Symbols of Transformation

“Women are a magical force. They surround themselves with an emotional tension stronger than the rationality of men…. Woman is a very, very strong being, magical. That is why, I am afraid of
women.” Carl Jung; (From an interview in 1941.)

“The demands of the unconscious act at first like a paralyzing poison on a man’s energy and resourcefulness, so that it may well be compared to the bite of a poisonous snake.

Apparently it is a hostile demon who robs him of: energy, but in actual fact it is his own unconscious whose alien tendencies are beginning to check the forward striving of the conscious mind.

The cause of this process is often extremely obscure, the more so as it is complicated by all kinds of external factors and subsidiary causes, such as difficulties in work, disappointments, failures, reduced efficiency due to age, depressing family problems, and so on and so forth.

According to the myths it is the woman who secretly enslaves a man, so that he can no longer free himself from her and becomes a child again. It is also significant that Isis, the sister-wife of the sun-god, creates the poisonous serpent from his spittle, which, like all bodily secretions, has a magical significance, being a libido equivalent.

She creates the serpent from the libido of the god, and by this means weakens him and makes him dependent on her. Delilah acts in the same way with Samson: by cutting off his hair, the sun’s rays, she robs him of his strength. This demon-woman of mythology is in truth the “sister-wife-mother,” the woman in the man, who unexpectedly turns up during the second half of life and tries to effect a forcible change of personality.

I have dealt with certain aspects of this change in my essay on “The Stages of Life.” It consists in a partial feminization of the man and a corresponding masculinization of the woman. Often it takes place under very dramatic circumstances: the man’s strongest quality, his Logos principle, turns against him and as it were betrays him. The same thing happens with the Eros of the woman.

The man becomes rigidly set in his previous attitude, while the woman remains caught in her emotional ties and fails to develop her reason and understanding, whose place is then taken by equally obstinate and inept “animus” opinions. The fossilization of the man shrouds itself in a smoke-screen of moods, ridiculous irritability, feelings of distrust and resentment, which are meant to justify his rigid attitude. A perfect example of this type of psychology is Schreber’s account of his own psychosis, Memoirs of My Nervous Illness. “ (CW5, §458)