowing it, archetypes shape the relationships that matter in our lives.
Anima means soul with a female form. In mythology it is expressed as a siren, a mermaid, a wood-nymph, or any form which ‘infatuates young men and sucks the life out of them’. In ancient times, the anima came represented either as a goddess or a witch – that is, aspects of the female which were out of men’s control.
When a man ‘projects’ the feminine aspect within his psyche onto an actual woman, that woman takes on magnified importance. The archetype makes itself present in a man’s life either by infatuation, idealization or fascination with women. The woman herself does not really justify these reactions, but acts as the target to which his anima is transferred. This is why the loss of a relationship can be so devastating to a man. It is the loss of a side of him that he has kept external.
Every time there is an extreme love or fantasy or entanglement, the anima is at work in both sexes. She does not care for an orderly life, but wants intensity of experience – life, in whatever form. The anima, like all archetypes, may come upon us like fate. She can enter our life either as something wonderful or as something terrible – either way her aim is to wake us up. To recognize the anima means throwing away our rational ideas of how life should be lived, and instead admitting, as Jung puts it, that “Life is crazy and meaningful at once”.