Analytical psychology and the Eastern psyche

In The Secret of the Golden Flower, the Chinese Taoist classic, Jung wrote, 'it must be mentioned that just as the human body shows a common anatomy above all racial differences, so too, does the psyche possess a common substratum. 1 have called the latter the collective unconscious’ (1931, para 88). According to Jung, human beings from different cultures have highly consistent inner worlds. The archetypes, the structures of the collective unconscious, are defined as being linked with instincts and also refer to a pattern of behaviour (CW18, para. 1228). It seems that the collective unconscious affects all peoples, irrespective of race and cultural difference. Further, a post-Jungian, Colman (2016), notes that behavioural and relational patterns included in archetypes have been revised by culture

(pp.49-51). Thus, studying archetypes is a valid, universal approach to understanding and working on the psyche in different cultural settings.

Nevertheless, differences do exist between the Western and Eastern psychological worlds. As Jung said, ‘Western man seems predominantly extraverted, Eastern man predominantly introverted’ (MDR, pp.348-349). To this, Clarke adds that, ‘the East’s emphasis on inwardness, self-awareness, self-analysis, was perhaps as one-sided as the West’s predominantly extraverted attitude’ (1994, p.72). Jung and Clarke assume that Eastern introversion and Western extraversion, typical human characteristics, are both crucial for the development of an individual’s psyche. However, these assertions in relation to the differences between East and West are divided and polarised and are not unproblematic. The difference between the East and West, and the validity of using Jungian and post-Jungian perspectives to understand issues arising from different contexts, in this case China, will be discussed in Chapter 4.

The importance of Jungian ideas has been increasing since the 1990s in China. The prevalence of such ideas and their growing influence in China merit, in part, the utility and application of a Western psychological lens to explore Eastern phenomena. However, how to use these Western concepts in non-Western contexts raises an important question, and what modifications must be made requires more discussion and research. These concerns have led to my own research - exploring the archetypal feminine and masculine in intimate realms in China through Jungian and post-Jungian lenses.

Femininity and masculinity in intimate relationships

According to Jung, feminine and masculine aspects are opposite yet equally important elements of the human psyche. He referred to the archetypal feminine in males as the anima, and the archetypal masculine in females as the animus (CW7, para. 296-340). They each have different psychological functions. Usually, ‘the archetypal feminine is the province of relating and care giving [ ... ] [it] concerns joining, attachment and involvement’ (Young-Eisendrath, 1984, p.12). It carries ‘nurturing, vulnerable and care taking qualities’ (Zweig & Wolf. 1997, p.26). The basic feature of the archetypal feminine is always considered to be involved with, and connected to, others. However, this description has over-emphasised the positive functions of feminine archetypes in contributing to human relationships and has assigned the possibility of relations between humans solely to the feminine province; consequently, it does not provide a whole picture of either femininity or of human relationships. If we explore archetypal images in a different setting, female images carry different characteristics and consequently have different functions. Even so, I admit that such images are not only an inner aspect of ourselves, but also contribute to the base of our relationships. Studying feminine images helps us to understand the intrapsychic structure, and further, to understand interpersonal relationships. In sum, these images play a crucial role in structuring the 'inter-subjective space’3 in intimate relationships.

From a classical Jungian perspective, the archetypal feminine plays an important role in a man’s development. (Jung depicted the integration of anima/animus as the bridge to the Self.) As von Franz argues, ‘if a single man or if a whole civilization loses contact with the feminine element, that usually implies a too rational, too ordered, too organized attitude’ (1970b, p.70). On the other hand, ‘if a man neglects relatedness, she (his anima) at once regresses’ (1970b, p.89). It is said that the feminine element works on a man's emotional and irrational life and is expressed in intimate relationships while his relatedness in turn affects his archetypal feminine. When he fails to connect internally with his femininity, it will harm his external relationships. However, there is no mention of women’s femininity in the work of classical Jungians, implying that, for them, women’s femininity is obvious and a woman must be born with knowledge thereof; hence, there is no need to explore it further. However, this is not the case.

As the post-Jungian scholar, Samuels, argues, ‘[w]omen and men also express an unconscious femininity and masculinity respectively’ (1985b, p.215). The feminine archetype (the anima) is carried by both men and women. When 1 identify the importance of femininity in the clinical field, the couple therapist Young-Eisendrath emphasises the importance of ‘understanding the repressed feminine’4 in both men and women (1984, pp.91-100). A woman is not born familiar with feminine qualities; she also needs to learn how to relate to her archetypal feminine. Conflicts between women and their archetypal feminine also cause intimacy problems and produce psychological symptoms. Becoming more conscious of the feminine aspects of oneself is important and helpful for both men and women in clinical work.

Alternatively, when we refer to the archetypal masculine, Young-Eisendrath noted that Jung has a rather negative attitude to the woman’s animus, emphasising the effects of ‘a badly flawed masculinity’ and highlighting that ‘the strength of the animus ... was often overshadowed by its weakness’. Young-Eisendrath critiques this statement as essentialist and says that, among the first generation of Jungians, ‘theorizing of anima and animus had all the problems of sexual stereotyping’ (1998, pp.202-203). For example, according to von Franz, ‘man in his primitive capacity as hunter and warrior is accustomed to kill', and the animus ‘shares this propensity’ (von Franz, 1970b/1996, p. 169). From the perspective of classical Jungians, the archetypal masculine includes shadow, flaws, aggression, etc. and all these negative aspects are damaging to relationships. Positive animus perspectives are mentioned far less often than the negative animus experience, which was entangled with the unconscious tendency toward male chauvinism and stereotyping. Post-Jungians thus criticised the essen-tialist assignment of femininity and masculinity but share almost an identical attitude in relation to the archetypal masculine, which is held by both men and women, as ‘the domain of distancing and separating’, and characterised as ‘binding off, separating from, and aggression toward nature and human beings’ (Young-Eisendrath, 1984, p. 12). Giegerich noted that the animus ‘changes the direction’ of marriage ‘in a logically different status’. Both the man and woman in the marriage become inaccessible to each other; they are disconnected (2008, p. 120). Based on these descriptions and assertions, the masculine has little to do with intimate relationships and when it is involved, there are negative effects. Completely contrary to the archetypal feminine, the archetypal masculine harms and destroys intimacy and marriage. However, these assertions are based on the divided and binary positions of masculinity and femininity that are rooted in Western culture and need to be expanded.

For example, one can question the extent to which it is possible to distinguish between psychological femininity and masculinity. Are their effects on intimate relationships different and contrary? Samuels states that ‘anima and animus have certain characteristics in common’ (1986, p.23) and they might also share common functions in relationships. According to Samuels, both men and women possess an anima and animus and, as Waddell points out, they ‘offer the possibility for personal and culture gender expansion’ (2006, p.161). Therefore, anima and animus might be better understood as comprising gender possibility and potential, not necessarily as carrying certain characteristics and facilitating certain functions. It seems unwise to define femininity and masculinity in a split and opposite way: The lines that separate the two are more fluid and permeable than Jung originally hypothesised. This topic will be discussed further in Chapter 2.

Moreover, Young-Eisendrath points out that ‘gender varies from context, both between groups and within individuals over time’ (1998, p.203). If this is the case, in different cultures and times, the contents and functions of the feminine and masculine would change; the images of anima and animus depend on one’s environment, culture and historical context and their effects on intimate relationships might be interchangeable. In China in particular, due to the political and historical factors, the contents of femininity and masculinity are very complicated and ambivalent, as 1 will illustrate in the following chapters.

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