John Kulm's Reviews > Man and His Symbols

Man and His Symbols by C.G. Jung
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Aug 22, 10

Read from April 02 to August 09, 2010

I love this book, although the used "Dell" edition I bought is falling apart. I'll have to buy another copy. The book has much to say about dreams and art. I'm adding some quotes from the book to the review I posted a few days ago.

If you think about the following quote while viewing paintings, you might find insights about artists who often, unconsciously, express their conscious attitude to the right of the canvas and their unconscious attitude on the left: “Among other things ‘right’ often means, psychologically, the side of consciousness, of adaptation, of being ‘right,’ while the left signifies the sphere of unadapted, unconscious reactions or sometimes even something ‘sinister.’” - Marie-Louise von Franz

Another quote applies this left/right idea while examining a subject’s dream: “Henry is a ‘lonely wanderer’ on the narrow path. But (perhaps thanks to the analysis) he is already on his way down from inhospitable heights. To the left, on the side of the unconscious, his road is bordered by the terrifying depths of the abyss. On the right side, the side of consciousness, the way is blocked by the rigid caves (which might represent, so to speak, unconscious areas in Henry’s field of consciousness) there are places where refuge can be found when bad weather comes – in other words, when outside tensions become too threatening.” - Aniela Jaffe


The text below was posted earlier:

Man and His Symbols covers a lot of territory, with four authors: C.G. Jung, Joseph L. Henderson, Marie-Louise von Franz, Aniela Jaffe, and Jolande Jacobe. I picked up the book because I’m interested in understanding symbols in dreams, but it deals with symbols in a wider sense than that, as well as in dreams.

I’m going to post a few quotes from M-L von Franz about the anima and the animus because that always interests me. I want to understand the feminine, whether it’s the feminine in my own psyche or in some confusing woman! Also, it’s interesting to read about the animus within a woman’s psyche and see whether it helps me understand that aspect of a woman, or learn more about masculinity as an aspect of my own psyche. It’s all such a mystery!

I’m not actually finished reading this book. I’m very caught up in it and I’ll probably post more quotes later. Anyway, all these quotes are from von Franz :

The Anima:

“The number four is also connected with the anima because, as Jung noted, there are four stages in its development. The first stage is best symbolized by the figure of Eve, which represents purely instinctual and biological relations. The second can be seen in Faust’s Helen: She personifies a romantic and aesthetic level that is, however, still characterized by sexual elements. The third is represented, for instance, by the Virgin Mary – a figure who raises love (eros) to the heights of spiritual devotion. The fourth type is symbolized by Sapientia, wisdom transcending even the most holy and the most pure. Of this another symbol is the Shulamite in the Song of Solomon. (In the psychic development of modern man this stage is rarely reached. The Mona Lisa comes nearest to such a wisdom anima.)”


“But what does the role of the anima as guide to the inner world mean in practical terms? This positive function occurs when a man takes seriously the feelings, moods, expectations, and fantasies sent by his anima and when he fixes them in some form – for example, in writing, painting, sculpture, musical composition, or dancing. When he works at this patiently and slowly, other more deeply unconscious material wells up form the depths and connects with the earlier material. After a fantasy has been fixed in some specific form, it must be examined both intellectually and ethically, with an evaluating feeling reaction. And it is essential to regard is as being absolutely real; there must be no lurking doubt that this is ‘only a fantasy.’ If this is practiced with devotion over a long period, the process of individuation gradually becomes the single reality and can unfold in its true form.”


The Animus:

“…the animus is sometimes, like the anima, a demon of death. For example, in a gypsy fairy tale a handsome stranger is received by a lonely woman in spite of the fact that she has had a dream warning her that he is the king of the dead. After he has been with her for a time, she presses him to tell her who he really is. At first he refuses, saying that she will die if he tells her. She insists, however, and suddenly he reveals to her that he is death himself. The woman immediately dies of fright.

“Viewed mythologically, the beautiful stranger is probably a pagan father-image or god-image, who appears here as king of the dead (like Hades’s abduction of Persephone). But psychologically he represents a particular form of the animus that lures women away from all human relationships and especially from all contacts with real men. He personifies a cocoon of dreamy thoughts, filled with desire and judgements about how things ‘ought to be,’ which cut a woman off from the reality of life.”


“Like the anima, the animus does not merely consist of negative qualities such as brutality, recklessness, empty talk, and silent, obstinate, evil ideas. He too has a very positive and valuable side; he too can build a bridge to the Self through his creative activity. The following dream of a woman of 45 may help to illustrate this point:

“Two veiled figures climb onto the balcony and into the house. They are swathed in black hooded coats, and they seem to want to torment me and my sister. She hides under the bed, but they pull her out with a broom and torture her. Then it is my turn. The leader of the two pushes me against the wall, making magical gestures before my face. In the meantime his helper makes a sketch on the wall, and when I see it, I say (in order to be friendly), ‘Oh! But this is well drawn!’ Now suddenly my tormenter has the noble head of an artist, and he says proudly, ‘Yes indeed,’ and begins to clean his spectacles.

“The sadistic aspect of these two figures was well known to the dreamer, for in reality she frequently suffered bad attacks of anxiety during which she was haunted by the thought that people she loved were in great danger – or even that they were dead. But the fact that the animus figure in the dream is double suggests that the burglars personify a psychic factor that is dual in its effect, and that could be something quite different from theses tormenting thoughts. The sister of the dreamer, who runs away from the men, is caught and tortured. In reality this sister died when fairly young. She had been artistically gifted, but had made very little use of her talent. Next the dream reveals that the veiled burglars are actually disguised artists, and that if the dreamer recognizes their gifts (which are her own), they will give up their evil intentions.

“What is the deeper meaning of the dream? It is that behind the spasms of anxiety there is indeed a genuine and mortal danger; but there is also a creative possibility for the dreamer. She, like her sister, had some talent as a painter, but she doubted whether painting could be a meaningful activity for her. Now her dream tells her in the most earnest way that she must live out this talent. If she obeys, the destructive tormenting animus will be transformed into a creative and meaningful activity.”


“As in this dream, the animus often appears as a group of men. In this way the unconscious symbolizes the fact that the animus represents a collective rather than a personal element. Because of this collective-mindedness women habitually refer (when their animus is speaking through them) to ‘one’ or ‘they’ or ‘everybody,’ and in such circumstances their speech frequently contains the words ‘always’ and ‘should’ and ‘ought.’”


“The animus, just like the anima, exhibits four stages of development. He first appears as a personification of mere physical power – for instance, as an athletic champion or ‘muscle man.’ In the next stage he possesses initiative and the capacity for planned action. In the third phase, the animus becomes the ‘word,’ often appearing as a professor or clergyman. Finally, in his fourth manifestation, the animus is the incarnation of meaning. On this highest level he becomes (like the anima) a mediator of the religious experience whereby life acquires new meaning. He gives the woman spiritual firmness, an invisible inner support that compensates for her outer softness. The animus in his most developed form sometimes connects the woman’s mind with the spiritual evolution of her age, and can thereby make her even more receptive than a man to new creative ideas. It is for this reason that in earlier times women were used by many nations as diviners and seers. The creative boldness of their positive animus at times expresses thoughts and ideas that stimulate men to new enterprises.”
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