The following is an extract from an article by Roberto Assagioli called Vertical Telepathy, translated from Italian by Gordon Symons. Original Italian title: TELEPATIA VERTICALE from the Assagioli Archive in Florence.
“It is good to remember that a lower motive does not exclude a higher motive at all, and in turn that a higher motive does not exclude a lower component. What is called Animus and Anima, and the spiritual “I”, are two clearly distinct things. In fact, Jung, who adopts his own personal terminology, speaks of the spiritual “I” in somewhat vague terms. He calls it “transcendent functions” or “transcendent self”. The word transcendent is good because it accentuates this aspect of differentiation and superiority of the conscious, normal and ordinary “I”. Instead, what Jung calls Animus and Anima, are two completely different instances – non-spiritual and purely psychological – that would represent the polar aspect of each unconscious. Jung theorizes that in man female functions are in the unconscious, not developed, and vice versa that in woman there are male functions in the unconscious. According to him, these rudimentary functions, undeveloped and with inferior characteristics, come together and form an image in the unconscious that often influences the conscious negatively. He calls them Anima for man, and Animus for woman.
I believe that Jung’s theory has elements of truth, but that he has exaggerated a little and that it is too schematized. That there are psychological elements of the opposite sex in each of us is true, and it is fortunate, otherwise there would be an immense, unbridgeable gulf between the two sexes. We can understand each other (and often badly) only because of the opposite sex that exists in us. That this element generally remains poorly developed, underdeveloped, for example that man has only rudimentary intuition and woman has less developed rational faculties (I do not say intelligence), this is true. But that these elements even create a coherent image, a personification, I don’t think it is usually so. I think this is somewhat schematised; which also gives me an opportunity to offer a more general warning. We speak of the unconscious or superconscious, and this is a term of convenience, but which, however, has the serious drawback of suggesting that the unconscious is an entity, almost a double ego, another being present in us. Well, it this not so. Unconscious, or subconscious, is a collective and “negative” term; in the sense that it is the sum of all the psychological elements and processes that we are not aware of at any given moment. So, it is a collective of disparate and contrasting elements. So, the unconscious is not a being, or an entity, but is the set of elements present in us, in our psyche, of a part of which we are aware moment by moment. There is a continuous exchange of content between the conscious and the unconscious and the whole sphere where the immeasurable elements dwell.
Just as the unconscious is not an entity, I don’t believe that either the Animus nor the Jungian Anima are real coherent images. I admit that in each of us there are elements of the opposite sex, which should be educated to create a complete psychosynthesis.”« Back to Glossary Index