Desktop version

Home arrow History

  • Increase font
  • Decrease font

<<   CONTENTS   >>

The "talented psychopath”

Jung’s rejection of Salome is a case of the hero split off from his maternal feminine side. Yet he is led to an important discovery from her appearance - the feminine soul image in the male psyche, his own inner femininity:

I was greatly intrigued that a woman should interfere with me from within. My conclusion was that she must be the “soul” in the primitive sense, and I began to speculate on the reasons why the name “anima” was given to the soul . . . At first it was the negative aspect of the anima that most impressed me.

(Jung, 1965: 186)

His first writings on the anima and the feminine inevitably mirror Jung’s primitive disturbance. There is precious little of Jung’s appreciative attitude towards the anima overall in his telling of his confrontation with the unconscious.

The anima is formed not only by the male’s personal experiences with the maternal feminine, but with the archetypal ones as well, genuine experiences beyond the male projection upon a woman. This archetypal figure gets unconsciously projected onto certain feminine figures (when projections become operative), who in turn hold a correspondingly strong fascination for a man. “The projection-making factor is the anima, or rather the unconscious as represented by the anima” (Jung, 1970: 13). And Jung is the one who warned that if one is not conscious of his internal contradictions, he will project them outward, hence inflicting them upon himself in the form of fate (and “the instrument of fate is always woman, who knows and reveals [a man’s] secret thoughts” (Jung, 1955: 361). In normal development, the man’s feminine side is largely repressed, and this contributes to the constellation of the anima which, when projected, makes contact with a woman possible. The anima is also a factor of the utmost importance in the feeling life of a man where she “intensifies, exaggerates, falsifies, and mythologizes all emotional relations with his work and with other people of both sexes.” For Jung, the anima matches two different kinds of libido: one infantile, incestuous and backward looking, the other adolescent, procreative and forward looking. This theoretical version of Freud’s libido theory was one he could accept.

According to Jung, mother and anima form a reciprocal dynamic: experiences of mother form a core component of the anima, while “the numinous qualities which make the mother image so dangerously powerful derive from the collective archetype of the anima, which is incarnated in every male child” (Jung, 1951: 13). Patriarchal masculine development of consciousness conditions the constellation of the anima figure and its differentiation from the mother archetype. Because of the difference in anatomical sex, a son’s mother complex never appears in pure form. In every masculine mother complex, right alongside the archetype of the mother, a significant role is played by the image of a man’s sexual counterpart, the anima. The anima is a preexisting psychic image of woman, which means that a male’s perception of mother will always be obscured by the anima archetype. This emotional obscuring is behind a man’s statements about the mother, in the “sense of showing ‘animosity’ ” (Jung, 1955: 345-346). Anima experience overlays a man’s real experience of mother, which is then split off under the spell of ego repression for established men. This is where the patriarchally driven images of woman have particular relevance, which results in the anima’s appearance as a power figure from the very beginning.

To his credit, Jung intellectually understood that he experienced his own femininity through his projection upon women. This insight, however, doesn’t change the fact that most of what he has to say about the anima is the result of projection which he consequently takes to be real. While Jung could objectively see that the woman a man deals with most of the time is a projection of his own anima, he remains blind to the shame he unconsciously projects in order to maintain his position of power.

Spielrein was just one of many women held hostage to Jung’s anima projections, but her voice was the one that Jung’s inner anima figure adopts. The fact that the voice is Spielrein’s underscores her connection with Salome and amplifies the meaning of Jung’s visions. As a scientifically trained doctor, Jung wondered about the processes he was undergoing, and whether they could still be called science - or were they art? Was psychoanalysis a science, in which case rival hypotheses were essential to a meaningful examination of the data? Or was it an art, in which case the original artist had the right to enforce his own view as to how his creation is to be completed. At this point, a female voice intruded itself and said “it is art.” Jung recognized the voice as belonging to one of his “patients,” “a talented psychopath who had a strong transference to me . . . she had become a living figure within my mind” (1965: 185).

<<   CONTENTS   >>

Related topics