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Supplemental Essay: Patriarchal Orientation

This supplemental essay contains quotes and expanded explanations as background for the material in the main essay. You can skip this supplemental essay if you're not interested in the details.

Matriarchal orientation versus Patriarchal orientation

Recapping matriarchal orientation: In the main essay I described the feminine influence in culture as emotionality, nature, a tie to the earth, etc., representing such values as community, association, and collectivism. 


Patriarchal orientation: In the main essay I described the masculine influence in culture as the opposite of the feminine influence: The masculine influence represents daylight, activity, life, heaven, and spirit; it is associated with differentiation, analysis, and science [from the section entitled "Separation of the World Parents"]. It represents roaming, hunting, and making war. Neumann says that initiations of boys are about "spirit, which appears together with light, the sun, the head, and the eye as symbols of consciousness. [...] This tendency finds its most obvious expression in masculine asceticism, world negation, mortification of the body, and hatred of women, and is ritually practiced in the initiation ceremonies of adolescents. The point of all such endurance tests is to strengthen the ego’s stability, the will, and the higher masculinity, and to establish a conscious sense of superiority over the body. [...] 'The fathers' are the representatives of law and order, from the earliest taboos to the most modern juridical systems; they hand down the highest values of civilization." Thus young men are expelled from the maternal world and taken into a masculine world to be "reborn as children of the spirit rather than of the mother" [from the section entitled "Great Mother vs Great Father at the S level"].


Patriarchal orientation for men: Personality profiles

Men identify well with a patriarchal culture. So the picture of patriarchal orientation for males in a patriarchal society is a rather simple one: Usually just a picture of enthusiastic embrace of patriarchal values.

For example, take the spiritual aspect of the Great Father. In The Fear of the Feminine Erich Neumann describes a patriarchal orientation where "the man identifies with the "above," with heaven, and the spirit, i.e., with the father archetype. [...] But since the patriarchal male is dominated by the upper spiritual element, he withdraws from the reality of earth in ascetic idealism and prefers to ascend toward heaven. It never occurs to him that abduction to heaven might also be a seduction. The result of this one-sided patriarchal stance, demonstrable in all areas of life, is an unintegrated man who is attacked by his repressed side and often enough overwhelmed by it."[1]


Patriarchal orientation may also manifest itself as deference to authority. In The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious Carl Jung notes that "In men, a positive father-complex very often produces a certain credulity with regard to authority and a distinct willingness to bow down before all spiritual dogmas and values [...] In dreams, it is always the father-figure from whom the decisive convictions, prohibitions, and wise counsels emanate."[2]


Deference to authority is usually regarded as a positive feature in traditional patriarchal cultures and thus doesn't attract much comment.

Patriarchal orientation for women: Personality profiles

Recapping the N level: In The Fear of the Feminine Erich Neumann says that there is no basic difference in progression between boys and girls at the N level. Both go through individuation and live in the shadow of the Great Mother in the same manner. "In regard to the primal relationship to the mother, i.e., the first phase of childhood, the same conditions hold true for both the boy and the girl. [...] The progression from the matriarchal to the patriarchal phase is just as necessary for the female as for the male, at least in modern Western culture."[3]


At the S level: But with the S level and the recognition of gender differences, the development of girls becomes more complex. Neumann says that the girl's identity with the gender of the mother makes the bridge between mother and daughter stronger, and consequently renders the bridge to the father weaker: "Persistence in the primal relationship and hence persistence in an essentially unconscious, matriarchal existence is a distinct possibility and temptation for the woman [...] The matriarchal world is essentially 'man-hating' because it is a world in its own right with values and attitudes differing from those of the patriarchate."[4]


Nonetheless, some girls do identify with the Great Father and the patriarchy. When that happens, Neumann says that there is "the danger that the girl child will get lost in the Masculine [...] This mode of losing oneself to the male realm represents the danger of masculinization in the form of developing a pseudo-masculinity in which the woman runs the danger of losing her essential femininity. [...] This maternal element is often damaged by the negative value placed on the Feminine in the patriarchate and hence made unsure of its femininity. [...] In this situation the woman often sees no choice left her but to rid herself of her femininity and to transform herself into a quasi-masculine being."[5]


In The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious Carl Jung says that girls sometimes reject the maternal influence and/or become too attached to their father; it can result in a weakening of maternal instincts "to the point of complete extinction."[6] Jung provides a couple personality profiles:


In one example, the maternal instinct is effectively absent altogether, and "[a]s a substitute, an overdeveloped Eros results, and this almost invariably leads to an unconscious incestuous relationship with the father. The intensified Eros places an abnormal emphasis on the personality of others. Jealousy of the mother and the desire to outdo her become the leitmotifs of subsequent undertakings, which are often disastrous. A woman of this type loves romantic and sensational episodes for their own sake, and is interested in married men, less for themselves than for the fact that they are married and so give her an opportunity to wreck a marriage, that being the whole point of her manoeuvre. Once the goal is attained, her interest evaporates for lack of any maternal instinct, and then it will be someone else's turn. This type is noted for its remarkable unconsciousness. Such women really seem to be utterly blind to what they are doing, which is anything but advantageous either for themselves or for their victims. I need hardly point out that for men with a passive Eros this type offers an excellent hook for anima projections."[7]


In another example, a weakening of maternal instincts results in "resistance to the mother." Jung says it represents "an overwhelming resistance to maternal supremacy, often to the exclusion of all else. [...] The motto of this type is: Anything, so long as it is not like Mother! [...] All instinctive processes meet with unexpected difficulties; either sexuality does not function properly, or the children are unwanted, or maternal duties seem unbearable, or the demands of marital life are responded to with impatience and irritation. [...] Again, resistance to the mother can sometimes result in a spontaneous development of intellect for the purpose of creating a sphere of interest in which the mother has no place. [...] Intellectual development is often accompanied by the emergence of masculine traits in general."[8]


Carl Jung stresses that in normal daily life these female temperaments have their positive, pro-social aspects. Jung points out that as manifestations of the feminine, they represent mystery, challenge, and learning for the right male partner. 


For example, concerning the first personality portrait (the home-wrecker with "an overdeveloped Eros"), Jung sees such women as a challenge to men who have fallen too deeply into the complacency of marriage. Jung says that marital complacency can become a trap for men: "This is a slippery path that can easily degrade marriage to the level of a mere breeding-pen. A woman of this type directs the burning ray of her Eros upon a man whose life is stifled by maternal solicitude, and by doing so she arouses a moral conflict." Jung believes that, in general, people should be striving to reach their maximum psychological potential, and he believes that a jolt of this nature can be salutary for all involved. In that sense, such a woman can play the role of a "deliverer and redeemer," challenging the status quo and pushing people out of their comfortable ruts: "The woman whose fate it is to be a disturbing element is not solely destructive, except in pathological cases. Normally the disturber is herself caught in the disturbance; the worker of change is herself changed, and the glare of the fire she ignites both illuminates and enlightens all the victims of the entanglement. What seemed a senseless upheaval becomes a process of purification."[9]


Concerning the second one ("an overwhelming resistance to maternal supremacy"), Jung says, "Excelling her more feminine sister in her objectivity and coolness of judgment, she may become the friend, sister, and competent adviser of her husband. Her own masculine aspirations make it possible for her to have a human understanding of the individuality of her husband quite transcending the realm of the erotic."[10]


In other words, as was the case with the various types of matriarchal orientation, none of these personality portraits intrinsically represents a form of pathology or mental illness. In normal day-to-day life these are law-abiding, virtuous people who contribute positively to society. It's only to the extent that they occasionally drift into periods of stress, anxiety, depression, personal crises, etc. that patriarchal orientation becomes increasingly severe and leads to patriarchal castration and a full-scale Great Father fight.

Link: Return to Sensing (S)

~Posted November 14, 2023


[1] Erich Neumann, The Fear of the Feminine, and Other Essays on Feminine Psychology (Essays of Erich Neumann, Vol 4), trans. Matthews, Doughty, Rolfe, and Cullingworth, Bollingen Series LXI, 4, (Princeton University Press, 1994), pp. 262-264.

[2] C.G. Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious (The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Vol. 9, part 1), trans. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XX (Bollingen Foundation Inc., 1959), p. 214, par. 396.

[3] Erich Neumann, The Fear of the Feminine, and Other Essays on Feminine Psychology (Essays of Erich Neumann, Vol 4), trans. Matthews, Doughty, Rolfe, and Cullingworth, Bollingen Series LXI, 4, (Princeton University Press, 1994), p. 265.

[4] Ibid., p. 267.

[5] Ibid., pp. 268-269.

[6] C.G. Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious (The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Vol. 9, part 1), trans. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XX (Bollingen Foundation Inc., 1959), p. 86, par. 163.

[7] Ibid., pp. 88-89, par. 168.

[8] Ibid., pp. 90-91, pars. 170-171.

[9] Ibid., pp. 95-96, pars.176 and 180.

[10] Ibid., pp. 98-99, par. 184.

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