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The Way of the Dream by Marie-Louise von Franz

The Tyrant

IN ITS NEGATIVE FORM a woman’s inner man, the animus, is a power of evil destructive to human life. He separates a woman from her own femininity. He cuts her off from human warmth and kindness, and leaves her isolated in a meaningless world, martyred by unseen hands. She experiences herself as a victim, a captive, trapped either by external circumstance or by a cruel fate. Eventually, she may come to believe that her awful aloneness cannot be alleviated in this

world and may be drawn into fantasies of death.

The following poem was written in a state of such animus possession and expresses the terrifying loneliness of a woman cut off from her femininity:

I search

but the desert is everywhere;

I gasp

but there is no water to quench;

I cry

but there are no arms to enfold;

I yearn

but there is no breast to suck;

I Long

but there is no milk to nourish;

 I need

but there is no phallus to embrace; I feel

only the exploitation of my friends; I fear

that death may be the same.

The father complex can raise hell in the unconscious of a woman. Its authority can be absolute and may effectively block her from contacting her own creative spirit.

This dream shows a woman’s masculinity in a highly critical form, chastising the dreamer and driving her into a state of bitter isolation.

I’m sitting on the floor of a remote cabin. I’m brushing the hair of a cat. I can’t see the cat, but I know it’s got orange fur because I’m pulling the fur of the cat out of the brush. A woman behind me is using the phone. I’m sitting beside a man I don’t recognize, but I know in the dream is my father. He’s very tall and strongly built with short hair. He is the chief of police, and we live in the police department of a remote settlement.

The woman finishes using the phone and hangs it up and leaves. My father walks over to where she has been and tidies up something, then turns and walks toward me and says, “They’re crazy. They’re just plain crazy!” The woman has been making incestuous overtures to someone on the phone.

Then I’m standing beside my father. He has found a note that I’ve written to a boyfriend, and he is in a murderous rage. The boy is standing in front of him. I start to tremble violently and run from the room through a door that is usually locked by a hook high up on the door. I run through into the bathroom. There’s a man sitting on the floor in there who doesn’t pay any attention to me. I’m wearing a parka and a hat, and I vomit into the toilet.

As I’m doing this, I can see that my father is going to tie my hands together, hang me from the rafters in the cabin, and beat me with a stick. I wake up from the dream shouting, “Harry! Harry!” -female dreamer.

Usually the first man that a woman meets is her father, and he has, therefore, a very decisive influence on a young girl. If the relationship to the father constellates itself negatively, the girl will react negatively toward the father. Now, the father may or may not be an evil or difficult man in himself. The girl may simply just not like him. But in any case, if the relationship is negative, later on she generally has difficulties with men, and difficulties in finding her own masculine side. In the extreme case she . might not be able to approach men at all. The first man she met in her life was a horror, and therefore all men are horrors. She might even become lesbian or shun men entirely. Certainly, she would be afraid of men. If it is not such an extreme case, she would be what one would call a very difficult woman. She would argue with men, challenge them, criticize them, and try to pull them down. She would expect negativity from them, and this expectation would naturally put difficulties on her partner.

In other words, the animus, her own masculinity, would be a problem to her. Such a woman would tend to behave toward herself as her father behaved toward her. If the father was tyrannical, even after his death, -the woman would still tyrannize herself with ideas and opinions which came from the father image. And so a girl’s relation­ ship to her father and her detachment from the father always play a big role in her development as a woman.

At the beginning of the dream, she’s brushing an orange cat. The cat in our country stems originally from Egypt, where it was once a divine animal. There, they had a cat goddess who was the goddess of

music, sexuality, pleasure in life, and life-embracing feminine fertility. The cat, in contrast to the dog, has never sold its soul to man. It has a kind of egocentric reserve. The cat says, “You may stroke me and you may serve me,” but it never becomes your slave. And if you annoy it, it just walks out on you. In women’s dreams, therefore, the cat often is an image of something feminine, independent and sure of itself, just what modern women so often lack. That’s why the cat goddess comes up in women’s dreams as a positive model of feminine behavior. It is not brutal; it does not display any masculine features. It is feminine and, at the same time, very firm, very identical with itself. The cat is not very amiable, but very true to itself.

So, at the beginning of the dream she’s trying to approach and look after her own femininity, and at that very moment the father walks up. It’s not her real father, but the chief of police, who in the dream is called her father. We can see therefore that this woman tyrannizes herself with the police chief’s rules of behavior.

Now, in actual life �he has decided to become a good mother, and force herself in a tyrannical manner to be a good mother. Her home, her children, her family life have to be the way she thinks is ·right. That’s why the dream says her inner father, her inner authority, is the chief of police. Policemen are mainly concerned that things continue in a very collective, undifferentiated, orderly way. Thus, the chief of police is that animus in woman who wants orderly, conventional behavior that will not be shocking to anyone. Just the opposite of a cat. A chief of police and a cat never get on very well, and that poor woman has both of them in her at the same time.

Then, in the dream, the chief of police declares that the woman is crazy. That’s the secret voice in her that says, whenever she follows her own feeling, “No, that’s crazy! Don’t do that. You are crazy if you do that. ” Many people repress things within themselves by calling them crazy.

Then her police chief father catches her out like a little girl. He discovers that she has written a note to her boyfriend. Here again we have the image of the tyrant. Naturally there exist in reality fathers who think they have to anxiously protect the integrity of their daughters and pursue them when they write notes to their first boyfriends. But here this is no longer the case, as this woman is married and away from home. Rather this means that she is doing to herself what her father did to her.

That is the greatest tragedy arising from the negative animus. It flares up with its power whenever a woman loves. It tries to cut women off from any kind of relationship by belittling it or calling it crazy. The negative animus mainly manifests itself as an opinionated resistance to any feelings of love. If a woman has a tendency to fall in love or even to be interested in a man, her negative animus comes up and makes her ruin the relationship.

Subjectively, she doesn’t know what is happening. She thinks she is under a curse. Just when she wants to talk to the man she loves, something in her makes a tearful scene. And then she goes home and cries. She may project and say, “He was so nasty to me,” but if she’s a bit more honest she will say, “I wanted to have a good relationship with him, and just because I wanted the relationship I made a scene. ” And she doesn’t know what devil’s mechanism made her do it. If a woman hits you as a man, you can be sure she’s interested in you. She would really like to love you, but she doesn’t know how.

The negative animus behaves here like a jealous lover. He wants to keep the woman for himself by cutting her off from all men. When she has some loving feelings toward any man, then up comes this “You should not do that” animus. Or it’s projected.

I know a classic case of a woman who once attacked Jung violently with the animus during the analytical hour. They later went into what happened, and Jung told her, “Whenever you have a feeling, that’s when you attack. ” What happened was that on the way to meet with Jung, she had seen some beautiful strawberries. Her first impulse was, “Let’s buy them and bring them to him.” And then the animus said, “Oh, Jung will say that strawberries have an erotic meaning and he’ll mock you. ” So she didn’t buy the strawberries and arrived in a fierce mood and attacked Jung the entire hour. All because she had suppressed the strawberries. If she had bought the strawberries, everything would have gone well, but she had repressed her own feelings.

Now, when you say the animus “says” this to a woman, what do you mean? Sub;ectively, how does the woman experience that? Does she actually hear a voice?

No, the worst thing is that she experiences it as if she thinks it herself. You see, the animus thinks in her, “Jung is going to laugh at the strawberries,” and then she believes that she thinks that. That is one of the great difficulties in analytical work: to make women distinguish between what they really think themselves and what it thinks in them.

The problem is that they think animus thoughts are their own. Even after working for years on that, I sometimes still have negative thoughts against myself, and if you asked me at that moment, I would say, “Yes, that’s what I think about myself. ” Later, I would have a dream of a man raping me, and realize, “No, that was an evil animus in me who thought that. ” And then I could disidentify and wonder, “Why on earth did I ever think that about myself? Naturally, I don’t think that. ” But, you see, that is the essence of what one calls possession. When a woman is possessed by the animus, she thinks that the animus is herself. Only when, or if, she wakes up does she come to realize, “No, that’s not me.”

When describing a woman locked into the negative animus, you used the word possession. It is usually associated with religion and witchcraft.

Well, mediums go into a trance and are then possessed by a certain godhead. In Haiti, for instance, people go into a trance and male or female godheads enter them. They are then possessed by a god. They speak in a changed voice as the god speaks through them. They become the horse, and the god becomes the rider. I have a book on Haitian states of possession in which there is a photograph of three different male mediums incorporating the same god, Legbe. In the trance all three mediums make exactly the same movements. When they are possessed they all behave in the same way. They are, we would say, possessed by an archetypal figure. When they wake up, these mediums sometimes don’t remember what they have said in the trance state.

Now, these mediums are the extreme form of something which is normal in every human being. All day long our field of consciousness is entered by autonomous complexes. You will realize this if you watch the trend of your thoughts during the day. You may be in a friendly, loving mood until you suddenly think of something negative; then hatred and bitterness enter the scene. A quarter of an hour later, you may be musing on your revenge for something that has been done to you. And then, as you think of something else, your inner scene changes again. If we watch ourselves, we discover there is a different person for every switch of mood.

I could give you a whole list of the persons I can be. I am an old peasant woman who thinks of cooking and of the house. I am a scholar who thinks about deciphering manuscripts. I am a psychotherapist who thinks about how to interpret people’s dreams. I am a mischievous little boy who enjoys the company of a ten-year-old and playing mischievous tricks on adults, and so on. I could give you twenty more such characters. They suddenly enter you, but if you see what is happening, you can keep them out of your system, or play with them and put them aside again. But if you are possessed, they enter you involuntarily and you act them out involuntarily. For instance, I can call up the mischievous person and send him back to sleep again when I feel, “Now, there’s enough. ” That’s not possession. One of the aims of psychotherapy is to help people keep a constant identity and to get along with their inner family of souls without being possessed by them.

Now, the animus is the most frequent form of possession in a woman. She is suddenly entered by a mood of cold male determination, taken over by abstract, opinionated thinking, and driven by an impulse toward rash, brutal, determined action-none of which is at all in her feminine character. When a woman gets possessed by the animus, the feminine character of her face changes, her eyes and the

expression of her mouth become hard. I notice that when I get in the animus I pull up my shoulders like somebody who is preparing for battle. When I do that, I say to myself, “Oh, oh, stop and relax. ”

Men often have problems relating to a woman when she is possessed by the animus.

I would say that is an understatement!

Men say that when a woman is possessed by the negative animus she seems to have one goal and one goal only-to create an argument and then win at any cost, no holds barred. But, when the man fights back, the woman changes into a hurt little girl.

When women are in the animus, they love to do that double play on a man. First they brutally attack, usually viciously with their tongues, and when the man hits back they become delicate, frightened little children being attacked by a brutal man, even though they attacked first. I call that the gangster animus. He puts a little girl in front of him as a shield so that no one can shoot the gangster down. Women with a gangster animus are on the one hand uncertain, touchy little girls whom the man dares not say boo to, while at the same time, brutal beasts who viciously attack. They complain that the man doesn’t listen to them, yet chide him with aggressive remarks.

Then generally the men feel very awkward because the women’s tears make them feel guilty. But it’s a trick. These women try to make men feel guilty, and so men feel guilty, that they are brutes who made the woman cry. The men feel uncomfortable and react in some inappropriate way because they feel cornered.

Can this negative animus interfere in a woman’s relationship with her children?

Yes, the animus actually does interfere with maternal feelings in certain women if they don’t have a strong maternal instinct. For instance, let’s say a child misbehaves, whines, and spills the soup over the plate. A natural reaction is to get angry and to shout a bit. If it doesn’t go too far, it’s quite normal for the child to accept that. But then the chief of police animus says to the mother inwardly, “No, that’s not good education. The child will have a trauma. ” So she swallows her anger and does something much worse to the child. That’s why, in this dream, the woman goes to the toilet and vomits. She obviously swallows too much that she can’t swallow, that she should not swallow. You vomit if you have eaten something you shouldn’t eat, which your stomach refuses. She stomachs too much. So I would guess that, very often, her children annoy her and, instead of howling at the top of her voice, “You are impossible brats. Go to helll,” she swallows everything. But children like strong reactions if they are carried by a loving undertone. I was once in an Italian inn where a woman was cooking for the whole inn, and around her were about twelve little children. She constantly howled at them and banged them over the head. I’ve never seen such blossoming children, because it was all carried on in a warm atmosphere of maternal love.

On the other hand, a child does not react only to the action a mother does and how she behaves. There are mothers who seemingly are very good mothers but there might be something wrong in their unconscious. A horrible story comes to mind of the mother of two little girls. She was a loving mother who took great care of her children. She was not overly severe or indulgent. But the two little girls repeatedly dreamt that the mother came as a wolf in the night into their bedroom and threatened them. After some years the mother suddenly became psychotic. In this case, the little girls didn’t react to the mother’s good behavior, they reacted to her sick unconscious. They felt threatened by her sick unconscious nature. So you see, there may be a thousand reasons why a little child reacts negatively.

There are invisible affects going from the parent to the child much more even than the visible affects. One comes to families where there is a happy family life and one can’t understand why the children suddenly become neurotic and go wrong, but if one digs up the situation, there are invisible affects behind the back of all the participants.

The invisible atmosphere is much more powerful than what is seen. That’s why Jung never wrote much about pedagogics. He said it doesn’t matter what you say or do with children. The important thing is that you are yourself healthy in order that you emanate a healthy, positive atmosphere. Then it doesn’t matter what you say to the children. They don’t listen to it anyhow. They react to your background. The children are, so to speak, still swimming in the unconscious, in the atmosphere of a situation, and they react to that.

That sounds so simple for a parent, “Just be psychically healthy yourself and your kids will tum out all right.” But that’s not easy. Every woman in our society is bombarded with instructions telling her how to best raise her children. The television tells her, the magazines tell her, even her own mother has a list, “You should do this. You should do that!” The whole world tells her what she’s doing wrong.

That’s the negative animus. Those collective opinions rape the woman of her own individual thoughts or feeling reactions.

For instance, when I have indulged in destructive thoughts about myself or about my work, I have often dreamt of being pursued by hostile men. The dream is saying, “Those negative thoughts are not you. They are the hostile animi in you. You should run away from those destructive thoughts. They will destroy you if you stay with them. ”

Just take, for example, the woman who is annoyed with her little boy spilling the soup. Her natural feeling would be to say, “Damnit! Now you have again spilled the soup. ” But then the pedagogic animus in her says, “You mustn’t shout at your little boy. That’s pedagogically not wise.” Then she rapes her individual feeling reaction with her collective pedagogic animus. She rapes her natural feminine reaction by saying that she shouldn’t have a natural feminine reaction.

Can a woman’s dream of rape be interpreted positively? Can it be she is being overwhelmed by something constructive?

I would say that depends on who rapes her. If she dreams that a powerful, healthy, or in any other way positive figure rapes her, then I would still not like it because it’s such a passive situation. You could argue that she’s overwhelmed by something positive. Nevertheless rape, if you use the word rape, means that she is too passive. She hasn’t said yes to it, so it isn’t quite right. It’s a kind of a psychological happening rather than an accepted situation. So, even if the raping partner is positive, it is not quite right.

Is there an archetypal image of this ·negative animus figure?

The classical example of the destructive animus, which the woman has at all costs to escape, is illustrated in the famous fairy tale of Bluebeard, in which the heroine gets into a castle where she secretly discovers that the owner has cut up and slaughtered all his former wives. After discovering this terrible secret she, with the help of her brothers, barely manages to escape. Bluebeard is the classical image of the destructive animus. If a woman cannot escape the self-destructive and self-annihilating thoughts of the negative animus, it may lead to a severe psychological disturbance. Women who can’t escape their Bluebeard generally become isolated, bitter women whom men cannot love, who find no partners, and who live in bitter isolation, if not in an even worse situation.

Men have always created the image of an ideal woman. Marilyn Monroe, for example, was worshiped like a goddess. Does the animus also take this idealized form?

What Marilyn Monroe was to men, Valentino was to women. He represented the ideal demon lover, who would carry the woman away into a romantic ecstasy where she could create fantasies about the Sheik. Of course, being carried away by the demon lover into a romantic us-two-aloneness goes on in modern films as well. Generally, if women are unhappy in their relationships with their husbands or their lovers, they dream and fantasize about being carried away and having a secret, nocturnal love affair with their animus.

The demon lover figure exerts a kind of demonic or divine fascination on the woman and makes her incapable of relating to an ordinary human being. He is personified as Heathcliff in Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. In the novel, Bronte shows the power of the identification by having her heroine say, “I don’t love Heathcliff. . . .I am Heathcliff. ” It’s interesting that Emily Bronte herself even had the idea that her genius, her great gift as a writer, had made her into a lonely, tragic figure. Generally, having such a demon lover ends tragically. People become incapable of living and relating to others; they are sucked away into the dream world and into the unconscious.

There is great psychological danger in the figures which Jung called animus and anima. These contrasexual elements can estrange a human being completely from reality and society. The animus, like the anima, is a very ambiguous, very dangerous inner figure which must be approached with great wisdom. ~The Way of the Dream, Page 154-165