A Theory In The Symbolic Unconscious


In my attempt to unravel the mysteries that surround my existence and presence here in this reality we call planet Earth, I decided to post an interrogatory to my readers, “Have you ever dreamed of a person you were attracted to, but never met them during your waking life, or you were unaware as to their identity and unable to distinguish them with any particular certainty as to who their character was?” Dream analysis suggests these individuals represented in dreams are your symbolic “soul mates” or “gender opposites.” The two theories which discuss the idea of a “soul mate,” which is, of course, a person with whom one shares a deep empathy in terms of disposition point-of-view, or sensitivity; are Twinship and Anima. Although the encounter with this symbolic image in dreams is more of a representation of “successful apprenticeship” in an individual’s personal development and creative successes than of an actual meeting of a “soul mate” in and of itself, the concept is rather interesting to entertain since Lucy Holmes put forth that in all the patients she worked with, all possessed an internalized triangulation of “mother”, “father”, and “self” within her patients’ psyches. Both theories share a common root though, the turn to our creative ego function, specifically the gender opposite, to secure a sense of self-cohesion when confidence needs bolstering. It is a completely normal experience and one that drives the preservation of self identity. I had one of these dreams during my college years. Here are the philosophical differences.

Twinship (Freudian)


Twinship or alter ego transference occurring in waking life. Kohut (1971) originally identified this self object function as a manifestation of mirroring. Twinship represents normal developmental striving. Kohut (1984) characterized it as a longing for an intimate experience in which a self object is perceived as a faithful replica of oneself, capable of matching one’s psychological states as if self and self object were one and the same. It is not a merger, in which the sense of an autonomous self is submerged, although in archaic forms it may manifest in this way. More typically, twinship self object needs spur people to turn to their self objects and experience them as a part of the self. It operates as a silent presence to keep one company when self-cohesion requires bolstering. Corresponding in some ways to the colloquial term “soul mate,” the twinship self object function refers to the experience of a companionate presence that feels and thinks just like oneself. It is akin to the feeling of special connection with someone who uncannily finishes one’s sentences, although this sense of connection goes far deeper to sustain self-cohesion when the self is experienced as being devitalized.

Anima and Animus (Jungian)

copy-and-pasteIn the psychology of Carl Jung, the masculine or feminine inner personality of their respective objects in the unconscious of the mind. It is the symbolic representation of archetypes in dreams and it is your opposite or counterpart. For example, in the unconscious of a man, this archetype finds expression as a feminine inner personality: anima; equivalently, in the unconscious of a woman it is expressed as a masculine inner personality: animus. The anima and animus can be identified as the totality of the unconscious feminine psychological qualities that a man possesses or the masculine ones possessed by a woman, respectively.

Because a male’s sensitivity is often lesser or repressed, the anima is one of the most significant autonomous complexes of all. It is said to manifest itself by appearing in dreams. It also influences a man’s interactions with women and his attitudes toward them and vice versa for women and the animus. Jung said that “the encounter with the shadow is the “apprentice-piece’ in the individual’s development….that the anima is the ‘masterpiece.’ Jung viewed the anima process as being one of the sources of creative ability. In the book “The Invisible Partners” it is said that the key to controlling one’s anima/animus is to recognize it when it manifests and exercise our ability to discern the anima/animus from reality.



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