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Carl Jung on Fantasies, Art, Anima


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Memories Dreams Reflections

When I was writing down these fantasies, I once asked myself, ‘What am I really doing? Certainly this has nothing to do with science. But then what is it?”

Whereupon a voice within me said, “It is art.”

I was astonished. It had never entered my head that what I was writing had any connection with art.

Then I thought, “Perhaps my unconscious is forming a personality that is not me, but which is insisting on coming through to expression.”

I knew for a certainty that the voice had come from a woman. I recognized it as the voice of a patient, a talented psychopath who had a strong transference to me.

She had become a living figure within my mind.

Obviously what I was doing wasn’t science.

What then could it be but art? It was as though these were the only alternatives in the world. That is the way a woman’s mind works.

I said very emphatically to this voice that my fantasies had nothing to do with art, and I felt a great inner resistance.

No voice came through, however, and I kept on writing.

Then came the next assault, and again the same assertion: “That is art.”

This time I caught her and said, “No, it is not art!

On the contrary, it is nature/* and prepared myself for an argument.

When nothing of the sort occurred, I reflected that the “woman within me” did not have the speech centers I had.

And so I suggested that she use mine.

She did so and came through with a long statement.

I was greatly intrigued by the fact 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.

Why was it thought of as feminine?

Later I came to see that this inner feminine figure plays a typical, or archetypal, role in the unconscious of a man, and I called her the “anima.”

The corresponding figure in the unconscious of woman I called the “animus.”

At first it was the negative aspect of the anima that most impressed me. I felt a little awed by her.

It was like the feeling of an invisible presence in the room.

Then a new idea came to me: in putting down all this material for analysis I was in effect writing letters to the anima, that is, to a part of myself with a different viewpoint from my conscious one.

I got remarks of an unusual and unexpected character.

I was like a patient in analysis with a ghost and a woman!

Every evening I wrote very conscientiously, for I thought if I did not write, there would be no way for the anima to get at my fantasies.

Also, by writing them out I gave her no chance to twist them into intrigues.

There is a tremendous difference between intending to tell something and actually telling it.

In order to be as honest as possible with myself, I wrote everything down very carefully, following the old Greek maxim: “Give away all that thou hast, then shalt thou receive.”

Often, as I was writing, I would have peculiar reactions that threw me off.

Slowly I learned to distinguish between myself and the interruption.

When something emotionally vulgar or banal came up, I would say to myself, “It is perfectly true that I have thought and felt this way at some time or other, but I don’t have to think and feel that way now.

I need not accept this banality of mine in perpetuity; that is an unnecessary humiliation.

The essential thing is to differentiate oneself from these unconscious contents by personifying them, and at the same time to bring them into relationship with consciousness.

That is the technique for stripping them of their power.

It is not too difficult to personify them, as they always possess a certain degree of autonomy, a separate identity of their own.

Their autonomy is a most uncomfortable thing to reconcile oneself to, and yet the very fact that the unconscious presents itself in that way gives us the best means of handling it.

What the anima said seemed to me full of a deep cunning.

If I had taken these fantasies of the unconscious as art, they would have carried no more conviction than visual perceptions, as if I were watching a movie.

I would have felt no moral obligation toward them.

The anima might then have easily seduced me into believing that I was a misunderstood artist, and that my so-called artistic nature gave me the right to neglect reality.

If I had followed her voice, she would in all probability have said to me one day, “Do you imagine the nonsense you’re engaged in is really art? Not a bit.”

Thus the insinuations of the anima, the mouthpiece of the unconscious, can utterly destroy a man.

In the final analysis the decisive factor is always consciousness, which can understand the manifestations of the unconscious and take up a position toward them.

But the anima has a positive aspect as well. It is she who communicates the images of the unconscious to the conscious mind, and that is what I chiefly valued her for.

For decades I always turned to the anima when I felt that my emotional behavior was disturbed, and that something had been constellated in the unconscious.

I would then ask the anima: “Now what are you up to? What do you see? I should like to know.”

After some resistance she regularly produced an image.

As soon as the image was there, the unrest or the sense of oppression vanished.

The whole energy of these emotions was transformed into interest in and curiosity about the image.

I would speak with the anima about the images she communicated to me, for I had to try to understand them as best I could, just like a dream.

Today I no longer need these conversations with the anima, for I no longer have such emotions. But if I did have them, I would deal with them in the same way.

Today I am directly conscious of the anima’s ideas because I have learned to accept the contents of the unconscious and to understand them.

I know how I must behave toward the inner images. I can read the meaning directly from my dreams, and therefore no longer need a mediator to communicate them. ~Carl Jung; Memories Dreams and Reflections; Pages 185-188.