The Anima as the archetypal hero. Joss Whedon
turned the anima archetype upside down, turning the
brainless bimbo (Buffy) and the introvert nerd
(Willow) into fearsome warriors.
Image from the Dark Horse comic book.
The changing anima
In my previous posts in my series on transgender psychology I argued that Carl Jung's concept of the anima (the repressed woman withing the man) and the animus (the unconscious masculine side of women) may be useful in a transgender context, but not in the way most people think.
Far too often the anima is understood as a given, biologically determined, set of feminine personality traits that the man suppresses in order to live up to the masculine stereotype. According to this model the feminine side of man will always be - for instance -- emotional, irrational and opinionated.
But what happens if the cultural stereotypes change?
Will the anima represent the same timeless traits like -- let's say -- being emotional as opposed to analytical, conflict shy as opposed to aggressive?
I find that very unlikely. The psychological traits found in the anima and animus will change in accordance with what is considered accepted behavior in that culture.
The traditional anima
In the 19th century and much of the 20th century the female archetype or anima appeared in novels written by men as the comforter, the emphatic and forgiving soul, the kind of woman who helps a man reconcile a tortured soul with the undercurrents of nature. Goethe's Faust had Gretchen. Ibsen's Peer Gynt had Solveig.
In several of Fyodor Dostoyevski's books we meet men who have gone so far in the analytical direction, that they lose touch with Nature, God or the Harmonious Life (which in Dostoyevski's case seem to be one and the same).