Two Essays on Analytical Psychology

Persona:

The persona is a complicated system of relations between the individual consciousness and society, fittingly enough a kind of mask, designed on the one hand to make a definite impression upon others, and, on the other, to conceal the true nature of the individual.

That the latter function is superfluous could be maintained only by one who is so identified with his persona that he no longer knows himself; and that the former is unnecessary could only occur to one who is quite unconscious of the true nature of his fellows.

Society expects, and indeed must expect, every individual to play the part assigned to him as perfectly as possible, so that a man who is a parson must not only carry out his official functions objectively, but must at all times and in all circumstances play the role of parson in a flawless manner.

Society demands this as a kind of surety; each must stand at his post, here a cobbler, there a poet.

No man is expected to be both. Nor is it advisable to be both, for that would be “odd.”

Such a man would be “different” from other people, not quite reliable. In the academic world he would be a dilettante, in politics an “unpredictable” quantity, in religion a free-thinker—in short, he would always be suspected of unreliability and incompetence, because society is persuaded that only the cobbler who is not a poet can supply workmanlike shoes.

To present an unequivocal face to the world is a matter of practical importance: the average man—the only kind society knows anything about — must keep his nose to one thing in order to achieve anything worth while, two would be too much.

Our society is undoubtedly set on such an ideal. It is therefore not surprising that everyone who wants to get on must take these expectations into account.

Obviously no one could completely submerge his individuality in these expectations; hence the construction of an artificial personality becomes an unavoidable necessity.

The demands of propriety and good manners are an added inducement to assume a becoming mask.

What goes on behind the mask is then called “private life.”

This painfully familiar division of consciousness into two figures, often preposterously different, is an incisive psychological operation that is bound to have repercussions on the unconscious. Carl Jung, CW 7, Para 305