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Sensing (S)

Introduction

A note on nomenclature

Sensing as a psychological function is traditionally abbreviated as S. When it is the dominant function, it is abbreviated as "S-Dom." Adults who use Sensing as their "dominant" (preferred) psychological function are called "S-Doms." And because I'm associating Sensing with a specific developmental stage, specifically childhood, I will refer to the childhood/Sensing developmental stage as "the S level."

 

S level: The basics

In my introductory essay on developmental levels, I suggested that Sensing (the S level) has some similarities with how people experience the world in childhood. These similarities manifest as conscious but non-rational (non-logical) thought that utilizes differentiation & narrative (non-association). 

 

Adults who use Sensing as their "dominant" (preferred) psychological function (S-Doms) focus on the outer world and emphasize differentiation: Slicing, dicing, and analyzing data collected from the world around them. From this S-Doms derive narratives and rules describing how the world works.

Everyone has the capacity to use Sensing; but S-Doms tend to use it as their preferred way of interacting with the world.

Comparing the N level to the S level

Intuition

(These ideas were explained in the chapter on Intuition)

Main theme: Unconscious; unity and association

Main motif: Participation mystique and sense of the numinous

Cultural level: From animism up to fertility religions

Parent representatives: Great Mother versus Antagonist

Ego representatives: Son-lover versus Struggler

Ego main dichotomy: Immersion versus Distancing

Centroversion: Interdependence and secure attachment style

 

Sensing

(These ideas will be explained in the following essays)

Main theme: Consciousness; differentiation and narrative

Main motif: Relationships and the working-out of peer relations

Cultural level: Patriarchal polytheism

Parent representatives: Exogamy versus Men's societies; Sexuality versus Spirituality

Ego representatives: Hero versus Redeemer

Ego main dichotomy: Reciprocal altruism versus Sacralization

Centroversion: Agenda and negotiation

Intro

S level = Childhood

Childhood

In my introductory essay on Intuition (the N level), I mentioned that I was largely pulling my ideas from The Origins and History of Consciousness by Erich Neumann, and that Neumann anticipated many of the cognitive processes of infancy by studying early religions. As I said in that essay, "our brain architecture tends to operate at both the 'personal' level and the 'transpersonal' level: Our developmental stages are experienced in our own individual lives (the personal level) and also become reflected in our culture, our myths, our religions, etc. (the transpersonal level)."

 

The same principles largely apply to Sensing (the S level). Sensing begins to manifest itself at about age 3 up to the approach of puberty. Children at that age are self-aware and are engaging in conscious thought. However they don't have much capacity for rational and logical thought, at least in the earlier years, and are largely driven by their emotions.

 

Therefore in the following essays I will largely be following the pattern I established in the essays on Intuition: I will use Neumann as my primary source with numerous references to mythology reflecting the S-level development stage.

~Posted October 19, 2023

Separation of the World Parents

SepWP

Introduction

The S level is effectively the opposite of the previous N level. However, there is a relatively smooth and seamless transition from the latter to the former. Therefore the best way to tackle the S level is to recap the basics of the N level and then describe how the S level grows out of that foundation.

 

Recapping the N level: In my previous essays on Intuition, I said that cognitive processes at the infancy/Intuition developmental stage (the N level) are jumbled and relatively nonsensical. At the beginning of separation-individuation the infant is barely able to distinguish himself as a separate entity from the mother. And even when the infant is able to make that distinction, everything else (mother, father, siblings, animals, the world) is still merged together in the entity that the infant recognizes only as "the Great Mother."

 

At the S level: That all changes with the awakening of consciousness. The child begins to distinguish the difference between mother and father; and from that, he registers a distinction between the sexes. With consciousness, the child separates out his conscious ego from his id and forces the latter into unconsciousness. The child also becomes increasingly aware of his vulnerable position in the family and begins to desire increased prestige, albeit at the cost of fidelity to the parents who serve as reminders of his vulnerability. (All this will be described below.)

Separation of the world parents and the concept of "oppositeness"

In The Origins and History of Consciousness Erich Neumann suggests that consciousness arises in the young child at the point when he begins to distinguish between the father and the mother. In early culture this is represented by creation myths representing the "Separation of the world parents."

 

Erich Neumann says that many creation myths around the world follow a typical pattern. The myths describe a world of darkness: The sky and earth are so intertwined and connected that no light peeps out and the earth can't be used by humans. A hero arrives and pries the two apart, pushing the sky upward and the earth downward, creating light and making the earth habitable.

 

In The Origins and History of Consciousness Neumann shows how this pattern appears in creation myths of the Maoris, Egyptians, Indians, and even in Genesis 1/1 - 1/4 of the Old Testament.[1] In The Hero with a Thousand Faces Joseph Campbell examines the same pattern in various tribal myths.[2] In Maps of Meaning Jordan B. Peterson describes the same pattern in creation myths of the Sumerians and Mesopotamians.[3]

 

Neumann points out that the cognitive process responsible for this new development is the child's growing understanding of the concept of "oppositeness" at the S level. As the psychologist Anthony Storr notes, "Human beings, because of the nature of thought and language, are bound to categorize things as opposites; that is, all human statements are antinomian."[4]

Recapping the N level: Back at the N level the process of separation-individuation caused the infant to distinguish itself from the Great Mother; but that wasn't oppositeness as such. It was simply a type of "healthy narcissism," a process of registering the existence of oneself within the universe. Oppositeness, as such, didn't exist at the N level: The Great Mother herself was still a jumbled conglomerate of everything else in the universe  that wasn't part of oneself. Everything was compacted into cycles: Light alternated with darkness, hunger alternated with satiety; and they were interpreted as complementary parts of a single whole, in other words, yin yielding to yang and vice versa. In the N-level world, for example, light and dark blend together into a permanent overall twilight were one or the other may predominate as the cycle progresses.

 

At the S level: The grasping of the concept of "opposites" at the S level suddenly allows for yin to be separated out and comprehended apart from yang. Erich Neumann says that the opposition of light and dark is the first and most important opposition to be comprehended. Hence the appearance of light usually plays a big part in creation myths: Light is separated out from darkness, and night and day are comprehended as opposites rather than as a permanent twilight cycle. At the cultural level, the comprehension of light and dark as opposites signals the first day and night of the newly-created world.

 

Once the young child discovers the principle of "oppositeness," other pairs of opposites suddenly make their appearance.

Oppositeness - Mother versus Father

Recapping the N level: The father figure was initially absent at the start of the N level. If he was represented at all, he showed up as phallic accessories on the body of the Great Mother (masculine attributes attributed to females, as in such creatures as Weird Sisters, hags, and witches) or as a dangerous animal companion. When infants began to distinguish a masculine influence, it showed up as the Antagonist: a masculine companion (a priest, a warrior, a henchman) who did the bidding of the Great Mother. In short, at the N level the father was just a malevolent accessory to or extension of the Great Mother.

 

At the S level: With the "Separation of the world parents" and his comprehension of opposites, the child begins to understand that the father is an entity separate and independent from the mother. However, this is a process rather than a revelation. Up until now the universe has only consisted of the Great Mother and the child. So when the child registers the independence of the father, he concludes that the father must be some kind of twin or sibling, that is, a child like himself. 

 

Eventually the child comes to the realization that the father is in fact on the same level as the mother: A second independent parent. This is the final step in the process of the "Separation of the world parents." However in the world view of the child, separation implies oppositeness: As the child increasingly differentiates between the two parents, he focuses on the differences between the parents rather than the similarities. The result is that the child becomes aware of the difference between male and female.

 

This, then, becomes the child's first intimation of the difference between the sexes and, eventually, how gender roles operate in the larger world around them. Recall that the S level occurs at the age of about 3-10. Children at the early end of this range are quite engrossed by questions about differences in the sexes: They are trying to make sense of the world as viewed through the lens of oppositeness.

Oppositeness: Consciousness versus unconscious

Recapping the N level: Prior to separation-individuation (at the stage of the Son-lover) the newborn didn't distinguish itself from the Great Mother; there was awareness of the world but no self-awareness. It was the original state of paradise, the Garden of Eden.[5]

 

But as separation-individuation progressed, the ego increasingly distinguished itself from the Great Mother and even registered the Great Mother as a threat to consciousness and, as a result, existence. Paradise is lost and the ego is locked out of the Garden of Eden.

 

Separation-individuation is registered as a painful process. As Jordan B. Peterson remarks in Maps of Meaning"The initial paradisal state is typically disrupted, in mythological representation, by some fateful act undertaken by man—by some act that places him in opposition to his heavenly source. Such opposition is painful, and is often portrayed as a dreadful mistake or sin."[6]

 

At the S level: As described above, further development of the ego results in a transition from separation-individuation to "Separation of the world parents." The child increasingly registers and relates to the parents personally rather than as remote and terrifying forces dispensing both nurture and pain. At age 3-10, the child's ego grows at the expense of the parents, who are respectively deflated and devalued from the child's viewpoint. As the child gains agency and independence, the parents are demoted from gods to humans.

But as in the case of separation-individuation, this is a painful process. As Erich Neumann says, "this separation is not experienced only as passive suffering and loss, but also as an actively destructive deed. It is symbolically identical with killing, dismemberment, and castration." But this time, "killing, dismemberment, and castration" are done by the youth to the World Parents. What the maternal uroboros once did to the infant is now done by the youth to the parents. At the cultural level, separation myths include both the castration of a father-god by a son-god and the cutting up of a primordial dragon and building a world from it. Mutilation of the parents is a necessary part of the myth. Neumann says, "Without the slaying of the old parents, their dismemberment and neutralization, there can be no beginning."[7] But the toppling of the old nature and fertility gods comes at a price. The deed of the hero is seen as "a monstrous misdeed and a sin."[8]

 

This is the origin of the concept of guilt. Previously, at the N level, there was no division into a conscious and an unconscious world. Due to N-level participation mystique, there was no feeling of loneliness. But with the "Separation of the world parents" at the S level, Neumann says that the ego "finds itself in a state of loneliness and discord." With individuality comes loneliness, "which is the necessary concomitant of egohood and particularly of an ego conscious of its own existence." Neumann goes on to say that the ego is not only lonely but eventually registers all kinds of other troubles: "suffering, toil, trouble, evil, sickness, and death. [...] By discovering itself, the lonely ego simultaneously perceives the negative and relates to it, so that it at once establishes a connection between these two facts, taking its own genesis as guilt and suffering, sickness, and death as condign punishment. The whole life feeling of primitive man is haunted by the negative influences all around him, and at the same time by the consciousness that he is to blame for everything negative that befalls."[9]

 

Neumann says that there is also a "fundamental cleavage into a conscious portion of the personality, whose center is the ego, and a far greater unconscious portion." With the recognition of the concept of oppositeness, opposites can no longer exist side by side. "With the development and elaboration of the opposition between conscious and unconscious, they fly apart. That is to say, it is no longer possible for an object to be loved and hated at the same time. Ego and consciousness identify themselves in principle with one side of the opposition and leave the other in the unconscious, either preventing it from coming up at all, i.e. consciously suppressing it, or else repressing it, i.e., eliminating it from consciousness without being aware of doing so. [...The ego] consequently loses the wholeness and completeness of its world picture." [10]

 

Once the child is of age to begin school, the schools pick up the job of further socialization: "The primordial, unconscious world of childhood, the world of dream and fairy tale, and also of children's drawings and children's games, fades in increasing measure before the reality of the external world."[11]

Oppositeness: Fertility goddesses versus Patriarchal polytheism

Recapping the N level: The separation-individuation process caused the infant to distinguish itself from the Great Mother; in the process of distinguishing itself from the Great Mother, the infant associated the Great Mother with unconsciousness and itself with consciousness. Again, that wasn't oppositeness as such. It was simply a type of "healthy narcissism," a process of registering the existence of the self.

 

At the S level: With the "Separation of the world parents" comes the discovery of oppositeness of the parents. However, oppositeness of the parents has one other far-reaching consequence: If the Great Mother is associated in the mind of the child with unconsciousness, sleep, death, and darkness, then by virtue of the quality of "oppositeness" the father becomes a "Great Father" entity and is associated with consciousness, daylight, activity, life, and the sun. In other words, the ego endows the father with the quality of oppositeness to the Great Mother, and the Antagonist becomes the Great Father--henceforth an ally in the ego's fight against unconsciousness.

Erich Neumann says that with the separation of the parents, the ego finds itself "poised between the lower, feminine world of earth and body, and the higher, masculine world of heaven and spirit. But since consciousness and the ego always experience themselves as masculine, this lower earth-world is taken to be the world of the Great Mother, and consequently hostile to the ego, while heaven is sensed as the ego-friendly world of the spirit, later personified as the All-Father."[12]

 

Neumann states that this process is true for children of both sexes.[13] In The Great Mother, Neumann says that "in both sexes the active ego consciousness is characterized by a male symbolism, the unconscious as a whole by a female symbolism."[14] "All this is equally true of the male personality and of the female, whose conscious ego usually takes a male form in confronting the unconscious."[15]

At the cultural level, this new opposition is equated with the commencement of patriarchal polytheism. This is a huge shift in the cultural life of humankind which reflects a similar shift in the perception of the child: The N level was ruled by a single fearful fertility goddess that hovered over the child and encompassed the entire universe. But via the mechanisms of devaluation of the parents, projection of the contents of the newly-formed unconscious into heaven and hell, and the ascension of the Great Father in the estimation of the ego, the S level becomes a world of multiple gods and goddesses living at a distance. Furthermore, the heavens are ruled by the masculine Great Father while the feminine is relegated to the nether world of the unconscious. The female fertility goddesses are shouldered out and relegated to secondary status by the new patriarchal gods.

 

I mentioned above that the growing child has an increasingly personal relationship with the parents at the S level, which I have described as a devaluation of the parents from godlike status to the status of human. Similarly, the gods of patriarchal polytheism reflect this change: They are more personal and more relatable than the primordial fertility goddesses. Erich Neumann says, "The more anthropomorphic the world of gods becomes, the closer it is to the ego and the more it loses its overwhelming character. The Olympian gods are far more human and familiar than the primeval goddess of chaos."[16]

Differentiation

Oppositeness is just the first step within a larger process called "Differentiation." Erich Neumann says that the process starts with recognition of "the sequence of light and darkness, thus widening the scope of consciousness and one's grasp of reality. [...] Gradually, with the growth of consciousness, things and places were organized into an abstract system and differentiated from one another. [...] Not only do day and night, back and front, upper and lower, inside and outside, I and You, male and female, grow out of this development of opposites and differentiate themselves from the original promiscuity, but opposites like 'sacred' and 'profane,' 'good' and 'evil' are now assigned their place in the world."[17]

 

Differentiation is produced via fragmentation, isolation, compartmentalization, and analysis. Differentiation is the foundation of rationality and science. We fragment things into parts in order to analyze them. Neumann says, "The more complex a content is, the less it can be grasped and measured by consciousness [...] [C]onsciousness can only keep a small segment sharply in focus; consequently it has to break up a large content into partial aspects, experiencing them piecemeal, one after the other, and then learn to get a synoptic view of the whole terrain by comparison and abstraction."[18]

 

Another feature of Differentiation is that it builds up the Great Father at the expense of the Great Mother. A few paragraphs above, I said, If the Great Mother is associated in the mind of the child with unconsciousness, sleep, death, and darkness, then by virtue of oppositeness the father becomes a 'Great Father' entity and is associated with consciousness, daylight, activity, life, and the sun. In this context, Erich Neumann says of Differentiation: "To discriminate, to distinguish, to mark off, to isolate oneself from the surrounding context--these are the basic acts of consciousness." But that occurs in opposition to the tendency of the unconscious, which is "to combine and melt down", in other words, to seek Associations. Thus, Neumann says that "to become conscious of oneself, to be conscious at all, begins with saying 'no' to the uroboros, to the Great Mother, to the unconscious."[19]

 

Erich Neumann adds, "The correlation of consciousness with masculinity culminates in the development of science, as an attempt by the masculine spirit to emancipate itself from the power of the unconscious. Wherever science appears it breaks up the original character of the world, which was filled with unconscious projections. Thus, stripped of projection, the world becomes objective, a scientific construction of the mind. In contrast to the original unconsciousness and the illusory world corresponding to it, this objective world is now viewed as the only reality. In this way, under the continual tutelage of the discriminative, masculine spirit, ever searching for laws and principles, the 'reality principle' comes to be represented by men."[20]

For a little deeper dive on this subject, see the following supplemental essay:

Link to supplemental essay: The Transition From N-level Association to S-level Differentiation

Fragmentation and projection

Fragmentation and projection represent a variation on Differentiation. Fragmentation peels off aspects of the parents that may be difficult for the ego to handle for various reasons and places them in the newly-formed unconscious where they are free to be projected outward. As I said above, But via the mechanisms of devaluation of the parents, projection of the contents of the newly-formed unconscious into heaven and hell, and the ascension of the Great Father in the estimation of the ego, the S level becomes a world of multiple gods and goddesses living at a distance...

 

This explains why the gods remain infinite even as the parents are deflated down to human size. In other words, the reader may ask: If the gods of patriarchal polytheism are cultural (transpersonal) manifestations of the parents, then why don't humans deflate the gods all the way down to human status, that is, to the same extent that the child deflates the parents and eventually comes to recognize them as family members? Answer: As described above, socialization and considerations of rightness/wrongness (oppositeness) result in fragmenting off unrecognized fears and desires concerning the parents and casting them into the unconscious (via suppression/repression); once in the unconscious, such unrecognized fears and desires are free to be projected outward into heaven or hell where they can take on grandiose proportions.

 

This also explains why the Great Mother (at the N level) hovers immediately over the infant while the polytheistic gods (at the S level) are remote: The mechanism of projection puts the latter at a distance.

 

In other words, the very process of deflating the parents in our daily interactions with them feeds the unconscious with raw material via fragmentation which is then used to magnify and glorify unconscious attributes of the parents that are projected into the heavens or the underworld.

 

For a little deeper dive on this subject, see the following supplemental essay:

Link to supplemental essay: Examples of Fragmentation and Projection

Summary

  • Intuition = Unconscious, unity & connectedness, participation mystique and a sense of the numinous, matriarchal fertility religions

  • Sensing = Consciousness, oppositeness & differentiation, fragmentation & projection, patriarchal polytheism

~Posted October 19, 2023

Description of Sensing

Sensing

Review: System 1 versus System 2

In the chapter on Intuition I described the difference between "right hemisphere thinking" and "left hemisphere thinking." Following the example of Daniel Kahneman, I'm calling these types of thinking "System 1" versus "System 2":

  1. System 1: Right hemisphere; Unconscious, preconscious, and simple or repetitive conscious thinking

  2. System 2: Left hemisphere; Advanced consciousness and rationality.

I said that the two halves of the brain work together in the following manner: 

  1. System 1 (unconscious, preconscious, and simple consciousness) is our "autopilot" for dealing with mundane, repetitive tasks such as driving, simple mathematics, game play, etc., in other words, things that we do so often and repetitively that they "come naturally" to us. It is also our area for quick ideas and snap judgments when dealing with the unknown. It's our "gut instinct" when we have to make a snap decision under time pressures.

  2. System 2 (focus and rationality) is basically our "executive functions." It is our area for focusing and analyzing and making difficult decisions and maintaining self-control under stress. But it moves slowly and deliberately and it burns lots of energy and tires us out when we have to use it for long periods of time.

I also said: System 1 is adequate for most routine tasks during the day. Hypothetically it's possible to live one's entire life on System 1, cruising through life on autopilot, unreflective and uncurious, sticking to the known and the familiar, and reacting to events rather than initiating. [...] Nonetheless, most people use both Systems: In a typical day we use System 1 for repetitive tasks, and meanwhile some anomalies pop up and/or we engage in intellectual activities that require System 2 focus and attention. White-collar workers may make their living by engaging in "intellectual labor," in other words System 2 analysis and focus.

Sensing and use of System 1

In the chapter on Intuition, I said that Intuition was based firmly in the realm of System 1. As I'll describe below, Sensing also uses System 1 thinking.

At the beginning of this chapter on Sensing I said: Sensing begins to manifest itself at about age 3 up to the approach of puberty. Children at that age are self-aware and are engaging in conscious thought. However they don't have much capacity for rational and logical thought, at least in the earlier years, and are largely driven by their emotions. This puts Sensing firmly in the realm of System 1. 

 

However, childhood (S level) use of System 1 is very different from infantile (N level) use of System 1.

Recapping Intuition: With regard to Intuition, I said that Intuition falls under System 1, and that System 1 is essentially driven by the Associative Mechanism. The Associative Mechanism operates very simply at the N level: Sensory inputs are jumbled together and combined wholesale into a state of unity and connectedness. Newborns swim in a state of participation mystique; early man lives immersed in nature cycles governed by fertility goddesses who are half-human and half-animal. Everything is connected. At the end of the essay on Intuition, I said that the takeaway is as follows: System 1 thinking = Associative mechanism = unity & connectedness = participation mystique and a sense of the numinous.

 

Sensing: Like Intuition, Sensing falls in the domain of System 1. Therefore the Associative Mechanism also drives System 1 for Sensing. However, Sensing is not connected with unconsciousness and unity, so Sensing does not result in a feeling of participation mystique. Instead, as described in the previous section, Sensing is a conscious psychological function (using simple or repetitive conscious thinking), and it is driven by differentiation. As a result, the Associative Mechanism operates with greater complexity. Opposite elements have to be separated out; and similar elements have to be strung together in order to make sense of them. Causality, consistency, and coherence become the principles for associating thoughts (see below). The result is the construction of narratives.

Thus, summing up the contrast between Intuition versus Sensing:

  • Intuition: System 1 Associative Mechanism & N-level unconsciousness & unity → participation mystique and a sense of the numinous.

  • Sensing: System 1 Associative Mechanism & S-level consciousness & differentiation → causality, consistency, and coherence → narrative.

System 1 at the S level = Causality, consistency, and coherence

Once again: At the S level, the Associative Mechanism of System 1 operates with greater complexity. In his book Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman talks about "our need for coherence: a large event is supposed to have consequences, and consequences need causes to explain them. We have limited information about what happened on a day, and System 1 is adept at finding a coherent causal story that links the fragments of knowledge at its disposal. [...] Finding such causal connections is part of understanding a story and is an automatic operation of System 1."[1] 

 

Kahneman says, "We are pattern seekers, believers in a coherent world [...] You can see why assuming causality could have had evolutionary advantages. It is part of the general vigilance that we have inherited from ancestors. We are automatically on the lookout for the possibility that the environment has changed."[2] Kahneman adds, "Experiments have shown that six-month-old infants see the sequence of events as a cause-effect scenario, and they indicate surprise when the sequence is altered."[3] 

 

And this is due specifically to the action of System 1 and its Associative Mechanism: "System 1 is highly adept in one form of thinking—it automatically and effortlessly identifies causal connections between events, sometimes even when the connection is spurious."[4]

Narratives

I have described how Differentiation divides up the world (and its inputs) into discrete packets of information; and then System 1 links those packets via causal connections and assigns meaning to that linkage. From this, we generate narratives.

 

Of course, narratives come in a number of forms, from simple cause-and-effect relationships ("I bumped my cup of coffee, and it spilled") to complex (short stories, novels, and plays). Since the S level concerns the childhood years, I am mainly concerned here with the simpler types of narratives that children embrace: Children are wildly interested in narrative explanations of the world around them, from fairy tales to comic books to movies about detectives, soldiers, superheroes, etc. I will be discussing a variation on such narratives, the so-called Hero's Journey as associated with the S level, in another essay below.

 

More advanced variations on the narrative include such things as the agendas we adopt in pursuing an undertaking or goal, the purposes we espouse in different phases of our life, and the very meaning of life itself that we choose to embrace. Those are the sorts of narratives that concern adults, and I will be discussing those elsewhere.

Sense of life

Finally, our narratives include an innate "sense of life" that we carry within us, both as children and as adults. I said in an earlier discussion on System 1 versus System 2 that: 

  • System 1 is our "autopilot" or "gut instincts" for dealing with mundane, repetitive tasks; whereas

  • System 2 steps in at intervals to provide focus, analysis, and decision-making for more complex tasks. 

 

In order to operate on autopilot, System 1 develops narratives that make up our "sense of life." Kahneman says: "The main function of System 1 is to maintain and update a model of your personal world, which represents what is normal in it. The model is constructed by associations that link ideas of circumstances, events, actions, and outcomes that co-occur with some regularity, either at the same time or within a relatively short interval. As these links are formed and strengthened, the pattern of associated ideas comes to represent the structure of events in your life, and it determines your interpretation of the present as well as your expectations of the future."[5]

In other words, we spend most of our day on System 1 autopilot. As long as our experiences in the outside world match our "sense of life," we continue acting on autopilot. But when our "sense of life" is suddenly violated by an anomaly in the outside world (a car suddenly swerves in front of us in traffic, a stranger starts yelling in a restaurant, there's an unexpected plot twist in a movie we're watching), the violation of our System 1 expectations causes System 2 to snap on and try to analyze the situation for possible action.

 

Kahneman says, "When System 1 runs into difficulty, it calls on System 2 to support more detailed and specific processing that may solve the problem of the moment. [...] You can also feel a surge of conscious attention whenever you are surprised. System 2 is activated when an event is detected that violates the model of the world that System 1 maintains." [6]

 

Our "sense of life" also has a far-reaching effect on our self-esteem. To the extent that the narratives that we choose are accurate, they are confirmed by events in life and our expectations and hopes are affirmed. On the other hand, to the extent that the narratives that we choose are unrealistic (overly sentimental or ideological or self-centered or otherwise don't correspond to the life taking place around us), the feedback we receive from life is negative. Life repeatedly tells us, "Your values are a delusion, and you as a person are wrong." Too much of that kind of message, and we get in the habit of hunkering down and trying to avoid more disappointments and disillusionment. We can become so focused on avoiding the negative that we never even learn to aspire to the positive.

 

Thus the concept of narrative is central to our understanding of the world around us, both as children and adults, and the S level is where we as children (or as early humankind) begin to work out our narratives.

Narratives - Conclusion

Thus the concept of narrative is central to our understanding of the world around us, both as children and adults, and the S level is where we as children (or as early humankind) begin to work out our narratives.

 

Definition of Sensing

Carl Jung suggested that there are 4 basic psychological functions. He also said that people tend to have a dominant psychological function as their primary lens through which they view life, in other words, for routine and automated interpretation of the world around us.

A typical description of Sensing includes:

  • Focuses on what is real and actual

  • Values practical applications

  • Is factual and concrete, notices details

  • Observes and remembers sequentially

  • Is present-oriented

  • Trusts experience

  • Wants information step-by-step

 

These features result from three main attributes of Sensing: 

  1. Consciousness; 

  2. Differentiation; and 

  3. Causality, coherency, and consistency, resulting in narrative.

 

So I want to take this opportunity to summarize those attributes. Also, both Intuition and Sensing use System 1 and the Associative mechanism; so in the following sections I will contrast Intuition and Sensing and how they use System 1.

1) Sensing = Use of consciousness

Recapping Intuition: At the N level the newborn was unconscious and reacting to the Great Mother: Sense impressions from the outer world arrived in a jumble (unity) and were inputted without any kind of processing. Such impressions fed directly into the System 1 Associative mechanism, where the ego perceived itself as living in a twilight environment of participation mystique and a sense of the numinous.

 

Sensing: Sensing is effectively the opposite of Intuition. As a conscious psychological function, Sensing perceives the outer world as the focus of attention and emphasizes immediacy, sensation, and concreteness. Erich Neumann says that the process of becoming conscious means saying "no" to the uroboros/Great Mother/unconscious. This is a negative act: "To discriminate, to distinguish, to mark off, to isolate oneself from the surrounding context--these are the basic acts of consciousness." Neumann goes on to say that this is the foundation of the scientific method: To isolate and analyze. Hence, this is in opposition to the "tendency of the unconscious to combine and melt down." [7]

2) Sensing = Differentiation

Recapping Intuition: Infants aren't able to differentiate and sort things into categories. Thus, the adult N-Dom's focus isn't on specific things or people themselves, but rather on how those things and people fit into a larger context. N-Doms use the Associative Mechanism to juxtapose seemingly unrelated thoughts and make far-flung connections, as though building spiderwebs of thought. As a result, Intuition is very stream-of-consciousness and often abstract, even philosophical.

 

Sensing: Sensing is effectively the opposite of Intuition. The child is conscious and processing the world around itself by differentiating, at first into opposites and then into other categorizations. The S-Dom emphasizes organization and procedure: Slicing, dicing, and analyzing data collected from the world around him. An emphasis on cause and effect results in a need to isolate and analyze: Carl Jung says that "The causalism that underlies our scientific view of the world breaks everything down into individual processes which it punctiliously tries to isolate from all other parallel processes. This tendency is absolutely necessary if we are to gain reliable knowledge of the world..."[8]

3) Sensing = causality, coherency, and consistency, resulting in narrative

Recapping Intuition: Intuition doesn't differentiate, categorize, and analyze. Intuition uses System 1 and the Associative mechanism to find associations and figure out how things fit together. N-Doms use the Associative Mechanism to juxtapose seemingly unrelated thoughts and make far-flung connections, as though building spiderwebs of thought. As a result, Intuition is very stream-of-consciousness and often abstract, even philosophical.

 

Sensing: The child is conscious, but consciousness isn't the same as rationality. A young child is still predominantly using System 1 and the Associative mechanism. The difference here is that sense impressions from the outer world are differentiated and categorized upon arrival, at which point the Associative mechanism processes them in terms of causality, coherency, and consistency in order to derive a narrative to describe the outer world. The result is an emphasis on sequence and step-by-step order, resulting in a concrete and linear tendency of thought.

Drawbacks of Sensing used as a System 1 function

When talking about Intuition used as a System 1 function, I said that a lack of critical thinking can lead to problems like jumping to conclusions, confirmation bias, etc. I said, Intuition by itself is a very targeted function with a focus on finding associations between seemingly unrelated thoughts. And if N-Doms don't work to develop System 2 functions alongside their Intuition, they may be particularly weak at differentiating, categorizing, and analyzing.

 

Sensing similarly develops under the general umbrella of System 1 thinking; the prefrontal cortex required for System 2 is still relatively undeveloped in young children. So Sensing is also prone to certain types of cognitive errors. The need for causality, coherency, and consistency can lead us into error. Daniel Kahneman says, "We are prone to exaggerate the consistency and coherence of what we see. [...] System 1 runs ahead of the facts in constructing a rich image on the basis of scraps of evidence. [...] More generally, it will produce a representation of reality that makes too much sense."[9]

 

Kahneman calls it a "narrative fallacy." System 1 "simplifies our lives by creating a world that is much tidier than reality."[10] For example, there's the "halo effect": We like to believe that politicians whom we like can do no wrong, businesses and products that we like are automatically the best available, technologies that we like are automatically presumed to have little risk or downsides, in short, everything presents itself in nice blacks and whites and all decisions are easy. By contrast, failures occurring in a person or a technology that we like (or positive features appearing in a person or a technology that we dislike) result in cognitive dissonance: "Inconsistencies reduce the ease of our thoughts and the clarity of our feelings."[11]

 

As was the case with Intuition, System 2 is our corrective for such problems. By adulthood people have gone through all the developmental stages and as a result have access to the full panoply of psychological functions. As adults, S-Doms have access to System 2 executive functions.

 

Still, it takes some self-discipline to turn on System 2 to double-check ourselves when our "gut instinct" about someone or something seems too neat, too pat, or too simplistic to be realistic. As I said in the chapter on Intuition: System 1 is adequate for most routine tasks during the day. Hypothetically it's possible to live one's entire life on System 1, cruising through life on autopilot, unreflective and uncurious, sticking to the known and the familiar, and reacting to events rather than initiating. So it's up to us to apply System 2 thinking as a corrective to uncritical System 1 Sensing when appropriate.

Summary

Recapping Intuition: Sys 1 = Associative mechanism & unconsciousness & unity → participation mystique and a sense of the numinous. When this thought process is used by an adult N-Dom, the result is an abstract and philosophical tendency of thought.

 

Sensing: Sys 1 = Associative mechanism & consciousness & differentiation → causality, coherency, and consistency → narrative. When this thought process is used by an adult S-Dom, the result is a concrete and linear tendency of thought. 

Given that Sensing reflects a childhood developmental stage, all normal adults have utilized the Associative Mechanism underlying Sensing as part of the childhood environment and can use it in a pinch as adults; but adult S-Doms tend to use it as their preferred way of interacting with the world on a regular basis, that is, focusing on immediacy, sensation, organization, and procedure.

 

I want to reiterate the following from Developmental Levels:

 

One might ask: If Sensing develops in childhood, does that mean adult S-Doms think like children? Answer: No. Adult S-Doms are using an adult version of an early "function level." Adult S-Doms achieve the cognitive sophistication of full adulthood with experience in all four function levels; but it suits them to give preference to an early level (the Sensing-based functional level) and ratchet that upward to adult competency with help from the System 2 executive functions and the other three function levels as needed.

 

But Sensing by itself is a very targeted function with a focus on differentiation and causality. If S-Doms don't work to develop System 2 functions alongside their Sensing, they may be prone to simplistic "gut instinct" narratives and weak at rationality, logic, and proactivity.

~Posted October 19, 2023

Great Mother Versus Great Father at the S Level

GMvsGF

Introduction

Back in the chapter on Intuition I said that the N-level infant doesn't initially register the father; if the father shows up at all, he appears as phallic accessories on the Great Mother or as a dangerous animal companion. But eventually Erich Neumann says that the infant begins to register the father as an angry maternal uncle or castrating priest who serves as companion to an otherwise benevolent Good Mother figure; he is the "destructive instrument of the matriarchate, as its henchman." Neumann calls this new figure "the Antagonist."

 

Subsequently, when talking about the S-level Separation of the world parents, I said that the child registers the "oppositeness" of the mother and father, which results in a new association: If the Great Mother is associated in the mind of the child with unconsciousness, sleep, death, and darkness, then by virtue of the quality of "oppositeness" the father becomes a "Great Father" entity and is associated with consciousness, daylight, activity, life, and the sun. In other words, [...] the Antagonist becomes the Great Father--henceforth an ally in the ego's fight against unconsciousness.

 

It's worth discussing at greater length the transition of the father image from N-level Antagonist to S-level Great Father, because so many important cultural trends start there: Patriarchal polytheism, traditional gender and sex roles, rise of the patriarchal culture in the West, etc.

The N-level Son-lover and Struggler

The N-level Son-lover represents the earliest phase of the N-level uroboric environment. The Son-lover doesn't register the father and focuses entirely on the Great Mother, who represents both male and female attributes; as I said previously, the Son-lover was an active and enthusiastic participant in the sadomasochistic rites of the Great Mother.

 

In contrast, the N-level Struggler begins to recognize the father as a separate figure, that is, as the Antagonist. But the Struggler is still at the N level and sees the Great Mother and the Antagonist as inseparable: The Antagonist is the castrating companion carrying out the dire will of the punishing Great Mother. So when the Struggler begins to rebel against the Great Mother and fight for independence, the Struggler doesn't really distinguish between the Great Mother and the Antagonist; both are a threat to his existence.

 

N-level Antagonist → S-level Twin

But with the child's transition to the S level, the child "fragments" the father off from the mother and begins to regard the two parents as separate entities with their own separate agendas. At first the child concludes that the father must be some kind of twin or sibling, that is, a child like himself. Also, the father is initially viewed as a hostile twin brother (reflecting the father's previous role as malevolent Antagonist).

 

But then the child comes to view the father through the prism of "oppositeness," and the father is fully de-linked and disassociated from the Great Mother and becomes a second parent: the Great Father. Mirroring the "bivalence" of the Great Mother, the child even fragments the Great Father into a bivalent pair:

  • A punishing Terrible Father who harkens back to the castrating Antagonist and is repressed into the unconscious; versus

  • A Good Father who becomes something of an ally for the child, a fellow Struggler living in the shadow of the Great Mother, a "Helpful twin" for the child.

 

Additionally, as the child grows and matures toward adolescence, his increasing alliance and identification with the father allows him to "fragment off" the hostility and aggression that belonged to the father in his roles as Antagonist and Hostile Twin, and the child is able to appropriate that aggression for his own use. This accomplishes two goals: 

  • The N-level Struggler, who was previously victimized by the Great Mother, becomes the aggressive S-level Hero who is capable of undertaking the Hero's Journey and conquering the Great Mother (to be described below); and

  • The Great Father, no longer deemed hostile, makes the transition in the child's mind from Hostile Twin to Good Father and becomes an ally and a model for male aggression and male gender roles.

 

In The Origins and History of Consciousness Erich Neumann puts it as follows: At the S level "the destructive masculine power aspect of the uroboros and Great Mother is assimilated by the ego and coordinated with personality and consciousness."[1]

For a little deeper dive on this subject, see the following supplemental essay:

Link to supplemental essay: Assimilation of the Aggression of the Antagonist

Principles of male association

At the transition from the N level to the S level, father and son are assumed to live in the shadow of the Great Mother and to have a common fate. So they find common cause. Masculinity is associated with an progressively active self-consciousness, and Erich Neumann says that father and son increasingly separate themselves from the N-level matriarchal womb and participation mystique, which are now experienced negatively as "the 'You,' the non-ego, something different and strange." At the cultural level, males go on to "associate with other males and form a hunter and fighter group which is coordinated with the feminine center of the matriarchate." The hunter and fighter group finds itself in constant danger, which is an added inducement to develop S-level consciousness and to split further away from the N-level psychology of the Great Mother, that is, the unconscious.[2]

 

Thus at the cultural level Neumann says that early culture is segregated into two separate groups, matriarchal versus patriarchal:

  • A matriarchal group that represents mass emotionality, strong local ties & inertia, a bond to nature and the instincts via menstruation, pregnancy, and lactation, a tie to earth via the development of gardening and agriculture, and the strengthening of participation mystique via community life huddled together in caves, houses, and villages. Neumann says that these activities represent an N-level psychology of community, association, and collectivism: "All these factors reinforce the submergence in the unconscious which is a characteristic feature of the female group."[3]

  • A male group representing roaming, hunting, and making war; a nomadic fighter group. These activities draw upon an S-level psychology of consciousness, differentiation, and attention to detail. Neumann says, "This masculine group is necessarily mobile and enterprising; moreover, in the situation of constant danger in which it finds itself, it has an added inducement to develop its consciousness. Here already, perhaps, is fostered the contrast between the psychology of male groups and the matriarchal psychology of the female."[4] [My bolding]

 

Neumann suggests that this increasing segregation by sex can be seen in the animal kingdom as well: "Even among animals, we frequently find that the young generation of the males is driven off and that the mother stays with the young females."[5]

Exogamy

In humans, segregation by sex is often associated with the practice of exogamy. Exogamy forbids intermarriage within the family unit in order to prevent incest and inbreeding. But it can serve a number of other interests, such as broadening the family unit to include outsiders or cementing friendly relations between competing tribes. Eric Neumann suggests that it also benefits the matriarchal system:  Men are obliged to marry outside the tribe and thus they are dispersed to other tribes and live as strangers there. In this way, the autonomy of the female group is strengthened, while the formation of male groups within the family unit is broken down.[6]

Men's societies (The Good Father)

But segregation of the men along with increasing male association as a group separate from the matriarchal society eventually leads to the creation of "Men's societies" that embody the Good Father aspect of the Great Father. Neumann says, "In the course of time the male group steadily gains in strength, and political, military, and economic considerations eventually lead to organized male groups in the nascent city and state. Within these groups the cultivation of friendships is more important than rivalry, and more stress is laid on male similarity, and on dissimilarity from the female, than on mutual jealousies. [...] Everywhere these men's societies are of the greatest importance, not only for the development of masculinity and of the man's consciousness of himself, but for the development of culture as a whole."[7]

 

Neumann emphasizes the S-level nature of Men's societies in early culture, that is, with an emphasis on consciousness and differentiation: There are initiations and trials of virility and stability of the ego, but these aren't punishments; they are "a certificate of maturity for entry into the collective." Initiation into the man's collective involves graduation to a "higher masculinity." Whereas initiations of girls are often sexual, initiations of boys are about "spirit, which appears together with light, the sun, the head, and the eye as symbols of consciousness."[8]

 

Neumann says, "The development of ego consciousness is paralleled by a tendency to make itself independent of the body. 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."[9] Neumann goes on to say that that the goal of all initiation is transformation, fellowship with a spiritual and heavenly world, and identification with totem ancestors and heaven. Heaven is equated with seeing and knowing, the head, consciousness, light, and sun.[10]

 

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." This reinforces the correlation between heaven and masculinity. Also, rites of initiation stress fire, wakefulness, alertness, being on watch, learning to overcome the body, endurance tests to overcome fear, hunger, and pain, etc. to fortify the ego and school the will. Neumann goes on to talk about how this grew into the patriarchal religions: Women were barred from spiritual activities, and the man's world, representing heaven, law, and tradition, basically became the source of all human culture.[11]

 

Neumann says that fathers represent civilization while mothers represent nature: "The men and the elders stand for 'heaven,' and they transmit the collective cultural heritage of their day and generation. '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, whereas the mothers control the highest, i.e., deepest values of life and nature."[12]

Cultural canon

However, the patriarchy isn't satisfied with sharing the stage with the feminine element. Men's societies aren't only about promoting individualism and development of consciousness. Because if Men's societies only addressed the conscious side of life, that would still leave the unconscious side of life in thralldom to the Great Mother and matriarchal culture. Thus, as part of their civilizing influence Men's societies create something called "Cultural canon" to address the unconscious side of life.

 

Teachers, masters, and leaders instruct children on social rules and how to function in the collective of the Men's societies: In other words, they transmit the prevailing "Cultural canon." Neumann says that such teachings in early societies included "religion, art, and the ceremonial group activities which may or may not be associated with these, such as the waging of war, feasts, processions, meetings, etc."[13]

 

Thus, the Cultural canon fulfills the role of matriarchal collectivism and shoulders aside the influence of the Great Mother in the unconscious: It provides meaningful S-level narratives that connect deeply with the unconscious but also serve the needs of the patriarchy. In this manner, both sides of life (conscious and unconscious) are monopolized by the patriarchy:

  • The Great Father and the conscious side of life are represented by teachers, masters, and leaders who serve as civilizing authorities;

  • The Great Mother and the unconscious side of life are pushed aside and replaced with symbols of the patriarchal collective: country, community, church, or political movement.[10]

 

With both sides of life (conscious and unconscious) covered, the patriarchy monopolizes life. Furthermore, as the patriarchy elevates the masculine element and shoulders aside the feminine there occurs a devaluation of the feminine. Hence the repression of the older feminine origins of things. For example, in the earliest myths the male sun was traditionally born from the female night. But in later sun religions the sun is the starting point, independent and self-sufficient. Similarly, the powerful Great Mother fertility goddesses that existed in early society are devalued by the patriarchy and become the witches and monsters of patriarchal polytheism.

 

For a little deeper dive on this subject, see the following supplemental essay:

Link to supplemental essay: Men's societies

~Posted November 14, 2023

Sexuality Versus Spirituality

SexVsSpirit

Introduction

Picking up from the end of the previous section: It may seem at this point as though the Great Father has a stranglehold on children's psychology. To recap:

  • At the N level, the Great Mother was the child's entire universe; good and evil were contained within the Great Mother and explained by virtue of "bivalence": Sometimes the Great Mother appeared as the nurturing Good Mother, and sometimes she appeared as the punishing Terrible Mother. In the meantime, by comparison, the father was barely registered. The father was the Antagonist, a mere companion to the Great Mother, one of her accessories. The father was barely an afterthought.

  • At the S level, on the other hand, the Great Father appears to have reared up, become the predominant feature on the landscape of the child's psychology, and shouldered out the Great Mother. Their positions now appear to be reversed. Not only has the Great Father materialized alongside the Great Mother as a second parent and commandeered consciousness, but he seems to have co-opted the Great Mother's hold over the unconscious by virtue of dictating the "Cultural canon." The Great Father, like the Great Mother, is bivalent: Sometimes the Great Father appears as the Good Father who provides structure, order, and security, and sometimes he appears as the Terrible Father who is the strict moralist, the raging tyrant, the punisher of fault and sin.

 

However, the Great Father's apparent stranglehold on the child's psychology at the S level is illusory. The Great Mother remains the formative influence on children of both sexes, and as such her grasp on the unconscious of the children remains strong. As I'll describe later, boys' sexuality remains tied up with the Great Mother and can only be separated from her with great difficulty; and girls' identity similarly remains bound to the Great Mother. In other words, the Great Father's influence over identity and culture is largely at the conscious level and simply doesn't run as deep into the unconscious as the Great Mother's influence.

 

So it is more accurate to say that the Great Mother and the Great Father have reached a state of parity: The Great Mother remains the queen of the unconscious even as the Great Father rules consciousness and culture. 

The four-position gender spectrum

Early societies came to reflect something like a four-position gender-related spectrum for the S level that is populated by both the Great Mother and Great Father:

 

One-sided Terrible Mother <-- Healthy Good Mother <--> Healthy Good Father --> One-sided Terrible Father

  • The "matriarchal" side of the spectrum represents the feminine side of the gender-related dichotomies mentioned so far: Community, association, collectivism, etc.

  • The "patriarchal" side of the spectrum represents the masculine side of the dichotomies mentioned so far: Consciousness, differentiation, individualism, etc.

 

One-sidedness operates at the S level in the same manner as at the N level: The two positions in the middle are healthy, and the extreme positions are one-sided and unhealthy.

  • The healthy positions represent traditional gender-related dichotomies as practiced normally in human society; 

  • The unhealthy positions represent situations where gender-related dichotomies go to extremes and represent traps and pitfalls for the unwary.

I will talk more about these latter distinctions below.

 

Disclaimer about "gender dichotomies"

It is important to note that these "gender-related dichotomies" (feminine versus masculine, collectivism versus individualism, Great Mother versus Great Father, Sexuality versus Spirituality, etc.) are not describing characteristics linked to biological sex but rather depicting cultural and archetypal opposites.

 

In other words, gender doesn't necessarily equate to biological sex. There have always been men with rich poetic or sentimental sensibilities, and women who embodied masculine toughness and analysis. Furthermore, modern Western culture in particular has been experimenting with the concept of deliberately and actively de-linking gender roles and gender identities from biological sex on a society-wide basis. (See below for more on this subject.)

 

However, this blog looks backward to a traditional concept of gender as understood by early societies and children, so it's appropriate in the current context to speak in terms of traditional "gender dichotomies."

 

Sexuality versus Spirituality

In The Origins and History of Consciousness Erich Neumann represented this traditional "gender dichotomy" as Sexuality (representing the Great Mother and the feminine influence) versus Spirituality (representing the Great Father and the masculine influence). Later, in The Fear of the Feminine, he called it Earth (feminine) versus Heaven (masculine).

 

The S-level Sexuality-versus-Spirituality dichotomy is basically an extension of an N-level dichotomy that I mentioned in the Intuition chapter: Instinctuality versus asceticism. The main difference is that both sides of N-level dichotomies were largely focused on attraction toward or rejection of the Great Mother; the father influence as represented by the Antagonist was a minimal presence at the N level. But with the advent of the S level and the Separation of the World Parents, the child begins to model dichotomies along gender lines. 

 

As described above in the section on the Separation of the World Parents, the S-level Sexuality-versus-Spirituality dichotomy derives from the way that S-level children see the world, which is subsequently mirrored in the make-up of early societies at the stage of patriarchal polytheism: Based on the concept of "oppositeness" the ego finds itself "poised between the lower, feminine world of earth and body, and the higher, masculine world of heaven and spirit. But since consciousness and the ego always experience themselves as masculine, this lower earth-world is taken to be the world of the Great Mother, and consequently hostile to the ego, while heaven is sensed as the ego-friendly world of the spirit, later personified as the All-Father."

 

Sexuality versus Spirituality: Healthy variants

Taking the two sides separately:

 

The feminine half of the dichotomy (Sexuality/Earth) derives in part from the nature of the N-level Great Mother as described in the previous chapter on Intuition: The Great Mother is connected with fertility religions and the harvest and hence tends to be an Earth Goddess or Nature goddess (Mother Nature). The Great Mother is a dark presence who hangs directly over us and exists in Nature around us, and thus is part of our earthly existence. Then, at the S level, women take on the attribute of sexuality within the context of marital partner and caretaker: Living in a collective environment that centers around the household, birthing, nurturing, feeding, and caretaking, women are enmeshed in the physical and sensual aspects of life. 

 

This carries over to the religious rituals dedicated to the Great Mother: While N-level fertility religions can be regarded as "spiritual" in a sense, Great Mother spirituality was colored by a highly physical/sexual tendency (as opposed to later Great Father spirituality, which was more ascetic). Thus, fertility rites included orgies, human sacrifice, blood rituals, etc. to placate the wrath of the Great Mother and put her in the mood to guarantee a bountiful hunt or harvest. Later, at the S level, religious rites dedicated to the feminine (so-called "mystery religions," for example) involved initiations into and celebration of the onset of menstruation, marriage, sex, and childbirth.

 

The masculine half of the dichotomy (Spirituality/Heaven) derives from the nature of the S-level Great Father as described in the current chapter on Sensing: Patriarchal polytheism puts the patriarchal gods and goddesses at a greater remove, in other words, far away in heaven. If the Great Mother goddesses are Earth goddesses, then the S-level patriarchal gods and goddesses are considered "Sky gods," that is, more spiritual and remote. And while the masculine influence can certainly be sexual, sex tends to be compartmentalized. Within the early S-level men's societies, women are devalued and men are taught to regard the sensual as a distraction and are trained to pursue the ascetic life. Women and their charms are regarded with suspicion. Sex is desirable for procreation, but aside from that sex is regarded as a distraction and a form of entrapment by the feminine. A male focus on the hunt or war or spirituality requires compartmentalizing sex and putting it off to the side. And when sex is finally indulged, it tends to be performed with focus and intensity, that is, with S-level differentiation and analysis. (For more on this, see the supplemental essay linked below.)

 

Underworld versus Despotism: One-sided variants (bivalence)

The two sides of the Sexuality-versus-Spirituality gender dichotomy each have their own bivalent, that is, a position of one-sidedness representing unhealthy extremes (equivalent to the Terrible Mother and Terrible Father). Again, taking them separately:

 

The bivalent of Sexuality: The underworld

If the Great Mother is represented by Sexuality at the S level, then her "bivalent"--the Terrible Mother--becomes the soul-destroying side of the physical and sensual: The underworld. In other words, when Spirituality defines itself in opposition to Sexuality, then the bivalent of Sexuality becomes Hell, symbolizing the entrapping womb which threatens to draw males back into the orbit of the Great Mother. And the earthly serpent or devil who inhabits Hell represents the daemonic father doing the bidding of the Terrible Mother. (See the chapter on Intuition for discussions of bivalence and the daemonic.)

 

I already mentioned this underworld symbolism in the Chapter on Intuition, in the Section entitled "The Great Mother Versus the Father at the N level": Neumann even describes a pagan version of Hell where the devil is a male figure who exists in a female underworld and serves as a destroying companion.

 

At the S level, the Great Father is in charge in the consciousness, and the feminine influence is defined in opposition to the spiritual father. 

  • Masculine spirituality: In The Fear of the Feminine Erich Neumann describes the male concept of spirituality in the following terms: "The world and humanity are torn asunder into an upper and a lower part, and there can be no reconciliation between them. To identify oneself with the upper, heavenly spirit part means to experience oneself as not-earthly and absolute, as though one 'genuinely' were pure spirit."[1]

  • Feminine sexuality: As a result, the "earthly" or sensual/physical feminine nature becomes a danger to men. The Great Mother becomes the Terrible Mother: "This means that the Earth, as the dark and feminine, was regarded as the coarse, sensual, tangible, material, this-worldly, and evil body that is a prison and a peril, to be associated with the lowest level of the world, with night and with hell. [...] The earthly side has to be sacrificed for the sake of Heaven, because 'human' Earth is from the beginning fallen and corrupted Earth. And Earth, the Earth Serpent, Woman and the instinctual world, as represented by sexuality, are evil, seductive, and accursed, and Man, who in virtue of his essential nature really belongs to Heaven, is the one who is only seduced and deceived. [...] For since body, Nature, and the world belong to the sphere of what is merely earthly and illusory, it is always the task of the heavenly Spirit, especially, of course, that which is alive in man, to withdraw ascetically from the perilous embrace of Earth."[2]

 

The bivalent of Spirituality: Despotism and brutality

If the Great Father came to be represented by Spirituality, then his "bivalent"--the Terrible Father--came to be seen as the soul-destroying side of the spiritual and godly: Despotism and brutality. In other words, when people define themselves in opposition to the Great Father, then the Great Father becomes a raging, vengeful god, a punishing force which threatens to annihilate and condemn them to eternal damnation. And Furies, harpies, nymphs, etc. accompany the gods and represent the daemonic mother doing the bidding of the Terrible Father.

 

In Greek mythology the high god Zeus was in charge of monitoring law and order and meting out justice. However, Zeus' form of justice was more of the "might makes right" variety rather than something we might honor today: Zeus was also a serial rapist of beautiful mortal women and sired many semi-divine heroes across the Greek world much to the chagrin of his wife Hera. 

 

Zeus could also be overly capricious or brutal in his exercise of power. In one myth, Zeus casts his son Hephaestus off Olympus for protecting Hera from his advances, causing Hephaestus to be left permanently lame by the fall to earth. In another myth, the titan Prometheus steals fire from the gods and passes it along to the early mortals; Zeus condemns Prometheus to eternal torment for this transgression, chaining him to a mountain and causing a giant eagle to attack him and eat his liver on a daily basis, with the liver growing back overnight.

In the old myths, the gods were often chilly, remote, and largely stayed out of the affairs of man until a time of great crisis, at which point the gods might take pity and step in to reward great heroism or punish great sin on one side or the other. In the meantime, a mortal who casually encountered a god by accident while hunting was to risk being torn to pieces by the god's attendant animals; to happen upon nymphs or naiads while fetching water at a spring was to risk being pulled into the water and drowned by them. 

 

Mortals were terrified of the old gods, and for good reason. Power is associated in the human mind with brutality, and it's not so far from one to the other for the old gods.

 

The four-position gender spectrum

Above, I suggested the following four-position gender spectrum: 

 

One-sided Terrible Mother <-- Healthy Good Mother <--> Healthy Good Father --> One-sided Terrible Father

 

When applied to the Sexuality-versus-Spirituality dichotomy, it can be rendered in the following manner:

 

The underworld <-- Sexuality <--> Spirituality --> Despotism

Apropos of the Sexuality-versus-Spirituality dichotomy and its bivalents, I have written a supplemental essay to explore a couple tangents concerning interactions between the sexes as viewed through the prism of that dichotomy:

Link to supplemental essay: Devaluation and Objectification

 

The gender dichotomy as applied to children

Once young children learn to distinguish the father from the mother and begin to identify a "gender dichotomy" based on the concept of "oppositeness," there remains the question of how they apply that dichotomy to themselves.

 

To review:

 

Previously, at the N level, there was no such dichotomy. Infants at the N level only recognized the Great Mother, and as a function of the process of separation-individuation infants of both sexes defined themselves in opposition to the Great Mother; they aligned themselves with the function of consciousness and relegated the Great Mother to the realm of unconsciousness.

 

At the S level young children distinguish the father from the mother, work out a "gender dichotomy" based on the concept of "oppositeness" and the model of the parents as described above, and identify with one side or the other. 

 

The latest gender theory says that children's identification with one gender or the other is largely pushed on them by doctors, families, and society at large. And that may be true to some extent. But children are also quick learners at that age and tend to be very curious about biological sex differences as part of their exploration of the concept of "oppositeness" and the dichotomy between maternal and paternal. Sooner or later they become aware of the physical differences between themselves and the opposite biological sex, and they draw the appropriate conclusions.

 

A number of psychologists over the years have in fact suggested that children show a great degree of personal agency in identifying themselves with one biological sex or the other. And because the mother remains the primary caregiver, this choice tends to revolve around the child's relationship with the mother. The psychologists suggest that boys define themselves in opposition to the mother while girls define themselves in terms of similarity to their mother. This becomes the starting point of the gender dichotomy, where: 

  • Males define themselves in opposition to the Great Mother (who lives on in their unconscious) and flail about and strive to build a concept of masculinity separate from her and opposed to her; 

  • Females define themselves as similar to the Great Mother and can simply be/exist because they find themselves in harmony with their unconscious and live according to the cycles of nature and womanhood (menstruation, childbirth, nurturing, etc.)

 

In 1949 Erich Neumann said, "[F]ollowing a decisive point in his development, the male child experiences the mother as a "dissimilar thou" different from himself while the girl child experiences mother as a "similar thou" and not different..."[4]

 

Neumann spells this process out as follows: "The male child experiences this principle of opposition between Masculine and Feminine within the primal relationship to the mother, a relationship that must be surrendered if the male child is to come into his own and find his identity as a male. [...] But for the woman the primary relationship has a completely different significance and effect. [...] Even when she 'comes into her own' as woman, identity with her mother in the primal relationship can continue to exist to a great extent... [...] This means that a woman can continue in the primal relationship, expand in it, and come into her own without having to leave the circle of the maternal uroboros and the Great Mother. [...] This basic situation in which Self-discovery and the primal relationship correspond gives women the advantage of a natural wholeness and completeness from the beginning that men lack."[5]

 

(Neumann's last line, about men's lack of "natural wholeness and completeness" is echoed by Camille Paglia when she says, "Men know they are sexual exiles. They wander the earth seeking satisfaction, craving and despising, never content. There is nothing in that anguished motion for women to envy." See my supplemental essay entitled "Devaluation and Objectification" for more.)

 

Dr. Nancy Chodorow is a prominent feminist scholar, sociologist and psychoanalyst. Writing in 1978, she says that children of both sexes generally establish their gender identity by the time the child is around the age of three. Because the primary caregiver during a child's early years is the mother, a child's relationship with the mother is the formative influence. In much the same way that Neumann described, boys define themselves in opposition to the mother while girls define themselves in terms of similarity to their mother. However, Chodorow says that this process is initiated by the mother, who passes her own sense of the oppositeness or sameness of the sexes on to her infants as part of her nurturance: "[Chodorow] suggested that the mother's socialization of her children perpetuates traditional gender roles, making it difficult for society to move beyond these traditional divisions."[6]

 

In 1993, the feminist psychologist Carol Gilligan ties this same theme to the Care-versus-Autonomy dichotomy, thereby turning that personality dichotomy into a gender dichotomy at the S level. In her book In a Different Voice Gilligan says: "Consequently, relationships, and particularly issues of dependency, are experienced differently by women and men. For boys and men, separation and individuation are critically tied to gender identity since separation from the mother is essential for the development of masculinity. For girls and women, issues of femininity or feminine identity do not depend on the achievement of separation from the mother or on the progress of individuation. Since masculinity is defined through separation while femininity is defined through attachment, male gender identity is threatened by intimacy while female gender identity is threatened by separation."[7]

 

Additional gender dichotomies at the S level

In the section "Separation of the World Parents" I said that young children eventually distinguish the father from the mother and as a result they recognize the quality of "oppositeness." I quoted Neumann's point that "oppositeness" becomes a powerful tool for children trying to understand the world: "Gradually, with the growth of consciousness, things and places were organized into an abstract system and differentiated from one another. [...] Not only do day and night, back and front, upper and lower, inside and outside, I and You, male and female, grow out of this development of opposites and differentiate themselves from the original promiscuity, but opposites like 'sacred' and 'profane,' 'good' and 'evil' are now assigned their place in the world."[8]

 

The child's view of oppositeness as associated with gender spills over into the realm of dichotomies of all kinds. In The Fear of the Feminine Erich Neumann says, "In the history of humankind the differentiation of man and woman belongs among the earliest and most impressive projections of opposites, and early humankind took the male and the female as the prototype of opposites in general. For this reason every archetypal opposition easily assumes the symbolism of the Masculine and the Feminine..."[9] [My bolding]

 

For example, the collectivism-versus-individualism dichotomy quickly turns into a "gender dichotomy" at the S level. As I described in the section entitled "Great Mother Versus Great Father at the S Level," the makeup of early society promoted a structure segregated by biological sex:​

  • The matriarchal group represented a psychology of community, association, and collectivism reflecting community life huddled together in caves; and 

  • The patriarchal group represented a psychology of consciousness, differentiation, and attention to detail reflecting nomadic fighter groups engaging in roaming, hunting, and making war.

 

Naturally there are some collectivist and community elements inherent in men's societies, or men's societies would have no cohesion and couldn't exist at all. But the main lesson that men's societies teach children is individualism. In The Origins and History of Consciousness, Erich Neumann says, "It is true that the men's society also leads to a community life among the members, but this is braced by its individual character, the masculinity and accentuation of the ego. Consequently it favors the formation of the leader and hero type. Individualization, ego formation, and heroism belong to the very life of the male group and are in fact its expressions."[10]

 

In a similar manner, other conventional dichotomies come to be categorized in the minds of children according to gender, thus turning them into "gender dichotomies" as well. For example:

 

Unconscious versus consciousness: I have already described above how, at the S level, the unconscious becomes associated with the female and consciousness with the male. Similarly, the unconscious becomes associated with the collective and the outside world, while consciousness becomes associated with individualism and the inner world of ego.

 

In other words, the unconsciousness-versus-consciousness dichotomy becomes a synonym for the collectivism-versus-individualism dichotomy: 

 

  • Unconscious = Collective: In early society the females, nursing children and maintaining camps, lived in an environment of participation mystique immersed in the women's collective: They looked to the collective for guidance and solutions to problems; independent thought was unnecessary and even punishable by ostracism; and like the Great Mother, the collective tends to martyr those who become too enmeshed in it with its excessive demands.

  • Consciousness = Individualism: Male hunters, solitary or in small groups, had to use skills of differentiation and analysis to make their way through the hunt and the problems it inevitably presented. On the downside, consciousness/individualism can turn into navel-gazing solipsism or hubris and rebellion, leading to destruction by the Great Father. As Camille Paglia says in Sexual Personae, "Men know they are sexual exiles. They wander the earth seeking satisfaction, craving and despising, never content. There is nothing in that anguished motion for women to envy."[11] See my supplemental essay entitled "Devaluation and Objectification" for more on that subject.

 

Care versus Autonomy: In the chapter on Intuition I described the Care-versus-Autonomy dichotomy at some length; just above, I also noted that feminist psychologist Carol Gilligan saw the subject as a "gender dichotomy." In her book In a Different Voice, she says, "Since masculinity is defined through separation while femininity is defined through attachment, male gender identity is threatened by intimacy while female gender identity is threatened by separation. Thus males tend to have difficulty with relationships, while females tend to have problems with individuation."[12]

 

  • Men construe intimacy as potentially more dangerous than achievement: "The danger men describe in their stories of intimacy is a danger of entrapment or betrayal, being caught in a smothering relationship or humiliated by rejection and deceit."

  • Women perceive achievement as more threatening than intimacy: "[T]he danger women portray in their tales of achievement is a danger of isolation, a fear that in standing out or being set apart by success, they will be left alone."[13]

 

Extraversion versus Introversion: This is perhaps the most central and far-reaching of the "gender dichotomies" so far. It's certainly a staple in marriage-counseling circles. Communication style doesn't matter much when a relationship is going well. But under stress, communication style becomes a big stumbling block; and a stereotype exists in relationship counseling to the effect that women are more extraverted while men are more introverted.

 

John Gottman is a psychologist and respected researcher in the field of relationship counseling. He says that communication problems in relationships may arise from gender differences. In his book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work (published 1999) Gottman says that men are slower to recover from the stress of an argument than women. And once distressed, men tend to remain distressed for longer and think negative thoughts that keep them in a state of distress. Women, on the other hand, recover from distress more quickly: They self-soothe after a distressing incidence. 

 

Gottman says this probably goes back to early society, where men had to be hyper-vigilant for danger while women had to be nurturing. But the result in modern times is that women tend to raise sensitive issues with their partners (which may be characterized uncharitably as "nagging") while men tend to be conflict-avoidant and then stonewall when confronted. Men tend to get defensive quicker and carry grudges for longer, while women are casual about creating conflict and drama because they aren't as affected by it. Gottman says, "In 85 percent of heterosexual marriages, the stonewaller is the husband."[14]

 

This gender difference shows up in popular relationship books such as John Gray's Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. Grays says, "One of the biggest differences between men and women is how they cope with stress. Men become increasingly focused and withdrawn while women become increasingly overwhelmed and emotionally involved." The result: Men go to their caves to puzzle out solutions in peace and solitude, while women seek company in order to talk out their problems. "At these times, a man's needs for feeling good are different from a woman's. He feels better by solving problems while she feels better by talking about problems. Not understanding and accepting these differences creates unnecessary friction in our relationships."[15]

 

As I discussed above, gender isn't the same as biological sex; in other words, the Extraversion-versus-Introversion "gender dichotomy" represents a cultural stereotype and is not necessarily based in biological sex differences. But it aligns with other "gender dichotomies" like Care versus Autonomy and Collectivism versus Individualism (which both say that women are more "relational" while men are more individualistic), thereby creating a larger pattern of gender-related "oppositeness" that young children notice and explore.

 

Furthermore, as I said above, the Extraversion-versus-Introversion "gender dichotomy" has far-reaching consequences: As a result of the gender-based assignment of Extraversion to femininity and Introversion to masculinity, the extraverted forms of cognitive functions (Ne-Doms in the case of Intuition, Se-Doms in the case of Sensing, Fe-Doms in the case of Feeling, etc.) also tend to be seen as feminine; and the introverted forms of cognitive functions (Ni-Doms, Si-Doms, Fi-Doms, etc.) tend to be seen as masculine.

 

For example, at the N level: The Extraversion-versus-Introversion "gender dichotomy" aligns neatly with the Immersion-versus-Distancing dichotomy described in the chapter on Intuition: Ne Immersion matches up with female gender roles of collectivism and care, while Ni Distancing matches up with male roles of individuality and autonomy. Thus:

  • The Ne Son-lover and the Ne Maiden both embody willing immersion in the Great Mother and the world of the Feminine; and 

  • The Ni Struggler/Wanderer and the Ni Muse embody distancing away from the Great Mother and toward the Great Father and the world of the Masculine. (With development of the S-level concept of "oppositeness," flight away from the Great Mother tends to be back-projected as flight toward the Great Father.)

 

Subsequently, at the S level: The Extraversion-versus-Introversion "gender dichotomy" matches up neatly with the Sexuality-versus-Spirituality dichotomy described above. Great Mother sexuality is ecstatic, social, collectivist, etc.; Great Father spirituality is reflected in the teachings of Men's societies on individualism, asceticism, etc. (I will be describing additional Se-versus-Si dichotomies below, and I will associate them similarly with the Extraversion-versus-Introversion dichotomy.)

 

To sum up: Jung and Neumann tended to see personality traits as dichotomous in terms of gender roles. The child gains its understanding of gender roles at the S level, that is, viewed through the prism of differentiation and oppositeness. Neumann argued that gender is assigned not only to biological sex but also to personality traits: Men are expected to be more analytical, ascetic, individualistic, structured, etc.; women are expected to be more emotional, physical, collectivist, impulsive, etc. Neumann goes on to suggest that all personality dichotomies can be viewed through the lens of gender roles.

 

The child sees the "oppositeness" of the sexes in this manner, sorts out gender roles accordingly as he or she grows up, and the gender roles get passed down from one generation to the next.

 

Thus, the following dichotomies line up as gender dichotomies with the Feminine on the left and the Masculine on the right in each case:

 

Feminine versus Masculine

Extraversion versus Introversion

Unconscious versus Consciousness

Collectivism versus Individualism

Great Mother versus Great Father/Antagonist

Ne Son-lover & Maiden versus Ni Struggler & Muse

Ne Immersion versus Ni Distancing

Ne Care versus Ni Autonomy

Se Sexuality versus Si Spirituality

[...other S-level dichotomies to follow]

Gender Fluidity

As I said in my disclaimer above, gender doesn't necessarily equate to biological sex. There have always been men with rich poetic or sentimental sensibilities, and women who embodied masculine toughness and analysis.

 

The assignment of gender to individual personality traits suggests that there has always been a great tolerance for gender fluidity even in the most traditional societies. The average individual is a mix of male and female personality traits. For example: Extraversion is traditionally regarded as a feminine trait, and introversion as a male trait. But individuals of either biological sex can be extraverted or introverted: Men can be "strong, silent types" or boisterous and rowdy; women can be intensely social or intensely shy and retiring. The same goes for other dichotomous personality traits. Rarely is a man or woman comprised entirely of the personality traits traditionally assigned to their sex. Any individual will generally represent a mix of masculine and feminine personality traits.

 

In The Origin and History of Consciousness Erich Neumann provides a disclaimer of his own and says that the terms "masculine" and "feminine" are not used "as personal sex-linked characteristics, but as symbolic expressions. [...] In reality every individual is a psychological hybrid."[16]

 

In a reference to Jung, he adds that "Man and woman are psychologically bisexual since in the unconscious both have contra-sexual 'authorities,' the anima in the man and animus-figures in the woman."[17]

 

In early polytheistic patriarchal societies reflecting the S level, Neumann notes that there is personal and cultural experimentation with "androgynous and hermaphroditic figures of gods and priests, and cults emphasizing the original bisexuality of the uroboric Great Mother."[18]

 

The Greeks and Romans honored masculine women and effeminate men in certain settings: Travelers brought back tales of the female Amazons, who were rumored to be fearsome warriors; and male homosexuality was considered honorable and a way to advance in good society. Even the gods and goddesses practiced a degree of androgyny: For example, the goddesses Athena and Artemis were honored for their skills at the male pursuits of intellect, hunting, and warfare; and the male Dionysus, the dress-wearing god of drink and ecstasy, presided over the women's Eleusinian rites.

 

Camille Paglia's Sexual Personae is effectively an encyclopedia of culturally-tolerated gender-bending and androgyny across 5,000 or more years of Western culture. For example, Paglia speaks of the theater as a place where playful gender-switching was traditionally tolerated. She points out that Shakespeare's plays are filled with female characters disguising themselves by dressing as males and vice versa. Paglia goes on to speak of "androgynous volatility" in special categories of men as portrayed by Shakespeare: "Woman, boy, lunatic, lover, poet, fool: Shakespeare unites them emotionally and psychologically. They share the same fantastical quickness and variability. They are in moonlike psychic flux, which becomes manic-depressive instability in the frantic Mercutio*. As a poet, Shakespeare belongs to this invisible fraternity of mixed sex. Inwardly, he too is a mercurial androgyne."[19]

* [A character in Romeo and Juliet.]

 

Throughout history, gender has never corresponded directly with biological sex. Biological sex is a hard binary; by comparison, gender isn't a hard binary, and gender roles aren't a straitjacket. It is probably more accurate to say that the idea of gender reflected degrees of similarity to (or dissimilarity from) binary gender "ideals" that were rarely if ever achieved in real life.

 

Erich Neumann writes, "The archetypal symbolism of male and female is not biological and sociological, but psychological; in other words, it is possible for feminine people to be bearers of masculinity and vice versa. Always it is a question of relations, never of hard and fast definitions."[20]

 

One can also look at the influence of parenting. In following sections I will describe how men can have a "matriarchal orientation" and women can have a "patriarchal orientation," in other words, either sex can reflect a strong attachment to or affinity with a parent of either sex apart from any mix of their own personality traits.

 

So almost by definition, gender exists on a spectrum at the individual level. Even the most traditional societies in the past allowed for quite a great degree of deviation among individuals from a strict gender binary or imaginary "gender ideals" in everyday life. 

 

Persistence of the gender binary

Nonetheless, recognition of a gender binary remains a priority for S-level children, and this is mirrored in early societies. Psychologically, the concept of "oppositeness" and differentiation is central to the task of orienting oneself in the world, hence a force for maintaining a gendered world. And then physical differences favored splitting early societies into majority-male groups engaged in hunting and warfare versus majority-female groups raising children and maintaining campsites.

 

As I have described above, the development of exogamy and Men's societies resulted in devaluation of the opposite sex, which occurs on both sides of the gender divide. But with the concept of masculinity assigned to consciousness, culture, and spirituality, Men's societies moved to the forefront in matters of civilization-building. The feminine influence was suppressed and relegated to the unconscious as a distraction and largely plays a supportive role back home, maintaining families and playing a nurturing role.

 

This arrangement seemed to work well for all involved up into the modern age. Patriarchal societies built the great cities and civilizations of the Western world, providing shelter and security from the harsh vagaries of nature and the jungle. 

 

Later, with the onset of the Age of Enlightenment around 1715, science increasingly pushed the old patriarchal religions into the background and brought forward new technologies for the further development and comfort of humanity. Science was deemed a further refinement of the patriarchy and another vindication of the leadership of masculine consciousness. It lifted all ships, eventually bringing equal rights to previously oppressed sectors of society and providing labor-saving appliances to homemakers. Both genders appeared to benefit by patriarchal leadership in matters of civilization-building and the development of modern technology.

 

Patriarchy and the devaluation of the Feminine

However, the 20th century led to a re-examination of those assumptions. Jung and Neumann lived through the devastation of two world wars and the rise of Nazism in Germany and communism in the Soviet Union. They took away the lesson that patriarchy and technology had become too one-sided, leading to tyranny and man's wholesale enslavement by man. They explored subjects such as the harm done to women by relegating the feminine influence to second-class status, and the harm done to Western culture by erasing feminine values from the civilization-building process.

 

I mentioned above that as Men's societies elevate the masculine element and shoulder aside the feminine, there occurs a devaluation of the feminine. (See the section entitled "Great Mother Versus Great Father at the S Level" and the supplemental essay on Men's societies for more.)

 

In The Fear of the Feminine Erich Neumann says, "The patriarchal line of the development of consciousness leads to a condition where patriarchal-masculine values are dominant, values that are often conceived in direct opposition to those of the archetypal Feminine and of the unconscious."[21]

 

Neumann says that if women are to be included in the patriarchal culture, they must become an accomplice in the devaluation of the Feminine: "Although woman's consciousness differs in nature and emphasis from that of man, woman is forced into Self-alienation in the service of the development of consciousness. She is compelled to develop the masculine side, too, without which cultural achievement is not possible."[22] The result: "The negative effects of the patriarchate for the Feminine and for women constitute a vicious circle in which men (forcibly) limit women to the strictly feminine domain but thereby make it impossible for her to participate authentically in patriarchal culture and force her into a role where she is regarded as second-best and inferior."[23]

 

This situation infantilizes the woman: "[T]his attitude places the woman in a role in which the man must treat her as though she were an underage daughter. [...S]he surrenders the matriarchal consciousness unique to her as woman because it does not correspond to the patriarchal values or is opposed to them. Identification with the patriarchal values that she has not acquired through her own effort but only parroted leads to a slothfulness and crippling of consciousness that endangers woman's psychological development. She persists in a form of daughter-psychology under the protectorate of the patriarchy, a form in which the male carries the projection of the father archetype and the woman remains subordinate to him, infantile and daughterly."[24]

 

Neumann says that this process also harms the larger culture as well: The Feminine is excluded as countercultural, resulting in one-sidedness and immaturity in the dominant culture at large. The Feminine is demoted from the position of "goddess by whom the earth and the fertility of living things are sheltered to that as spouse who governs only the narrowest family circle."[25] Neumann sums the situation up as follows: "[T]he one-sided patriarchally masculine value-canon of occidental consciousness and the fundamental ignorance regarding the essentially different female and feminine psychology have contributed in a major way to the crisis of our time. Hence understanding the Feminine is an urgent necessity not only in order to understand the single individual but also to heal the collective."[26]

 

A more positive evaluation of the patriarchy

However, Neumann wrote that last passage in 1952, with the devastation of World War II fresh in his mind. And the nature of patriarchy has changed in modern times. A lot of Neumann's description is backward-looking: It probably represents a good description of patriarchy in very traditional societies soaked in religious fundamentalism. 

 

But more recent commentators say that traditional patriarchy simply represented an acknowledgement of the difficult facts of life in pre-modern times. 

 

In Free Women, Free Men feminist Camille Paglia says that more recent, extremist waves of feminism have seized upon the narrative of the victimhood of women under the patriarchy and used it as a cudgel against men. She says, "It was always the proper mission of feminism to attack and reconstruct the ossified social practices that had led to wide-ranging discrimination against women. But surely it was and is possible for a progressive reform movement to achieve that without stereotyping, belittling, or demonizing men. History must be seen clearly and fairly: obstructive traditions arose not from men's hatred or enslavement of women but from the natural division of labor that had developed over thousands of years during the agrarian period and that once immensely benefited and protected women, permitting them to remain at the hearth to care for helpless infants and children."[27]

 

In his book 12 Rules for Life Jordan B. Peterson takes a similar approach to the question. He suggests that patriarchy in pre-modern times represented a common-sense division of labor that served both sexes based on biology and the harsh facts of survival. "At least such things might be taken into account, before the assumption that men tyrannized women is accepted as a truism. It looks to me like the so-called oppression of the patriarchy was instead an imperfect collective attempt by men and women, stretching over millennia, to free each other from privation, disease and drudgery."[28]

 

Also, the masculine stranglehold on culture only reflects one aspect of life as a whole. As I said at the beginning of this section: "In other words, the Great Father's influence over identity and culture is largely at the conscious level and simply doesn't run as deep into the unconscious as the Great Mother's influence. So it is more accurate to say that the Great Mother and the Great Father have reached a state of parity: The Great Mother remains the queen of the unconscious even as the Great Father rules consciousness and culture."

 

Furthermore, devaluation of the opposite gender is a two-way street. In another context, Neumann says, "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. The juxtaposition of matriarchy and patriarchy as opposites also includes a mutual devaluation..."[29] In other words, patriarchal devaluation of the feminine is perhaps less a question of mean-spiritedness on the part of males and more about a balance of tensions that arise naturally between the sexes.

 

In addition, the household which is traditionally run by females is not a small or minor domain. In the US over the last few decades, consumer spending represents 60-70 percent of GDP, and women control or influence 85% of that amount. Furthermore, much of Western progress has been aimed at benefitting the consumer sector, the domain of women: Labor-saving appliances, entertainment, recreation, etc. So it's a stretch to say that women are captives of the patriarchy; certainly they have had a great deal of economic input in the framework of the modern world.

 

Finally, in modern times, policy-making has been working to smooth out gender differences in Western culture. Governments generally provide for equal rights and protections today, and in recent years women are outperforming men in various academic and professional domains to the degree that some say men are being left behind (see the book Of Boys and Men: Why the Modern Male Is Struggling by Richard Reeves, published 2022). Also, modern technology has considerably reduced the need for physical strength to do most jobs; women can now perform most of the jobs traditionally dominated by men.

 

As for the suggestion that the catastrophes of the 20th century are due to an imbalance between patriarchal and matriarchal influences, that's probably true to some extent. But it's equally true to say that the catastrophes of the 20th century are the result of a breakdown of patriarchal culture. Science increasingly pushed aside the old fundamentalist religious (patriarchal) worldview in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, allowing for greater diversity and personal freedom in Western culture. But diversity and freedom have both upsides and downsides; on the downside, they can lead to a lack of consensus in society. Under stress, a free and diverse society can break down into increasingly isolated communities contesting each other for scarce resources; at that point populist leaders and demagogues can play upon social divisions to unite disaffected citizens under the banners of extremist ideology promising "quick fixes." (Jung and Neumann talked about this process in the essay "The Undiscovered Self (Present and Future)" and Appendix II of The Origins and History of Consciousness, respectively.)

To sum up: One can legitimately debate whether pre-modern patriarchal cultures represented oppression of the matriarchy by the patriarchy or rather a simple division of labor and reasonable partnership. But in modern times Western culture seems to be embracing a more formal and deliberate balance of masculine and feminine influences. In light of the considerations listed above, this seems like an optimal course: When one side breaks down under the pressures of modernity, the other is present to support and sustain the prevailing culture against fragmentation and break-up.

 

"Gender as a social construct" versus "Gender as a binary"

A related subject is the debate about whether gender is a social construct or a natural binary. However, this blog is largely intended to be backward-looking or focused on the present (see my disclaimer, above). Questions of whether or not gender is a social construct give rise to a discussion of whether social engineering is either possible or desirable with regard to gender, and that is a forward-looking subject. So I will jot down a few thoughts of my own on that tricky subject in a separate supplemental essay: 

Link to supplemental essay: "Gender as a Social Construct" Versus "Gender as a Binary"

 

Centroversion for Sexuality versus Spirituality

In the Intuition chapter, in the section entitled "One-sidedness and Centroversion," I said that Centroversion is the mid-point between the two sides of a dichotomy where we are accessing two cognitive functions at the same time. When an extraverted function is conscious its introverted opposite is automatically unconscious, and vice versa. So centroversion means building a bridge between conscious and unconscious and sharing mental energy (libido) between both sides together.

 

So what represents centroversion for the Sexuality-versus-Spirituality dichotomy?

 

The dichotomy of Sexuality versus Spirituality is basically a cultural representation for the dichotomy of the Great Mother versus the Great Father, in other words, the Feminine influence versus the Masculine influence. If the Great Mother remains the queen of the unconscious while the Great Father rules consciousness and culture, then centroversion represents the union of the two, "a bridge between conscious and unconscious."

 

Marriage

So perhaps it is better to ask: What represents centroversion for the Feminine versus the Masculine? A quick, traditional answer would be marriage (or some equivalent long-term relationship status):

  • Traditional matrimony represents the union of girl and boy and their elevation to matriarchal and patriarchal status via sexual initiation, childbirth, and assumption of joint responsibility for a family and household.

  • Freudian psychology says that our adult attractions (or fears or hates) are due to unconscious personal associations dating back to childhood: Oedipal attractions and fears, etc. In Sexual Persona Camille Paglia says, "The ghost-ridden character of sex is implicit in Freud's brilliant theory of 'family romance.' We each have an incestuous constellation of sexual personae that we carry from childhood to the grave and that determines whom and how we love or hate. Every encounter with friend or foe, every clash with or submission to authority bears the perverse traces of family romance. Love is a crowded theater..."[30] In other words, we are attracted to partners that resemble an unconscious component within ourselves. Or as Jung puts it, men gain access to their unconscious anima and women gain access to their unconscious animus through their partners. Thus marriage serves the purpose of "a bridge between conscious and unconscious" to achieve centroversion.

  • Marriage may also serve as a position of centroversion for a number of other gender dichotomies. For example, in the section entitled "One-sidedness and Centroversion" in the Intuition chapter, I suggested that Interdependence was the centroverted position between Ne Care and Ni Autonomy. And certainly Interdependence is one of the themes of a successful marriage.

 

A dichotomous view of marriage also points to some features of marriage that make it different from friendship or family ties. For example, if marriage represents a joining of opposite sides of a dichotomy, then part of what attracts us to a spouse is unconscious. If so, then repression and projection are in the picture, and partners have a "sense of the numinous" about them (see the Intuition chapter, in the section entitled "One-sidedness and Centroversion" for a description of numinosity). From this one gets the romantic idealization of love in the form of "soulmates" or in the form of common assumptions such as "You complete me" or "I shouldn't have to tell you what I want; you should just know."

 

However, familiarity and routine tend to wear away the sense of the "numinous" from the relationship; and repression and projection then lead to problems communicating with a partner who may seem very different after a couple years together. 

 

At that point, good communication becomes the difference between the life and death of love. Traditional marriage counselors typically walk problem couples through workbooks and lessons on how to argue properly, use "I statements," and take time-outs. However, most experts admit the limited effectiveness of such tools. They aren't a panacea. Passive-aggressive behavior tends to be the norm for failing marriages, and communication tools can become one more way that competitive partners one-up each other, catch each other out in petty errors, and bludgeon each other.

 

Communication tools can be useful, but they need to be accompanied by a positive attitude about communication itself: There must be a real determination on both sides to communicate frequently and effectively. Due to the dichotomous nature of love, marital relationships can become minefields in terms of working out hidden agendas. So it's best to make an honest try to get both partners' agendas out on the table rather than blaming and shaming each other.

 

It is said that the point of centroversion between Passiveness and Aggressiveness is Assertiveness. But Assertiveness is more than just the practice of enunciating your own needs. It is also about negotiation, fairness, and hearing your partner's needs to such a degree that you can explain your partner's position better than your partner can (look up "steel-manning" for more on that idea). Assertiveness means clarifying and taking in the agendas of both partners and finding some way to reconcile them or at least live with them out in the open. Certainly there is a great deal of passive-aggressiveness in failing marriages; an embrace of Assertiveness on both sides should help with that problem.

 

The psychologist Jordan B. Peterson often talks about the need for very specific, clear, and detailed communication in relationships. For example, in one YouTube video Dr. Peterson suggests a type of mutual training on an ongoing basis: He says that if you want something from your partner, you have to tell your partner exactly what you want and exactly how they are to provide it; you can't just expect the other person to guess. Similarly, you have to get your partner to tell you what they want and how you are to provide it; otherwise, if your partner hits you with a lot of emotions and claims of entitlement to special treatment but no real instruction on how exactly you're expected to fulfill their needs, it's easy for you to check out of a relationship and give up. See this video by Dr. Peterson, between 00:45 and 2:45: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuqiSL3nDNg

 

Note that this "mutual training" process is separate and distinct from the process of "delegation," which is the assignment of tasks with maximum freedom to carry out the tasks according to the individual's best judgment. To compare the two: In "mutual training," the emphasis is on good communication and understanding; in "delegation," the emphasis is on division of labor for maximum efficiency and productivity.

 

And of course be positive, work with what's available, and give as much as you get. Good communication can also be a marker for determining when it's time to leave a relationship. If you are trying your best to communicate honestly and your partner isn't matching your efforts, then it may be time to end the relationship. See this video by Dr. Peterson, between 3:50 and 5:00: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95dmLhYZwSg

 

This emphasis on good communication may seem rather "unromantic," but it points at the central role of good communications in keeping a marriage viable. As I said above, a lot of this is due to the dichotomous nature of marriage. Dichotomous opposites can work together to achieve centroversion, or they can fight each other and turn the relationship into a battleground. Oppositeness, repression, and projection provide a sense of the numinous at the start but turn into obstacles later on. Communication makes all the difference.

 

The worst-case scenario in a marriage or other long-term relationship is one-sidedness. One-sidedness in a marriage or relationship means one partner moves to their own bivalent extreme, thereby attracting the daemonic of the other side in response. To work properly, centroversion requires both partners to lean in on their opposite half and embrace a new way of thinking.

 

Creativity and art

At the cultural level, the point of centroversion between Feminine versus Masculine (and Sexuality versus Spirituality) would be creativity and art.

 

There is a tradition to the effect that theater arose in ancient Greece from the union of the masculine "epic" and the feminine "lyric." The "epic" referred to the recitation of epic poetry: A lone poet stood before an audience and recited long poems from memory. As Wikipedia explains, "The first epics were products of preliterate societies and oral history poetic traditions. Oral tradition was used alongside written scriptures to communicate and facilitate the spread of culture."[31] An emphasis on instructive content and the preservation and spread of the cultural values of Men's societies put epic poetry in the realm of the Masculine. In contrast, the "lyric" element was said to descend from song and dance practiced in ecstatic religious rites associated with Great Mother fertility religions, which survived as "mystery religions" in Greece and Rome. 

 

Thus, early theater consisted of epic poetry interspersed with occasional breaks for song and dance. The singers and dancers eventually became the "chorus" that commented on the action of the epic; and in time the chorus turned into additional actors on the stage supporting the drama of the epic or lead actor.

 

Similarly, other psychologists describe creativity as a union of two opposing themes: the unconscious/feminine/fantasy interacting with consciousness/masculine/reality.

  • Sigmund Freud said that art reconciles fantasy and reality.[32]

  • Abraham Maslow said that there are two stages to creativity: An initial creative urge, which he characterizes as the Dionysian or "feminine" stage, and then the rigorous polishing of the final product, which he calls the Apollonian or "masculine" stage.[33]

  • Erich Neumann said that creativity is "a synthesis between consciousness and the creative unconscious."[34]

  • Jung said that creativity originates with weak functions and elements (memories, etc.) residing in the subconscious. Normally their level of libido (mental energy) is relatively low compared to that of the conscious functions and elements. But occasionally libido accrues to an unconscious element, which then rises to consciousness as a lucky hunch or illumination or symbol or fantasy.[35]

 

Erich Neumann agrees with Jung's description of the creative process and elaborates upon it. When libido (mental energy) is drawn away from consciousness and attaches to an unconscious element, one of three things can happen:

  1. Illness: The unconscious content continues to be repressed and kept out of the sight of the conscious ego; in other words, no connection is made between consciousness and the unconscious element. The ego suffers from the loss of libido (mental energy), the unconscious content becomes a disturbing factor, and the result is neurosis or worse.

  2. Creativity: In the creative individual, the unconscious content charged with libido works its way upward, combines with the consciousness, and expresses itself in creativity.

  3. Conscious realization: The ego notices a disturbance in the unconscious and reaches downward, perhaps via a means like free association, meditation, or self-inventory, to connect with the unconscious disturbance. The connection is experienced as a new realization or inspiration.[36]

 

The mechanism for "creativity" and "conscious realization" is the same: A bridge is built between consciousness and unconscious, permitting a synthesis of the two. But Neumann describes creativity as a process of unconscious contents bursting into the conscious mind unbidden, as though the artist were possessed by those contents; whereas conscious realization is more deliberate, a process of ruminating and striking upon a solution or novel approach.

 

For full quotations from source materials on these topics, see my supplemental essay: "Creativity," linked here:

Link to supplemental essay: Creativity

Androgyny

Given what I've said above concerning genders and then concerning marriage, it is reasonable to ask where the concept of "androgyny" comes in. Does it represent centroversion? Is it a creative space between the two sexes?

 

Camille Paglia is a professor at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and has written some excellent books on art history and criticism. Paglia has taken a special interest in androgyny. She is a lesbian and has considered herself transgender all her life, that is, a biological woman with a male brain. In fact her book Sexual Personae originally began as a dissertation at Yale on androgyny entitled Sexual Personae: The Androgyne in Literature and Art.[37]

 

Androgyny represents a mix of gender characteristics; to some extent we are all a bit androgynous insofar as we have a mix of both male and female elements in our personality and are only predominantly one gender or the other. Men can be sensitive and empathetic; women can be tough-minded and goal-focused. 

 

In her book Sexual Personae Paglia suggests that the more androgynous one becomes, the more androgyny begins to act as a nullification of sex. When androgyny is taken to the extreme, one encounters the androgyne. The androgyne represents the apotheosis of androgyny: that point where male and female genders are equally represented in one person.

Paglia describes some interesting traits of the androgyne. In the first place, she points out that the androgyne is a closed circle, self-contained. Androgynes have no need to seek their other half in marriage or in society at large; they are their own "other half." Paglia says, "Egoism is the androgyne's raison d'être. Self-complete beings need no one and nothing."[38]

 

That is not to say that androgynes are terrible people or have nothing to offer society. Paglia says, "Androgyny, which some feminists promote as a pacifist blueprint for sexual utopia, belongs to the contemplative rather than the actual life. It is the ancient prerogative of priests, shamans, and artists."[3] Priests, shamans, and artists can be valuable and prized innovators, a source of creativity and social renewal for society. Nonetheless, they themselves often aren't part of society. They often live at the fringes or on the outside of society. A society made up solely of priests, shamans, and artists would not be a society at all; it would be an atomized cloud of self-contained individuals bouncing off each other without connecting.

Also, the impression made by androgynes differs according to biological sex. For example: 

  • Female androgynes often benefit from androgyny in the public eye, where they are seen as beautiful, imperious, volatile women. Male focus and drive gives females added energy.

  • Male androgynes, on the other hand, seem to recede from society and collapse in upon themselves. They may appear asocial, self-complete, egoistic, and narcissistic. In society they may stand out as exotic and attractive but may not themselves be interested in partnering and engaging in sex.

 

Paglia has noted a trend in modern feminism in favor of erasing traditional gender roles and replacing them with androgyny, or even an agenda to promote androgyny as a fix for "toxic masculinity." Paglia says that this is a bad idea. Again, the androgyne represents the apotheosis of androgyny, and the androgyne isn't necessarily a healthy model for society as a whole. I don't want to get too far into gender and social policy here in the main essay; but I address the idea of the Androgyne at more length in a separate supplemental essay linked here:

Link to supplemental essay: The Androgyne

 

Of course, this enumeration of downsides to androgyny prompts another question: If the androgyne doesn't represent healthy centroversion between the sexes, then what does? The answer seems to lie in respecting and preserving some form of traditional ongoing tension between the genders, and finding balance in the resolution of those tensions.

As I discussed in the Intuition chapter, in the section entitled "One-sidedness and Centroversion": Challenges and stresses arise in life; this leads to increasing one-sidedness; this in turn leads to a clash with something or someone representing a Great Mother or Great Father figure. The clash is ultimately resolved via enantiodromia, that is, leaning in on a solution suggested by the daemonic of other "parent," and the restoration of balance in the center.

 

In other words, centroversion is earned by meeting challenges, resolving tension and strife, and gaining new problem-solving skills. Thus, merely putting on the clothes of the other sex isn't enough to warrant the title of "centroversion." And discarding gender altogether won't eliminate personality dichotomies and the conflicts and stresses that arise from them.

 

Children and young adults (and even mature adults) need guidance through life challenges. Traditional gender roles and gender narratives provided much of that guidance until recently. Often the guidance was in the form of a narrative about a "Hero's Journey" or "Hero fight" which served as the main template for most art and literature through the ages: Challenge, adversity, and success or failure. Nowadays, however, traditional gender roles are being discarded. That isn't necessarily a bad thing by itself. But modern society lacks a new consensus to replace the old, that is, it lacks a new commonly-held system of narratives or "Cultural canon" to provide guidance in times of conflict and stress. People are told what not to do, but it's not clear to them what they can or should do. And even when a model is provided (such as the "girl-boss" persona for women), it may not be suitable for everyone; a Cultural canon needs to provide a variety of personas that people can try on in order to see what works best for them personally. 

 

To sum up: In the absence of good guidance, that is, in the absence of a new Cultural canon supported by popular consensus to replace the old one that has been discarded, stress and conflict can cause people of both sexes to fold in on themselves, capitulate in the face of challenge, and withdraw from society. Unsure about gender roles, they turn away from the issue altogether and accept a solitary life ("self-completion") as their fate.

 

Similarly, the personal motivations that support the institution of marriage (finding your "other half," experiencing love as a "sense of the numinous," etc.) appear to arise from gender differences and tensions rather than gender sameness and self-completion. Gender differences have their downside in that they will increasingly stress the marital relationship over the years as the novelty wears off; on the other hand, gender sameness across the biological sexes may deter the formation of strong relationship bonds in the first place.

 

Obviously there isn't any quick fix for this situation. However, I want to stop here for the time being and dissect the traditional "Hero's Journey" below in order to show how it served as a template for adulthood by providing positive gender roles and models.

~Posted April 4, 2024

The Anima Fight and the Great Mother Fight

Anima&GMFight

Anima fight: Introduction

At the end of the section entitled "Great Mother Versus Great Father at the S Level," I said that the Great Father in the form of the patriarchy effectively shouldered aside the Great Mother at the S level.

However the boy's embrace of the Great Father, Men's societies, and Cultural canon doesn't spell the end of the child's involvement with the Great Mother. The Great Mother has been the boy's primary model for love and opposite-sex attraction throughout early childhood. As I said in the "Sexuality Versus Spirituality" section, The Great Mother remains the queen of the unconscious. With the approach of puberty the boy must wrest his burgeoning sexuality away from the Great Mother and find another outlet for it.

 

The Anima fight is a symbolic threshold or transition at puberty which is traditionally symbolized by a hero fighting a dragon in order to rescue a princess. Jung, Neumann, and Joseph Campbell regarded it as a component of a larger Hero or Dragon fight. But I want to separate out the Anima fight as a developmental phase. The Anima fight is also a component of the initiation of boys into Men's societies.

 

The psychological meaning of the Anima fight is as follows: The son remains in thrall to the Great Mother up to late childhood. With puberty and adolescence approaching, the son experiences an awakening of sexual interest in females; but the son recognizes that the Great Mother is an inappropriate target for sexual desire and thus must declare his independence from the Great Mother and find a new and different template for relating to females--one that allows for sex without incest. So the son separates out the Great Mother into the Terrible Mother and the Good Mother: The Terrible Mother is represented by a threatening dragon or other monster; the nurturing Good Mother becomes the princess who needs rescuing from the dragon. By rescuing the princess, the son fragments the Good Mother off from the Great Mother, who remains associated with the Terrible Mother. The rescued princess then becomes the boy's Anima, that is, an ideal of feminine love that is henceforth dissociated from the Great Mother and becomes a legitimate target of non-incestuous love. The Anima figure becomes the son's internal vision of a loving and appropriate life partner.

 

In The Origin and History of Consciousness Erich Neumann describes this process. He says, "What the hero kills is only the terrible side of the female, and this he does in order to set free the fruitful and joyous side with which she joins herself to him. This freeing of the positive feminine element and its separation from the terrifying image of the Great Mother mean the freeing of the captive and the slaying of the dragon in whose custody she languishes."[1]

 

Neumann says that the rescue of the captive princess exposes the male to his "anima-sister side." Thus the Anima is formed as an unconscious component within the male himself: "With the freeing of the anima from the power of the uroboric dragon, a feminine component is built into the structure of the hero’s personality. He is assigned his own feminine counterpart, essentially like himself, whether it be a real woman or his own soul. [...] A substantial part of the anima figure is formed through the fragmentation of the uroboric mother archetype and the introjection of its positive aspects."[2]

 

The male's assimilation of this portion of the unconscious results "in the formation of the anima as one authority within the personality." Thus, a feminine element "can be added to the masculine ego consciousness as 'my beloved' or 'my soul.'"[3] From there, the male can find his Anima reflected in women in the world at large.[4] This opens up the entire world of Eros: poetry, epic deeds, song, etc. "Great tracts of human culture, and not of art alone, spring from this interplay and counterplay of the sexes, or rather, of masculine and feminine. [...W]ith the liberation of the captive, a portion of the alien, hostile, feminine world of the unconscious enters into friendly alliance with the man's personality, if not actually with his consciousness."[5]

Anima fight: Dragon = Daemonic father

It's worth commenting on the role of the dragon as a phallic companion of the Great Mother in the Anima fight. The dragon is a "daemonic" or negative representation of the Great Father operating as a dangerous male companion who accompanies and assists the Terrible Mother in the Anima fight.

I previously described the appearance of repressed shadow functions in "daemonic" form in the Intuition chapter in the section entitled "One-sidedness and Centroversion." In essence, the daemonic Father is the repressed "shadow" of the psychological function represented by the Great Mother. If the Great Mother represents Ne, then the daemonic Father represents repressed Ni; if she is Se, then he is Si; and so on.

 

So let me stop here for a minute and recap the progression of the Great Father from his first appearance as the N-level Antagonist up to his manifestation as "daemonic father" in the S-level Anima fight:

Recapping the N level: In the chapter on Intuition I said that the father doesn't initially show up in the uroboric environment. The father is rather a negligible presence in the earliest life of most infants; the mother is the primary influence. If the father (or male influence in general) is represented at all, he shows up as phallic accessories on the Great Mother or as a dangerous animal companion.

 

At the S level: At the S level the child finally registers the father in his life. Like the Great Mother, the father can be split into a Good Father and a Terrible Father. Men's societies represent the Good Father; whereas the Terrible Father is fragmented off and repressed, to reappear in "daemonic" form as a dragon or other menacing male/phallic monster. The daemonic Father threatens punishment for the child's hidden Oedipal (incestuous) desires toward the mother. As Carl Jung describes it, "the monster to be overcome by the son frequently appears as a giant who guards the treasure. [...] He represents the father who [...] enforces the incest prohibition as a giant and dangerous animal."[6]

 

Erich Neumann analyzes the myth of Perseus in this light. Perseus is sent on a quest to kill Medusa, a female monster with phallic snakes as hair (hence a fitting Great Mother representative; see my description of Medusa in the "Intuition" chapter, in the section entitled "Great Mother versus Great Father at the N level"). On his way back home after the killing of Medusa, Perseus encounters a dragon holding the princess Andromeda captive; Perseus kills the dragon and rescues the princess.[7] Neumann says that the dragon is acting on the orders of the Terrible Father: "This monster has been sent by Poseidon, who is referred to as 'the Medusa's lover' and is, as ruler of the ocean, himself the monster. He is the Terrible Father, and since he is the Medusa's lover, he is clearly related to the Great Mother as her invincible phallic consort."[8]

 

Anima fight: Role of the Men's societies

All of this explains, to some extent, the importance of initiation ceremonies into the Men's societies as boys approach puberty. Quoting Neumann, I said above: 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.' This reinforces the correlation between heaven and masculinity.

 

In fact these initiation rites prepare the boy for the Anima fight. This "rebirth as children of the spirit" gives the boys the confidence to face the Great Mother and declare their independence. Erich Neumann says that initiation ceremonies into the Men's societies give boys a connection to the spiritual world, thus creating a divine patriarchal parentage that boys need to experience in order to take on the Anima fight against the Great Mother. These preparations also serve to dispel any lingering Oedipal tensions that might exist between the sons and fathers.

 

The idea of the Anima fight is to take on the dangerous Great Mother and "depotentiate" her (remove her "potency" or "defang" her by neutralizing her dangerous aggressive component) so that boys may properly form and integrate an internal Anima figure. Neumann says that the anti-feminine side of men's societies arises not due to mere resentment at matriarchal society but rather from men's need to emancipate themselves from the Great Mother.[9]

 

Anima fight: Resolution

As I said earlier: With puberty and adolescence approaching, the son experiences an awakening of sexual interest in females; but the son recognizes that the Great Mother is an inappropriate target for sexual desire and thus must declare his independence from the Great Mother and find a new and different template for relating to females--one that allows for sex without incest.

 

The son's aim is to emancipate his sexual drive from the power of the Great Mother. Victory over the Terrible Mother means steering the child's sexual drive away from the Great Mother and finding an appropriate replacement via the creation of the Anima. In the Perseus myth, when Perseus cuts off Medusa's head the winged horse Pegasus springs forth from her neck. Eric Neumann interprets this as the boy's sexual drive freed from the Great Mother. Neumann says, "What the winged horse symbolizes is the freeing of libido from the Great Mother and its soaring flight, in other words, its spiritualization."[10]

 

The Anima fight ends when the boy makes the transition from boyhood in thralldom to the Great Mother to adolescence under the influence of the Men's societies. Erich Neumann says, "the ego then advances to the phallic stage, where consciousness of one’s body and of oneself coincides with an aroused and actively desiring masculinity."[11]

 

For a little deeper dive on this subject, see the following supplemental essay:

Link to supplemental essay: The Anima Fight

Matriarchal orientation: Healthy variant

As described above, the Anima fight is undertaken by boys at the approach of puberty. In early societies, tribal ceremonies to induct boys into Men's societies facilitated a successful resolution of the Anima fight by teaching patriarchal Cultural canon concerning gender roles. (In another section I will describe a related "Animus fight" and the ceremonies that teach girls their own gender roles.)

 

However, the Anima fight and patriarchal Cultural canon aren't the final word on male gender roles. Even when a society prescribes rigid and uniform separation and delineation of gender roles, there is still a great deal of variation in how those roles are played out. As I said in the "Sexuality Versus Spirituality" section, there has always been a great tolerance for gender fluidity even in the most traditional societies. The average individual is a mix of male and female personality traits. Boys can be enthusiastic supporters of Men's societies and patriarchal Cultural canon while also exhibiting typically "feminine" qualities such as sensitivity, docility, passiveness, etc.

 

Neumann ascribes much of this variability in personal expression of gender to parental influence in childhood. For example, a boy can remain overly attached to his mother if the mother is a strong personality and the father is weak or absent entirely. Conversely, a too-strong father can also be a problem: "an overpowering, 'threatening' father impedes the child's progression toward him," while a weak mother doesn't provide enough security as a base for the child to jump off toward masculinity.[12]

 

Thus, alongside the more traditional male gender roles (authoritarian, spiritual, ascetic, etc.) there exist men who incorporate a "matriarchal orientation," such as rescuers of damsels in distress, Don Juan lovers, sensitive or effeminate men, artistic temperaments, men who never grow up and remain tied to their mother's apron-strings, etc.

 

In moderation, a "matriarchal orientation" is a healthy attitude. A focus on the Feminine influence is life-affirming, positive, and important in daily life. Males and females who are aligned with feminine attributes in moderation have a healthy outlook on life and benefit from the nurturing aspect of the Good Mother.

Matriarchal castration: One-sided variant (bivalence)

On the other hand, excessive association with the Feminine influence and the Great Mother can lead to trouble. Anything taken to extremes can turn into one-sidedness. As I said in the chapter on Intuition under the heading of One-Sidedness and Centroversion, one-sidedness represents a predicament where something healthy becomes so extreme that it turns into something that will kill you.

 

When matriarchal orientation is taken to the extreme of one-sidedness, it turns into unhealthy bivalence: Matriarchal castration. In the chapter on Intuition (in the section entitled "Son-Lover Versus Struggler") I said, But if pleasurable experiences are perceived as sexual, then unpleasant experiences are registered as deprivation of sexual excitement, in other words castration. [...] To fall under the sway of the Great Mother is to live one's life in a state of alternating matriarchal incest (pleasure) and matriarchal castration (frustration and pain).

Matriarchal orientation can turn into matriarchal castration and a struggle against the Great Mother at any time of life. The Good Mother turns into the Terrible Mother under conditions of stress, anxiety, and depression. And this can be a problem for both sexes.

Adults who excessively crave the Feminine influence in the form of "community, association, and collectivism" can become slaves to it or martyr themselves before it, like the Son-lover in service to the Terrible Mother at the N level. Alternatively, we can abuse that same Feminine influence through ignorance or spite, like a callous lover; but in doing so we risk incurring the wrath of the Terrible Mother who is always lurking in our unconscious. Resentment and hatred can ruin our lives.

We are captured by the Great Mother when we become possessed by an idea or a problem and can't find an easy fix for the situation. Ideas and narratives can captivate us and drive us to the point of madness or death. Emotional narratives are powerful: If someone cuts you off in morning traffic and nearly causes a traffic accident, should you chase after them in a fit of rage and exact vengeance for the alarm they caused you, or should you let it go and continue to work safely? 

 

In 12 Rules for Life, Dr. Jordan B. Peterson says that we become a battleground for ideas, and that we need to evaluate our ideas with regard to whether they might be leading us into a minefield or represent a lost cause. He says, "An idea is a personality, not a fact. When it manifests itself within a person, it has a strong proclivity to make of that person its avatar: to impel that person to act it out. Sometimes, that impulsion (possession is another word) can be so strong that the person will die, rather than allowing the idea to perish. This is, generally speaking, a bad decision..."[13]

 

Jungian psychology would consider this kind of "possession by an idea" to be a case of entrapment by the Great Mother, in other words "matriarchal castration." Examples of matriarchal castration could include:

  • Over-compliance with the demands of society to the point of becoming burnt out or martyring oneself in pursuit of a cause to gain the approval of others;

  • Getting caught up in strong emotion to the point of making foolish decisions (such as the example of a traffic confrontation, above); 

  • Restricting one's life due to fear, shame, grief, or anger resulting from a past trauma

  • And so on

Great Mother fights

Inevitably, one-sidedness leads to enantiodromia and a need to run in the opposite direction in order to achieve balance again. (See the "One-sidedness and Centroversion" section in the Intuition chapter for more on this.) But before that can happen, we need to engage in a Great Mother fight in order to free ourselves from matriarchal castration. In the course of the Great Mother fight we learn the lessons needed in order to find centroversion.

Great Mother fights can happen at any time in life and to both sexes. They can turn into a repetitive motif in the lives of men and women with a long-term matriarchal orientation. Thus, such conflicts represent a broader symbolic growth cycle occurring regularly over a lifetime (as opposed to the childhood Anima fight, which is associated specifically with the approach of puberty).

To sum it up: People with a long-term matriarchal orientation tend to see the world through a prism of feminine values and attributes. Over-emphasis of such values can cause such people to get pulled into stressful situations and conflicts over those values. Psychologically this is represented by "matriarchal castration" and entrapment by the Terrible Mother. At such times the task of the Hero (who can be of either sex) is to find a solution to the dilemma, fight his or her way free of the Terrible Mother's clutches, nullify the castration, and restore harmony and balance in his or her life via a return to centroversion.

 

Great Mother fight as a general story narrative

The Great Mother fight is basically a reworking of the Anima fight. But whereas the Anima fight represents a symbolic transition upon approaching puberty, the broader symbolism of the Great Mother fight can crop up at any time in life, including adulthood. The Terrible Mother remains alive and well in the unconscious, repressed, for one's entire lifetime.

 

From separation-individuation at the N-level to mid-life crises in middle age, the unconscious and its hidden contents (including the Terrible Mother) remain both a temptation and a threat at the same time. So Carl Jung described a broader metaphor (also derived from world mythology) for the ego's life-long propensity to regress back into captivity of the Great Mother in times of stress, anxiety, or depression: The "Night sea journey" or "Journey to Hades." These variations on the Great Mother Fight go as follows:

 

Great Mother fight: Matriarchal castration as a night sea journey

The Hero (the conscious ego) is dragged underwater and swallowed by a sea monster (the unconscious) and is taken on an undersea or night journey in the monster's belly. But the unconscious isn't only a trap for the unwary; it also holds the answers to life's dilemmas. Thus, the Hero takes out his knife, dismembers the monster from the inside, and is deposited at daybreak back on shore with a treasure rescued or stolen from the monster. Carl Jung says of the Hero: "He cuts off a portion of the viscera, the heart for instance, or some essential organ by virtue of which the monster lives (i.e., the valuable energy that activates the unconscious). […] In this manner the normal state of things is restored, since the unconscious, robbed of its energy, no longer occupies the dominant position."[14]

 

Again, this is basically a reworking of the earlier Anima fight and rescue of the princess. The travel underwater symbolizes a deep dive into the unconscious, representing the Great Mother and a return to the womb. And the treasure, for those who are successful in their battle against the Great Mother, is a prize that depends on the ego's needs: At puberty, it's a princess/Anima; at other times it's a solution to the problem that took them captive at the start. In the night sea journey, the prize is often symbolized by a hoard of gold that the phallic monster (the daemonic father) guards in its undersea lair.

By extension, the metaphor of the "night sea journey" is recognizable as a simple narrative structure or story arc. Wikipedia says that "a simple graphic narrative, such as in comics, has four stages:

  • an introduction of the characters and a description of a situation, 

  • the introduction of a problem, unexpected opportunity, or other complication into the situation, 

  • a resolution in the form of a partial or complete response to the problem by one or more of the characters, and 

  • the denouement, the aftermath of the response that makes clear the success, partial success, non-success, or uncertain success of the response. This fourth stage may also show how the original situation has changed due to what has taken place in the Complication and Resolution stages of the narrative."[15]

The Great Mother's role is the second step: "the introduction of a problem, unexpected opportunity, or other complication into the situation." The Resolution is the killing of the dragon and attainment of the treasure; the Denouement is the return to balance and normal life.

 

Thus the night sea journey becomes a metaphor for challenge, adversity, and success or failure. It can occur anytime that our environment evokes stress and anxiety, and it happens to both sexes because both sexes undergo a childhood process of fragmenting the Great Mother into her positive and negative sides (the Good Mother and the Terrible Mother) as part of individuation and the development of self-awareness separate from the Great Mother.

 

Great Mother fight: Matriarchal castration as a journey to Hades

A variation on the Night sea journey is a trip to Hades by a hero in order to learn a secret or to fetch a prize back from the underworld. Again, the symbology is the same: The Hero (conscious ego) journeys into the depths (the unconscious) to accomplish an errand (bring back a treasure/princess). This motif is a familiar one in Greek myths, where errands to visit the dead were a common occurrence. Examples: Orpheus attempting to rescue Eurydice, Psyche fetching a beauty potion for Aphrodite, and so on. (I will describe one such journey to Hades in a separate essay on Homer's Odyssey, linked later in this chapter.)

 

In The Great Mother Neumann says, "The underworld, the earth womb, as the perilous land of the dead through which the deceased must pass, either to be judged there and to arrive at a chthonic realm of salvation or doom, or to pass through this territory to a new and higher existence, is one of the archetypal symbols of the Terrible Mother. It is experienced in the archetypal nocturnal sea voyage of the sun or the hero, which the soul of the departed must withstand."[16]

 

Great Mother fight: Daemonic father as salvation

I previously described the daemonic father as a "daemonic" or negative representation of the Great Father operating as a dangerous male companion who accompanies and assists the Terrible Mother in the Anima fight.

 

Carl Jung says that leaning in on the daemonic father and embracing it is actually the route out of matriarchal castration. (See the explanation for this in the Intuition chapter under the section on One-sidedness and Centroversion.) For example, in the earlier Anima fight, the Terrible Father appears in daemonic form as the dragon or the monster guarding the princess or treasure. But the father also represents civilization and spirituality. By accepting the obligations and duties of Men's societies and facing up to the challenges of the Anima fight, the boy embraces growth, self-discipline, and manhood, which frees the ego from thralldom to the Terrible Mother. 

 

In short, matriarchal castration is defeated by embracing one's masculinity. In this manner the appearance of the daemonic father represents both threat and salvation. Salvation is achieved by leaning in on the daemonic father and embracing it instead of running from it. Hence Jung's admonitions to explore one's Shadow and learn from it.

 

At the cultural level, the S level represents an "heroic age" of the "predominance of the individual personality." Neumann says "The development of the conscious system, having as its center an ego which breaks away from the despotic role of the unconscious, is prefigured in the hero myth."[17]

 

For a little deeper dive on this subject, see the following supplemental essay:

Link to supplemental essay: The Great Mother Fight

 

Summary of the fight against the Great Mother

To sum up: There are two kinds of fights against the Great Mother: 

 

1) The Anima fight experienced by boys at puberty: It symbolizes sexual confrontation with the Great Mother with the goal of freeing the boy's sexual drive from matriarchal castration and converting the monstrous Terrible Mother into an Anima--a personal ideal for love.

 

2) The Great Mother fight experienced by males and females at all ages: The night sea journey or journey to Hades mirrors a dramatic narrative arc and becomes a psychological model for a dangerous form of "possession" by narratives or ideas. The Great Mother traps us with emotion, instinctuality, and unconsciousness leading to matriarchal castration. The Great Mother Fight involves a deep dive into the unconscious to learn how to free ourselves from possession by the Great Mother and matriarchal castration.

~Posted November 14, 2023

The Animus Fight and the Great Father Fight

Animus&GFFight

Animus fight at puberty

In the previous section I described the Anima fight: With the approach of puberty the boy must wrest his burgeoning sexuality away from the Great Mother and find another outlet for it.

 

In turn, the Animus fight fulfills largely the same function albeit with a focus on the Masculine influence. In young boys, formation of the Animus is largely a conscious affair that consists of the adoption of male gender roles via induction into the Men's society and indoctrination with the prevailing Cultural canon.

 

The son's initiation into Men's societies at puberty in early societies served to resolve the boys' Oedipal issues with the father, instill masculine values, and effect a union between boy and father. In The Hero with a Thousand Faces Joseph Campbell talks about how those initiation rites were ritualized Great Father fights, that is, a way to escort the son safely through his conflict with the father: "The mystagogue (father or father-substitute) is to entrust the symbols of office only to a son who has been effectually purged of all inappropriate infantile cathexes." Once initiated into the Men's society, the son is no longer a son; he has been reborn divine: "Ideally, the invested one has been divested of his mere humanity and is representative of an impersonal cosmic force. He is the twice-born: he has become himself the father."[1]

 

As for young girls: The onset of puberty involves fragmenting the Good Father off from the Terrible Father in order to "depotentiate" the latter and introject the former into their personality as an Animus, in much the same way that boys form an Anima (see above). As Carl Jung says, "Woman is compensated by a masculine element and therefore her unconscious has, so to speak, a masculine imprint. [...] The animus corresponds to the paternal Logos just as the anima corresponds to the maternal Eros [...] and in the same way that the anima gives relationship and relatedness to a man's consciousness, the animus gives to woman's consciousness a capacity for reflection, deliberation, and self-knowledge."[2]

 

In contrast to the spiritually-themed ceremonies to induct boys into Men's societies, Neumann notes that the parallel initiations of girls are often sexual in nature.[3] In the book Amor and Psyche, Neumann describes ancient fertility rites for girls at the age of puberty mirroring the myth of the rape of Persephone. Persephone was the daughter of the Great Mother fertility goddess Demeter, and Hades abducted Persephone to make her queen of the underworld.

 

Neumann calls it the "marriage of death." Neumann says, "In the profound experience of the feminine, the marriage of doom recounted in innumerable myths and tales, the maiden sacrificed to a monster, dragon, wizard, or evil spirit, is also a hieros gamos.* The character of rape that the event assumes for womanhood expresses the projection--typical of the matriarchal phase--of the hostile element upon the man."[4]

________

* "Divine marriage." See the entry "Hieros gamos" in Wikipedia.

 

EN says that a woman may well have had sex prior to marriage: "In primitive society there is often no question of a defloration, since an uninhibited and unaccented sexuality enters into the games of childhood." But for reasons related to "archetypal experience," the consummation of marriage was considered especially symbolic and involved lots of ritual. "In many places and at all times it has accordingly been abstracted from the context of private life and enacted as a rite."[5]

 

Thus marriage rites represent an initiation ceremony involving death and rebirth. Integration of the Animus in the form of "the marriage of death" means crossing the boundary from carefree childhood to womanhood, pregnancy, and the adult cares of maintaining a household. It represents a loss of childhood and at the same time a reconciliation and union with the Great Mother as the new bride takes on the responsibilities of adult female sexuality and motherhood.

Patriarchal orientation versus matriarchal orientation

Recapping matriarchal orientation: Concerning matriarchal orientation I said, Even when a society prescribes rigid and uniform separation and delineation of gender roles, there is still a great deal of variation in how those roles are played out. [...] Neumann ascribes much of this variability in personal expression of gender to parental influence in childhood.

 

Patriarchal orientation: The induction of boys into Men's societies and the teaching of Cultural canon occurs largely for the very purpose of instilling in young men a respect for the Masculine influence in life. 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.

 

By comparison, girls have a natural affinity for the Great Mother due to gender identification. However they are also surrounded by a patriarchal culture that promotes the Masculine influence as the model for success and advancement, so it's not unusual for young girls to pick up a patriarchal orientation when it matches the alignment of parental influences in their life (for example, a strong father figure and weak mother figure). The result is "tomboys" and women who excel in typically masculine fields of endeavor such as science and technology.

 

As I said in the case of matriarchal orientation: In moderation, a patriarchal orientation is a healthy attitude. A focus on the Masculine influence is life-affirming, positive, and important in daily life. Males and females who are aligned with masculine attributes in moderation have a healthy outlook on life and benefit from the civilizing aspect of the Good Father.

 

Great Father fight versus Great Mother fight

On the other hand, excessive association with the Masculine influence and the Great Father can lead to trouble. Patriarchal orientation can turn into a struggle against the Great Father at any time of life. The Good Father turns into the Terrible Father under conditions of stress, anxiety, and depression. And this can be a problem for both sexes.

 

I already described how the Great Mother fight was triggered when the ego is possessed by an excess of feminine influences: nature, instinctuality, collectivism, etc. By comparison, a Great Father fight is triggered when the ego is possessed by an excess of masculine influences: Civilization, spirituality, individualism, etc.

 

In The Origins and History of Consciousness, Erich Neumann describes the situation as follows: "[T]here is a Terrible Father who castrates the son by not letting him achieve self-fulfillment and victory. [...] He acts, as it were, like a spiritual system which, from beyond and above, captures and destroys the son's consciousness. This spiritual system appears as the binding force of the old law, the old religion, the old morality, the old order; as conscience, convention, tradition, or any other spiritual phenomenon that seizes hold of the son and obstructs his progress into the future."[6]

 

Neumann describes patriarchal castration as a type of possession, an excessive identification with spiritual ideals to the point of hubris and angering the heavenly gods or earthly spiritual authorities. Neumann says, "This leads to the possessed state of heavenly inflation, 'annihilation through the spirit.'"[7]

 

This becomes a psychological model for a dangerous form of "possession" by narratives or ideas. Jungian psychology would consider this kind of "possession by an idea" to be a case of entrapment by the Great Father, in other words "patriarchal castration." People with a long-term patriarchal orientation tend to see the world through a prism of masculine values and attributes. Over-emphasis of such values can cause such people to get pulled into stressful situations and conflicts over those values.

 

Great Father fight as a general story narrative

The Great Father fight operates much in the same manner that the Night sea journey or trip to Hades manifest themselves in the Great Mother fight. The Great Father fight can appear at many times during one's life and mirror a dramatic narrative arc.

 

The Great Father fight parallels much of the Great Mother fight, albeit with reverse symbolism:

  • Great Mother fight: In the Great Mother fight the anxious ego is drawn down by the Terrible Mother into the depths of the unconscious. There, in addition to the Terrible Mother, the ego may encounter the daemonic father (phallic snake or dragon) acting as consort or companion for the Terrible Mother. But often the daemonic father serves as salvation: To lean in on the daemonic father and accept the responsibilities of adult masculinity results in the slaying of the dragon and allows the ego to become a Hero and to fragment off from the Terrible Mother a princess and unite with her or carry off a treasure. 

  • Great Father fight: In the Great Father fight, the anxious ego often confronts the Terrible Father in deserts, elevated places, an idyllic "city on a hill," etc., in other words in locations representing the Great Father's association with the spiritual side of life or civilization. There, in addition to the Terrible Father, the ego may encounter the daemonic mother (a witch or seductress) acting as consort or companion for the Terrible Father. But often the daemonic mother serves as salvation: To lean in on the daemonic mother and accept the Feminine influence by embracing collectivism, community and change results in the conquering of the seductress and allows the ego to fragment off from the Terrible Father such qualities as leadership, spirituality, and civilization, unite with them, and become a Redeemer of society.

 

The object of the Great Father fight is to confront the Great Father by clashing with authority and rebelling against the existing Cultural canon, which has fallen out of date and become corrupted; and to redeem society by representing change and an updated form of authority and Cultural canon, thereby assuming leadership of society. This assumption of leadership represents a (re-)union with the Great Father, albeit with the father transformed into an updated form of leadership that represents the needs of a new generation.

 

An example of a Great Father fight would be the story of Jesus Christ's conflicts with the Pharisees and his redemption of humankind via martyrdom and reunion with God.

 

As a narrative arc, the Great Father fight becomes a metaphor for challenge, adversity, and success or failure. It can occur anytime that one's environment evokes stress and anxiety. It can happen to both sexes because both sexes undergo Separation of the World Parents and recognition of the oppositeness of the Great Mother and Great Father, followed by a process of fragmenting the Great Father into his positive and negative sides (the Good Father and the Terrible Father).

 

I have only provided a very brief description of the Great Father fight here to show its parallels with the Great Mother fight. For a more detailed breakdown of the Great Father fight into its various stages, see the supplemental essay on that subject:

Link to supplemental essay: Great Father Fight

Great Parent Fights in The Odyssey

In the section "The Anima Fight and the Great Mother Fight" I suggested that the Great Mother fight (and by extension, the Great Father fight as well) is recognizable as a simple narrative structure or story arc. Wikipedia says that "a simple graphic narrative, such as in comics, has four stages..."

 

Early myths were often teaching tools: A way to encapsulate and pass on life experiences via a story arc. Great Parent fights are often evident in such myths: A hero finds himself trapped in a dilemma, and gods and goddesses play the role of Great Mother or Great Father. Matriarchal or patriarchal castration are resolved by virtue of the hero's willingness to confront the monsters that beset him and learn from the confrontation.

 

So what do Great Parent fights look like in literature and myth? Homer's Odyssey is a good example.

 

At the very start of the action, the Trojan War has just ended. After 10 years of fighting, a coalition of Greek armies has finally captured the Turkish city of Troy, winning the war. But in the pillaging of Troy, a minor Greek officer rapes a priestess in a temple devoted to the goddess Athena. This is deemed sacrilege. The officer's commander is Odysseus, king of the Greek island of Ithaca. Odysseus wants to have the officer punished, but the victorious Greek forces are in a hurry to pack up their ships and return home after ten years of absence. So the matter is dropped.

 

The goddess Athena is incensed at the sacrilege committed in her temple and at the lack of punishment for the offender. So for the first half of The Odyssey she becomes a punishing Terrible Mother figure, responsible for drowning the guilty officer and blowing Odysseus and his ships off-course and causing them to wander helplessly for 10 years. The Great Mother fight is only resolved at the halfway point of the epic when Odysseus is prompted to journey to Hades to speak to the ghosts of Tiresias and Agamemnon.

 

But in his travels Odysseus also blunders into one of Poseidon's sons, the Cyclops Polyphemus, and blinds him. This infuriates Poseidon, the god of the sea, and kicks off a Great Father fight between Odysseus and Poseidon lasting through the second half of the epic. The Great Father fight is only resolved at the end with the slaughter of the suitors and a civil war for the throne of the kingdom of Ithaca.

 

See the Supplemental essay "Great Parent Fights in The Odyssey" (linked below), where I break down The Odyssey in greater detail into a Great Mother fight in the first half and a Great Father fight in the second half. I show how the two work together to further the hero's personal development and serve as "Cultural canon" for audiences in Homer's time. I expect that most readers won't be familiar with the plot of the epic poem, so I walk the reader through the main events of the story.

Link to supplemental essay: Great Parent Fights in The Odyssey

~Posted November 14, 2023

Extraverted Sensing Versus Introverted Sensing

SeVsSi

 

[Under construction: I expect to post more essays here in June-July 2024.]

References

Endnotes

Separation of the world parents

[1] Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness, trans. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XLII (Princeton University Press, 1954, First Princeton Classics edition, 2014), pp. 102-108.

[2] Joseph Campbell, The Hero With a Thousand Faces, Bollingen Series XVII (Bollingen Foundation Inc., 1949), pp. 231-247.

[3] Jordan B. Peterson, Maps of Meaning (Routledge, 1999), pp. 8, 111, and 122-123.

[4] Anthony Storr, The Essential Jung (Princeton University Press, 1983), p. 25.

[5] Jordan B. Peterson, Maps of Meaning (Routledge, 1999), pp. 287 and 290-1.

[6] Ibid., p. 287.

[7] Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness, trans. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XLII (Princeton University Press, 1954, First Princeton Classics edition, 2014), p. 121.

[8] Ibid., p. 103.

[9] Ibid., pp. 114-116.

[10] Ibid., pp. 116-117.

[11] Ibid., p. 402.

[12] Ibid., p. 315.

[13] Ibid., p. 42.

[14] Erich Neumann, The Great Mother, an Analysis of the Archetype, trans. R. Manheim, with a forward by M. Liebscher, Bollingen Series XLVII (Bollingen Foundation Inc., 1955), p. 28.

[15] Ibid., p. 34, footnote.

[16] Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness, trans. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XLII (Princeton University Press, 1954, First Princeton Classics edition, 2014), p. 325.

[17] Ibid., pp. 108-109.

[18] Ibid., p. 327.

[19] Ibid., p. 121.

[20] Ibid., p. 341.

 

Description of Sensing

[1] Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2011), p. 75.

[2] Ibid., p. 115.

[3] Ibid., p. 76.

[4] Ibid., p. 110.

[5] Ibid., p. 71.

[6] Ibid., p. 24.

[7] Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness, trans. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XLII (Princeton University Press, 1954, First Princeton Classics edition, 2014), p. 121.

[8] Anthony Storr, The Essential Jung (Princeton University Press, 1983), p. 293; excerpted from C.G. Jung, Mysterium Coniunctionis (The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Vol. 6), par. 662.

[9] Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2011), p. 114.

[10] Ibid., p. 140.

[11] Ibid., p. 200.

Great Mother versus Great Father at the S Level

[1] Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness, trans. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XLII (Princeton University Press, 1954, First Princeton Classics edition, 2014), p. 316.

[2] Ibid., p. 138.

[3] Ibid., p. 139.

[4] Ibid., p. 138.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid., p. 139.

[7] Ibid., pp. 140-141.

[8] Ibid., pp. 141-142.

[9] Ibid., p. 310.

[10] Ibid., p. 311.

[11] Ibid., p. 143.

[12] Ibid., pp. 172-173.

[13] Ibid., p. 365.

Sexuality versus Spirituality

[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), p. 193.

[2] Ibid., pp. 169-171.

[3] Camille Paglia, Sexual Personae, Art and Decadence From Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson (First Vintage Books Edition, 1991), p. 33.

[4] 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. 5.

[5] Ibid., pp. 6-10.

[6] Nancy Chodorow. (2024, February 29). In Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nancy_Chodorow

[7] Carol Gilligan, In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women's Development (Harvard University Press, 1982, 1993), p. 8.

[8] Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness, trans. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XLII (Princeton University Press, 1954, First Princeton Classics edition, 2014), pp. 108-109.

[9] 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. 6.

[10] Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness, trans. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XLII (Princeton University Press, 1954, First Princeton Classics edition, 2014), pp. 432-433.

[11] [3] Camille Paglia, Sexual Personae, Art and Decadence From Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson (First Vintage Books Edition, 1991), p. 19.

[12] Carol Gilligan, In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women's Development (Harvard University Press, 1982, 1993), p. 8.

[13] Ibid., p. 42.

[14] John M. Gottman, Ph.D., and Nan Silver, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work (Harmony Books, 1999, 2015), p. 42.

[15] John Gray, Ph.D., Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus (Harper, 2012), p. 25.

[16] Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness, trans. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XLII (Princeton University Press, 1954, First Princeton Classics edition, 2014), p. xxii, footnote.

[17] 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. 65, footnote.

[18] Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness, trans. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XLII (Princeton University Press, 1954, First Princeton Classics edition, 2014), p. 308.

[19] Camille Paglia, Sexual Personae, Art and Decadence From Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson (First Vintage Books Edition, 1991), pp. 207-208.

[20] Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness, trans. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XLII (Princeton University Press, 1954, First Princeton Classics edition, 2014), p. 434.

[21] 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. 28.

[22] Ibid., p. 26.

[23] Ibid., p. 34.

[24] Ibid., pp. 34-35.

[25] Ibid., p. 28.

[26] Ibid., p. xi.

[27] Camille Paglia, Free Women, Free Men: Sex, Gender, Feminism (Pantheon Books, 2017), pp. 223-224.

[28] Jordan B. Peterson, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos (Penguin Books, 2019), p. 304.

[29] 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. 266-267.

[30] Camille Paglia, Sexual Personae, Art and Decadence From Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson (First Vintage Books Edition, 1991), p. 4.

[31] Epic Poetry (2024, April 1). In Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epic_poetry

[32] Anthony Storr, Solitude: A Return to the Self (Free Press, 1988), p. 68; excerpted from Sigmund Freud, "Formulations on the Two Principles of Mental Functioning", Standard Edition, XII, p. 224.

[33] Abraham H. Maslow, Motivation and Personality, rev. Frager and Fadiman (Pearson Education, Inc., 1987), pp. 207-208.

[34] Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness, trans. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XLII (Princeton University Press, 1954, First Princeton Classics edition, 2014), p. 212.

[35] C.G. Jung, Psychological Types (The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Vol. 6), trans. H.G. Baynes, rev. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XX (Princeton University Press, 1971, First Princeton/Bollingen Paperback printing, 1976), p. 112.

[36] Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness, trans. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XLII (Princeton University Press, 1954, First Princeton Classics edition, 2014), pp. 342-343, text and footnote.

[37] Camille Paglia. (2024, March 17). In Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camille_Paglia

[38] Camille Paglia, Sexual Personae, Art and Decadence From Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson (First Vintage Books Edition, 1991), p. 441.

[39] Ibid., p. 21.

The Anima Fight and the Great Mother Fight

[1] Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness, trans. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XLII (Princeton University Press, 1954, First Princeton Classics edition, 2014), pp. 199-200.

[2] Ibid., p. 354.

[5] Ibid., p. 204.

[4] Ibid., p. 202.

[5] Ibid., p. 204.

[6] C.G. Jung, Symbols of Transformation (The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Vol. 5), trans. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XX (Princeton University Press, 1956), p. 261, par. 396.

[7] Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness, trans. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XLII (Princeton University Press, 1954, First Princeton Classics edition, 2014), pp. 213-219.

[8] Ibid., p. 216.

[9] Ibid., pp. 432-433.

[10] Ibid., p. 218.

[11] Ibid., p. 308.

[12] 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. 246-248.

[13] Jordan B. Peterson, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos (Penguin Books, 2019), p. 195.

[14] C.G. Jung, Two Essays on Analytical Psychology (The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Vol. 7), trans. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XX (Bollingen Foundation Inc., 1953), p. 99, par. 160.

[15] Story Structure. (2023, August 17). In Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Story_structure#Graphic_narrative

[16] Erich Neumann, The Great Mother, an Analysis of the Archetype, trans. R. Manheim, with a forward by M. Liebscher, Bollingen Series XLVII (Bollingen Foundation Inc., 1955), p. 157.

[17] Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness, trans. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XLII (Princeton University Press, 1954, First Princeton Classics edition, 2014), p. 161.

The Animus Fight and the Great Father Fight

[1] Joseph Campbell, The Hero With a Thousand Faces, Bollingen Series XVII (Bollingen Foundation Inc., 1949), pp. 115-116.

[2] Anthony Storr, The Essential Jung (Princeton University Press, 1994), pp. 111 and 113; excerpted from "The Syzygy: Anima and Animus" in C.G. Jung, Aion (The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Vol. 9 ii), pars. 29 and 33.

[3] Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness, trans. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XLII (Princeton University Press, 1954, First Princeton Classics edition, 2014), pp. 141-142.

[4] Erich Neumann, Amor and Psyche: The Psychic Development of the Feminine, trans. R. Manheim, Bollingen Series LIV (Bollingen Foundation Inc., 1956), p. 62.

[5] Ibid., pp. 63-64.

[6] Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness, trans. R.F.C. Hull, with a forward by C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series XLII (Princeton University Press, 1954, First Princeton Classics edition, 2014), pp. 186-187.

[7] Ibid., p. 187.

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