Emma Jung on Anima and Animus

Emma Jung on Anima and Animus

Emma Jung wrote two papers on the Anima an Animus. Personally, I think she has been overlooked as a significant contributor to Jungian Theory. I decided to write a post about her papers to capture as concisely as possible her valuable perspective.

Anima and Animus: Personal and Archetypal

The Anima and Animus is on one hand rooted in the individual consciousness and on the other in the collective unconscious, and as such are bridges between the personal and impersonal, the conscious and the unconscious. What this means is that the Anima and Animus have both a personal expression as a complex as well as an archetypal function. This is one of the reasons that working with the Anima and Animus is so complicated and confusing. As a complex, we can explore it from the idea of Imago, the internal image of Anima and Animus, based on our relationships with our primary caregivers (parents). As an archetype we are guided by mythological instances and symbolic expressions of the Anima and Animus. In this post I will briefly explore  various aspects of Anima and Animus, highlighted by Emma Jung and how they live in us.

The Animus

Dysfunctional Animus

The unintegrated Animus is destructive to both the individual and to others around them. Creativity is found most characteristically in human relationships, coupled with sensation and intuition rather than from the mind. Here the Animus can wreak havoc since it injects itself in relationships, often making relatedness difficult or impossible. Instead of feeling and acting accordingly, or understanding a situation, the Animus offers an opinion and a judgment.

The way we experience the voice of the Animus is as a voice commenting on every situation, handing out commands and prohibitions or imparting generally applicable rules of behaviour and accepted viewpoints. If it is directed internally, it is very critical on all our movements, resulting in feelings of inferiority and nips in the bud all initiatives for self-expression. It also offers exaggerated praise, which can lead to an overvaluing oneself and one’s sense of importance.

The Animus makes irrefutable and complete judgments, appear as convincing or attractive. The Animus is a word smith, able to persuade and seduce us. Clear thinking about these judgments require the application of practical common sense, keeping in mind the situation from a personal perspective. An unintegrated Animus affects thinking: instead of a thirst for knowledge, curiosity; instead of judgment, prejudice; instead of thinking, imagination and dreaming; instead of will, wishing.

The thinking that is not helpful stems from the realm of the Animus pondering how we should have or ought to have done things and creating strings of, frequently illusory, causal connections. But this mental activity is not helpful or productive. The Animus is good at creating illusions of structure, e.g. things must happen in a certain way, or we assume that someone will act a certain way. In this way the Animus also creates an illusion of who we are and what we are about. In order to escape the hold of the Animus over us we need to let go of this picture we have of who we really are. When the Animus is in control, we suffer from a lack of self-confidence and inertia and we need to oppose that through courage and strength of will.

In dreams the Animus appears in many different forms, e.g. a stranger, representing the strange and unknown aspects of spirit. It can also represent the wish-form thinking and appear as someone representing lightness and swiftness, e.g. aviator, chauffeur, skier, dancer. It can also represent the mental aspects of the Animus, e.g. judge, philosopher, artist, scholar, etc.

An unintegrated Animus can lead to nervous or bodily symptoms, sleeplessness, anxiety, depression, dissatisfaction, loss of interest in life, headaches, pains, disturbed vision and sometimes lung infections.

When the Animus is constellated harmoniously with the feminine principle, it lends effective aid, producing individuals who are active, energetic, brave and forceful. But where the masculine overruns the feminine, the result is over-energetic, ruthless, brutal and aggressive individuals.

Animus as archetype

The Animus can be described in verbs as Power, Word, Deed and Meaning. Without consciousness neither word, deed nor meaning is possible. Meaning is tied in with spiritual capacity, the ultimate domain of the Animus. If the individual does not take up a spiritual functioning in the conscious mind, the energy (Libido) flows into the unconscious and gives rise to an autonomous Animus figure, who will overwhelm the conscious ego and dominate the whole personality. The human being has a basic idea that needs to be fulfilled, for lack of a better expression, a certain destiny which is robbed of its potential life if the individual is under the spell of the Animus. The two aspects of this logos function are discrimination, judging and understanding; and abstracting and setting up of general laws.

The human being is split between his natural body and the laws that govern nature, in other words nature, and his consciousness and knowledge, or Spirit. The work of the Animus is bringing into balance these two opposite forces to function in harmony.

Integrating the Animus

A well-integrated Animus results in clear thinking, the power to act and taking responsibility to the outside world. There needs to be a movement from curiosity to a thirst for knowledge; from prejudice to judgment; from imagination and dreaming to thinking; and from wishing to willing.

Integrating the Animus starts with withdrawal of projection. The act of discrimination is often painful and difficult. One has to accept that many thoughts and opinions are dictated by the Animus which has an aggressive authority and power of suggestion. One needs to be critical of all thoughts and opinions in order to use discretion to identify that which belongs to us and which belongs to the Animus. One needs to oppose general statements and consider what is individual and specific in each situation. Decisions made under the influence of the Animus are often violent, not only towards the other but also towards the individual themselves who make decisions without taking into consideration their own feelings. The Animus can be projected onto institutions and people.

The personal Animus, masculine or spiritual element which corresponds with your natural gifts can be developed into a conscious function or attitude, coordinated with the totality of the personality. It is essential to find a place for this energy of the Animus in your life and personality. Usually it can find expression in our hobbies and talents. Apart from these specific activities, the Animus can and should help us to gain knowledge and a more impersonal and reasonable way of looking at things. Developing the spiritual attitude sets us free from the limitation and imprisonment of a narrowly personal standpoint.

The Animus is similar to an elemental being, it can lag leadenly behind us in a lethargy, or confuse us with unruly, flickering inspirations, or soar away with us into thin air. Because it is averse to irrationality, it often rejects that which it cannot confirm rationally and shuts us off from the unconscious. Strict and unfailing guidance is needed to control this unstable directionless spirit, to force it to obey and work towards a goal.

The Anima

Emma Jung explores the Anima in her paper from the perspective of myth and fairy tales. She proposes that as the Anima represents the embodiment of the feminine personality of the man, it is also the archetype of the feminine and as such the feminine nature. She uses myth and fairy tale to extrapolate these qualities of the feminine, from a collective perspective, both the nature of the Anima and the affect the Anima has on men.

The Role of the Anima

The role of the Anima is to make visible the unconscious contents. In order to perceive content from the unconscious, consciousness needs to be dimmed, not clear and sharp focused attention, but rather a widening of consciousness that is able to capture that which is obscure and hidden. This requires a sacrifice of reason, a descent from the light into the darkness, from the clear into the turbid. The Anima is about becoming aware of the image from the unconscious, whereas the Animus is focused on knowledge and understanding and as such giving meaning to the image.

The Dysfunctional Anima

The Anima, if not rooted in practical common sense, tends to think in dreaming, wishing, imagining and fearing. Her domain is the dream land, alluring and pleasant, but one can get lost there, forgetting the duties and responsibilities required by the external world.

The Anima is the connection with the spring or source of life, the unconscious. When this connection does not exist, the individual will suffer from stagnation, inertia or lethargy. But when one falls under her spell, the result is the loss of virility and virtue. She is emasculating.

As she is unintegrated, her feeling function is primitive and un-adapted, resulting in inappropriate responses to events which the collective (world/others) find offensive. She is very touchy, and likely to persevere in resentments. The Anima often functions as a looking glass, reflecting thoughts, emotions and desires. It is often projected onto an actual person especially the partner. Unless it is brought into consciousness, it if often merely a self-mirroring which flatters the individual’s vanity or experienced as sentimental self-pity.

The qualities of the Anima

Images and figures produced by the spontaneous, myth-making faculty of the psyche are not to be understood as merely reproducing or paraphrasing outer phenomena. They are also expressions of inner psychic facts and may therefore be regarded as one kind of psychic self-representation. These figures appear in our dreams and fantasies and correlations are found in myth.

The Anima is the archetype of the feminine and as such displays recognisable feminine traits. Referring to mythology, they are enticingly beautiful but only half human. They have fish tails or transform into birds or sea animals. They try to bind the man with love so that they may live in his world. There is a taboo connected with them that must not be broken, e.g. they must not be seen naked or given their original skin. They do not tolerate violence or harsh words. Union with her involved definite rules, which may be fatal if not fulfilled. Human reality is not to her taste. She is often in mist or clouds, as she does not have firm outlines and can change and transform. Only if grasped in consciousness can she be identified. She fills the man’s cup with love, inspiration, transformation or death. She is both the man’s desire and his endeavour. She manifests yearning, the desire for new undertakings, striving for something new and different, an emotional stirring, a vague impulse or unexplainable mood. It starts an impulse or intuition, leading him on to new possibilities which he can grasp and pursue. She is receptive, presupposing emptiness and openness, according to Jung the great secret of femininity. The logic and reason of the Animus shuts us off from the unconscious. The Anima is not critical and judgmental and as she has this innate absence of prejudice towards the irrational, she is the mediator between the conscious and unconscious.

Integrating the Anima

The Anima needs to be redeemed, behind her animal form is a higher being. She was originally whole and in a state of unity. Life demanding the increasing development of consciousness destroys or mars the original wholeness of the child. The development of the masculine ego-consciousness leaves the feminine side behind and it remains in its natural state. Psychologically, the inferior function is left behind and consequently undifferentiated and unconscious. Redemption is achieved by recognising and integrating these unknown elements of the soul.

There needs to be a balance between not surrendering completely to the Anima but also not losing her entirely. There needs to be an acknowledgement and granting of space for her to exist and become part of your being.

Integrating the Anima does not mean you merely become aware of your feelings, but also work and come to terms with such feelings, since creating and preserving relationships require a value judgment that is also a feeling function. The Anima is both personal and supra-personal, meaning that the personal aspects needs to be differentiated from the supra-personal, in order to integrate and assimilate it. The personal Anima accompanies and supplements the individual but must not be allowed to rule the individual. When the Anima is recognized and integrated, the general attitude towards the feminine is cultivated, establishing a reverence for nature as well as women in general.


The Anima is predominantly conditioned by Eros, the principle of union, or relationship, while the Animus is bound to reason, to Logos, the discriminating and regulative principle.

Jung called the Animus the archetype of meaning and the Anima the archetype of life. She is the one connected to the source of life, the unconscious. The Anima is in charge of bringing unconscious content into consciousness. She uses intuition to bring into awareness that which cannot be seen or what is hidden. In opposition to the Animus, who uses consciousness like a flashlight to gain knowledge and understanding, the Anima is out of focus and covers greater space, allowing for the unconscious to offer multiple layered symbols. Once these symbols come into awareness, the Animus accesses the meaning that resides in the symbol.

To reiterate, the above information is a summary of the papers Emma Jung wrote on Anima and Animus. I hope you found her description of Anima and Animus as enlightening as I did.

All the best,



Jung, E. (1957). Animus and anima: Two essays. Analytical Psychology Club of New York.


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Comments (11)

  • Kevin.Grennell Reply

    Very insightful reading.thnks

    July 13, 2020 at 9:43 pm
  • Leena Chaudhuri Reply

    Thank you for the insight and sensitive understanding that you offer in your piece.

    July 14, 2020 at 12:19 pm
    • Barbara Reply

      Enlightening. Thank you.

      July 17, 2020 at 9:42 pm
  • Lucy Colwell Reply

    Thank you

    July 14, 2020 at 11:54 pm
    • Victoria Shymlosky Reply

      Interesting article and very insightful ideas around animus and anima plus shadow concept.

      July 16, 2020 at 9:34 am
  • Mark Reply

    Damn. That was wonderful and super helpful for me as I continue my journey in working with my Anima. You helped lead me to a wonderful moment!

    August 8, 2020 at 10:11 pm
  • Nader Khaghani Reply

    Dear Anja,
    Love your insight. Thank you for sharing.
    I am a painter and currently putting the last touch on my book, archetypal thinking and imagining. In your analysis, we can call them animus so wisely you point out the thinking flashlight aspect of it. And the anima, the chi, life principle.

    I am writing to get your permission to quote your comment on my book which starts with Mercurius, the god of painter and extends to anima, and finds the two are one. as anima Mundus.
    I appreciate your permission and intend to take the course you are offering. Thanks a million.

    December 24, 2020 at 11:08 pm
  • Suzette Herft Reply

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

    January 10, 2021 at 3:40 am
  • Tosca Zraikat Reply

    Anja, I have been searching for a copy of Emma Jung’s two essays, Anima and Animus, without success. Do you know where I could find one? Many thanks

    August 14, 2021 at 1:54 pm
  • Haidee Swanby Reply

    this is such a great article, so clear and boiled down to the essence. I’ve come back to it a number of times. Thanks Anja

    November 24, 2022 at 5:47 pm
  • Petre Reply

    The Animus can be described in verbs as Power, Word, Deed and Meaning. None of those are verbs.
    The article is awesome! I also checked the other articles abot Animus and Anima. After a lot of research, I have to say they are the most comprehensive I found so far.

    December 6, 2022 at 8:56 am

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