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Hypermasculine Sexual Behavior and the Fear of the Feminine

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Hypermasculine Sexual Behavior and the Fear of the Feminine
by
Aaron Oravetz
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements
for the degree of
Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology
Pacifica Graduate Institute
20 February 2016
ProQuest Number: 10104084
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© 2016 Aaron Oravetz
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I certify that I have read this paper and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable
standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a
product for the degree of Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology.
____________________________________
Angela Mohan, M.A., L.M.F.T.
Portfolio Thesis Advisor
On behalf of the thesis committee, I accept this paper as partial fulfillment of the
requirements for Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology.
____________________________________
Avrom Altman, M.A., L.M.F.T., L.P.C.
Research Associate
On behalf of the Counseling Psychology program, I accept this paper as partial
fulfillment of the requirements for Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology.
____________________________________
Jemma Elliot, M.A., L.M.F.T., L.P.C.C.
Director of Research
iv
Abstract
Hypermasculine Sexual Behavior and the Fear of the Feminine
by Aaron Oravetz
This thesis examines the relationship between hypermasculine sexual behavior and a fear
of the archetypal Feminine. Using hermeneutic methodology, hypermasculine sexual
behavior, such as the sexual objectification of women and treating sex as a conquest, is
explored in relation to classical Jungian psychological concepts such as complexes and
the anima. The psychological development of a male around sexuality and gender is
addressed in relation to hypermasculine sexual behavior. Hypermasculine thoughts,
feelings, and actions regarding women are examined as responses to a fear of the
archetypal Feminine and its projection onto females. A psychological understanding of
the motivations behind hypermasculine sexual behavior may assist hypermasculine
clients and the clinicians who provide treatment to them.
v
Acknowledgments
This thesis would not have come to fruition without the assistance and support of
my thesis adviser and Pacifica Graduate Institute professor Angela Mohan. I would also
like to thank Barbara Boyd, also a professor at Pacifica Graduate Institute, for her
guidance. I have sincere gratitude for my editor Rebecca Pottenger and the help she has
given me along the way. Finally, I would not have been able to complete this process
without the love and support of Rachel and Cypress Couch.
vi
Table of Contents
Chapter I
Introduction ..................................................................................................1
Area of Interest ........................................................................................................1
Guiding Purpose.......................................................................................................1
Rationale ..................................................................................................................3
Methodology ............................................................................................................3
Research Problem ........................................................................................3
Research Question .......................................................................................4
Methodological Approach ...........................................................................4
Ethical Considerations .............................................................................................4
Overview of Thesis ..................................................................................................5
Chapter II
Literature Review.........................................................................................6
Introduction ..............................................................................................................6
The Masculine and Feminine Principles ..................................................................6
Hypermasculinity: A Caricature of Masculinity ......................................................7
Hypermasculine Behavior as a Natural Development .............................................9
Masculinity and Status ...........................................................................................10
A Multidimensional Approach to Studying Hypermasculinity .............................11
Subscribing to a Hypermasculine Sexual Behavior ...............................................12
The Complex..........................................................................................................13
The Mother of all Complexes ................................................................................15
Fear of the Feminine ..............................................................................................16
The Anima .............................................................................................................17
Anima Development ..............................................................................................19
The Anima’s Relation to Sexuality ........................................................................20
Conclusion and Prelude to Chapter III...................................................................21
Chapter III
Findings and Clinical Applications............................................................22
Introduction ............................................................................................................22
Hypermasculine Sexual Behavior as a Dimension Explored
This Thesis .................................................................................................23
Masculine and Feminine: Not Male and Female .......................................23
Connection or Differentiation ................................................................................24
Failure to Give Up Heroic Masculinity .................................................................26
The Anima and Male Psychological Development ...............................................27
Devaluing the Feminine as a Response to Fear .....................................................30
Sexual Objectification of Women ..........................................................................32
Sex as Conquest .....................................................................................................34
Overcompensation and the Fear of Feminine Sexuality ........................................35
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Phallic Narcissism..................................................................................................37
Conclusion and Clinical Application .....................................................................38
Chapter IV
Summary and Conclusions ........................................................................40
Summary ................................................................................................................40
Conclusions ............................................................................................................42
Contribution of the Research to the Field of Psychology ......................................43
Avenues for Further Research ...............................................................................44
References ..........................................................................................................................45
Chapter I
Introduction
Area of Interest
This thesis is an examination of an aspect of hypermasculine behavior that
involves sexuality and gender. I use the term hypermasculine sexual behavior to describe
a dimension of hypermasculinity that focuses on attitudes toward sex and beliefs about
gender. Colloquially, my research examines the way some men talk about females when
women are not present. This thesis explores the psychological dynamics that relate to
hypermasculine sexual behavior. For the purpose of this thesis, such behavior includes
the sexual objectification of women, treating sex as a conquest, bragging about sexual
encounters, making crude jokes about sex and females, and the devaluation of femininity.
Guiding Purpose
The guiding purpose of this thesis is to bring awareness to the psychological
dynamics behind hypermasculine sexual behavior. Men who engage in hypermasculine
sexual behavior are the victims of their own behavior: Treating sex as a conquest and
consistently devaluing femininity prevents them from engaging with half of the
population in a mature, complementary way. In this way, men who engage in
hypermasculine sexual behavior place themselves in a bubble of thought and belief,
isolated from women and men who perceive value in relationships with females.
As a male, research for this thesis was an important part of understanding my own
psychological development and concept of masculinity. Akin to most men, I have felt a
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pull toward proudly identifying as a masculine male and, with other men I have known,
have felt shame implicitly cast upon me when I appeared to identify with anything other
than staunch masculinity. The process of writing this thesis has allowed me a more
complete understanding of both masculinity and femininity while shedding light upon
hypermasculine sexual behavior.
I have known women who struggle in relationships with men who engage in
hypermasculine sexual behavior and have known men who feel conflicted about
engaging in such behavior. I have also known men who engage in hypermasculine sexual
behavior even though they also express frustration around a lack of connection to others
in their lives. My hope is that this thesis will assist in clarifying the roots of
hypermasculine sexual behavior in order to make people more mindful of the
implications of such behavior with regard to individuals and society.
As a clinician, I am privy to the private thoughts and feelings of many men and
have experienced how a man’s identity is tied to his concept of masculinity. I hope that
this thesis presents clinicians with a deeper understanding of how the concept of
masculinity develops on both an individual and societal level. For clinicians who are
baffled by clients who exhibit hypermasculine sexual behavior, I hope this thesis
provides an impetus toward empathy for these men, as well as understanding the behavior
and its place in psychological development. Because the field of therapy traditionally
opposes hypermasculine identity as grandiose and unhealthy, it may be difficult for a
male who engages in hypermasculine sexual behavior to find a therapist who is willing
and able to work past biases toward progress. Hypermasculine men may be resistant to
change in a clinical setting and my hope is that clinicians will be able to create a
3
therapeutic alliance toward progress if they are able to empathize with these men and
have an understanding of the psychology behind their hypermasculinity.
Rationale
Addressing the problem of hypermasculinity is crucial to individual and social
wellbeing. Psychologists Charles Corprew III, Jamaal Matthews, and Avery Mitchell
(2014) noted the link between hypermasculinity and behaviors that are detrimental to
society, including aggression toward females, aggression toward men who reject a
hypermasculine doctrine, dangerous sexual behavior, drug abuse, and depression
(p. 106). An examination of psychic content relating to sex and gender may therefore
provide more of an understanding of hypermasculine behavior regarding sex, women,
and femininity. My hope is that men, whose hypermasculinity has prevented them from
entering into complementary instead of dominance-based relationships with others, can
be offered psychotherapeutic help in healing the underlying dynamics of their behaviors.
Methodology
Research problem and questions. This thesis examines how hypermasculine
men relate to the challenges of psychological maturation that all men face, including the
task of integrating the feminine principle (defined in Chapter II). It explores the reasons
some men develop an identity that exclusively engages in hypermasculine sexual
behavior and some do not. The research question driving this thesis is: In what way is
hypermasculine sexual behavior related to a fear of the feminine principle? This question
is explored in addressing the following related queries: How do men develop a
relationship to the feminine principle? What causes men to identify so strongly with the
masculine principle that they exhibit a hypermasculine persona? What aspects of the
4
psyche are related to hypermasculine sexual behavior and how do they function? What is
behind attempts to devalue women and the feminine principle?
Methodological approach. Through the use of hermeneutic methodology, the
thesis examines and draws relationships between concepts from theory on the nature of
the psyche and psychological development, research on sexuality and identity, and
literature that views the subject from a sociocultural perspective. In order to properly
examine such relationships, a text must be fully comprehended. Humanistic psychologist
Clark Moustakas (1994) stated that “hermeneutic analysis is required in order to derive a
correct understanding of the text” (p. 9). According to Moustakas, hermeneutics leads a
researcher to correct understanding by leaving bias behind and examining the true
meaning in texts. “In the hermeneutic circle, our prejudgments are corrected in view of
the text, the understanding of which leads to new prejudgments” (p. 10). Thus, a
hermeneutic approach involves the search for meaning in and between texts while
correcting biases through examining and understanding evidence.
This thesis examines examples and instances of hypermasculine sexual behavior
as well as psychological concepts related to sexuality and gender. Hermeneutics suggests
that there is something behind patterns in behavior and that this pattern may be
understood better through research of related topics (Moustakas, 1994). A hermeneutic
approach assists in identifying related concepts and motivation for behavior, even if
unconscious.
Ethical Considerations
A hermeneutic approach is only ethical if a research review is thorough enough to
create a correct understanding. Although a hermeneutic approach lends itself to disprove
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prejudgments, it is always possible that a researcher is convinced that no prejudgments
exist as he or she enters research. In such cases, biases likely remain throughout the
process without being filtered by a hermeneutic methodology. A researcher’s
mindfulness of his or her prejudgments is therefore an ethical consideration when
conducting hermeneutic research. The research in this thesis is concerned with, reflective
of, and responsive to the U.S. Western cultural milieu. Moreover, the research has been
conducted from a male perspective. Thus, the findings inherently are limited in scope and
intended to contribute to rather than circumscribe an understanding of hypermasculinity.
This thesis addresses hypermasculinity as an expression of the culturally instilled
polarity between masculine/male and feminine/female. In doing so, it recognizes that
masculine and feminine are nongender-specific qualities within each individual’s psyche
and that culture has created gender-specific associations for them.
Overview of Thesis
Chapter II of this thesis includes a definition of the feminine and masculine
principles and hypermasculine sexual behavior as a dimension of hypermasculinity. It
addresses the prevalence of and beliefs about hypermasculine sexual behavior in society.
It reviews Jungian concepts relevant to a man’s psychological development and sexuality,
and discusses the fear of the feminine. Chapter III includes a hermeneutic evaluation of
the relationship between hypermasculine sexual behavior, male psychological
development around sex and gender, and its consequences for sex and relationships.
Chapter IV provides a summary of the research and a conclusion around the research
question. Clinical implications are discussed as are recommendations for future research
on the subject.
Chapter II
Literature Review
Introduction
This chapter defines hypermasculinity and examines research and literature on the
subject. Further discussion includes how hypermasculine sexual behavior is one
dimension of hypermasculinity. Included in this chapter are discussions around how
hypermasculine individuals view themselves and others and how these views are socially
supported. This chapter also examines literature on related psychological concepts such
as the masculine and feminine principles, complexes, the mother complex, the fear of the
feminine, the anima and its development, and the anima’s relation to sexuality.
The Masculine and Feminine Principles
To understand hypermasculine sexual behavior, one must be able to comprehend
the concepts of the masculine principle and its counterpart, the feminine principle.
Founder of analytical psychology C. G. Jung (1909-1951/2003) described how the
masculine and feminine principles respectively relate to the energies of Logos and Eros:
For purely psychological reasons I have . . . tried to equate the masculine
consciousness with the concept of Logos and the feminine with that of Eros. By
Logos I meant discrimination, judgment, insight, and by Eros I meant the capacity
to relate. (p. 85)
Although he admitted that there are exceptions and that this generalization does not
wholly define the two principles, Jung’s concept of Logos and Eros are meant to
highlight the general character of the masculine and feminine. In their most simple forms,
the feminine relates to “being” whereas the masculine relates to “doing” (Sullivan, 1989).
7
Within this thesis, the masculine principle refers to discriminating, differentiating actions
and the feminine principle denotes accepting and uniting behaviors.
Jungian analyst Barbara Stevens Sullivan (1989) described the masculine
principle as synonymous with actions and willpower. The author stated that such
masculine traits are a necessary part of the ability to separate from the dependency of
youth and begin to develop into an individual (p. 18). Comparative mythologist Joseph
Campbell (1991) posited that this process of separating from one’s family of origin and
developing an individual identity is present in cultures throughout the human race as a
natural occurrence. He stated that each individual must go through a psychological
transformation that involves leaving the state of dependency (p. 152).
Campbell (1991) related the separation from the state of childhood to the
archetypal process of the hero and the development toward maturity: “That’s the basic
motif of the universal hero’s journey—leaving one condition and finding the source of
life to bring you forth into a richer or more mature condition” (p. 152). This journey
involves the drive to separate from the dependence that defines one’s childhood as one
embarks on a quest to make one’s own mark on the world. As Sullivan (1989) and
Campbell (1991) have noted, the masculine principle assists an individual in moving
toward individuality by identifying with actions, will, and the heroic journey. Much of
this chapter and Chapter III explore how overidentifying with masculine and heroic
energies relates to an individual’s sexual behavior and relation to the feminine principle.
Hypermasculinity: A Caricature of Masculinity
Mythopoetic author and Jungian analyst Marion Woodman (2004) described how
supposed masculine characteristics that comprise patriarchy are often represented by
8
stereotypes of masculine traits that have little to do with the psychological masculine
principle. “I don’t think patriarchy has anything to do with masculinity. It is a power
principle that becomes a parody of itself” (para. 16). Thus, patriarchy is a caricature of
misunderstood aspects of the masculine principle. Woodman referred to the way in which
by overemphasizing masculinity, the patriarchal system has created its own principle.
The next section of this chapter examines research that describes how hypermasculinity is
a parody of itself based on accentuating stereotypical aspects of masculinity.
Researchers in the psychology of personality Donald Mosher and Mark Sirkin
(1984) identified hypermasculinity as emphasizing stereotypical masculine attitudes such
as being strong, decisive, and unresponsive to emotions. Thus, hypermasculine behavior
is distinct from and not an overemphasis of the masculine principle related to action and
will as defined by Sullivan (1989), or Logos (Jung, 1909-1951/2003, p. 85). According to
Mosher and Sirkin (1984), hypermasculine behavior involves a callous disposition
toward women and idealization of masculine strength, decisiveness, and independence
while viewing the feminine as a weaker, inferior alternative. Hypermasculinity is
synonymous with the terms misogyny, macho, and machismo that are often used in
research and discussion. For the purposes of this thesis, the term hypermasculine sexual
behavior denotes particular aspects of hypermasculinity that address sexual practices,
thoughts and beliefs on sexuality, and perspectives on female sexuality.
Mosher and personality theorist Silvan Tomkins (1988) observed that many
people believe that either the masculine or feminine principle is better or more important
than the other. They offered evidence that a hypermasculine male sees two mutually
exclusive categories of personal identity in which the feminine signifies weakness. This
9
perception causes the male to protect his gendered identity by championing masculine
traits. “Intolerant of any ambiguity in the dichotomous classification mandated by the
criterion of his ideals, he understands the world is divided into the strong and the weak,
the masculine and the feminine” (p. 69). The hypermasculine male perceives the
masculine principle to be superior to its feminine counterpart; this perception informs his
self-image and presentation, becoming the foundation of his external behavior. Chapter
III discusses how imagining the feminine as being inferior to the masculine relates to
hypermasculine sexual behavior and the fear of the feminine.
Hypermasculine Behavior as a Natural Development
Hypermasculinity seems to derive from a patriarchal perception of the superiority
of masculinity and the threat of feminine characteristics to a one-sided masculine identity
(Mosher & Sirkin, 1984; Woodman, 2003). Jungian analyst Beverley D. Zabriskie (1990)
explored the notion that such patriarchal behavior is a natural byproduct of the physical
differences between genders and was necessary during the evolution of civilization. This
evolution took the form of championing characteristics of the masculine principle such as
physical action and cognition represented by logic and orientation toward clear goals.
As the race’s relation to nature evolved from one of extraction and enhancement
of life’s necessities to the reshaping of matter through strength and domination,
those energies viewed as more male than female, more masculine than feminine,
were increasingly emphasized. (p. 268)
As the human race evolved, obvious physical differences changed the way males
and females were valued as male dominance naturally progressed (Zabriskie, 1990).
Meanwhile, masculine, goal-oriented, logical thinking patterns became emphasized.
“Physical size and strength and phallic, single-minded aggression were admired and
idealized” (p. 268). The evolution of civilization caused an emphasis on masculine traits
10
as feminine ones were forsaken, yielding a time in history when masculine qualities
appeared to be more desirable than feminine ones. Although she argued that
hypermasculinity has roots in the history of the human race, Zabriskie stated that such a
psychological imbalance is unhealthy for the psyche of the individual or group and that
humankind must return to an honoring of the feminine (p. 270). Embracing the masculine
is functional for certain aspects of goal-oriented development; continued
overidentification with the principle leads to a one-sided, unhealthy consciousness.
Chapter III discusses how this pattern is mirrored on an individual level.
Masculinity and Status
Mosher and Tomkins (1988) asserted that hypermasculine behavior is fueled by
the belief that men who do not display such attitudes and actions are part of an inferior
subgroup. According to the authors, overemphasizing supposed masculine traits is an
attempt to signify membership in a group that holds high status.
Macho ideology honors the “superior, masculine” affects and humiliates the
displayer of “inferior, feminine” affect. Thus, macho scripts exaggerate masculine
gender role. . . . Not just a male, and not just masculine, the macho must be
hypermasculine in ideology and action. The essentialist claim is made that that’s
just how “real men” are. (p. 64)
Interpreting status in such a way causes many to idealize the masculine principle while
feminine attributes are forsaken. Evidence described by Mosher and Tomkins
demonstrates that, for these individuals, taking any other action is to demonstrate
weakness by aligning with femininity and to lose social status and group belonging.
The negative perception of females contributes to the hypermasculine individual’s
idealization of masculinity and the devaluation of traits that are considered nonmasculine.
Researchers and psychologists Avi Ben-Zeev, Liz Scharnetski, Lann Chan, and Tara
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Dennehy (2012) summarized ways in which hypermasculine men attempt to distance
themselves from attitudes or behaviors that they or those around them consider to be
feminine. These attempts include identifying exclusively with heterosexuality and
degrading other sexual orientations and purposefully avoiding behaviors that are thought
to be feminine in order to accentuate masculine characteristics (p. 54). The authors
concluded that such behaviors are the result of a cultural paradigm that assigns inferior
status to groups that identify with anything other than masculine and heterosexual.
Chapter III includes further discussion of the hypermasculine belief in male superiority
and examines this belief’s relationship to the fear of the feminine.
A Multidimensional Approach to Studying Hypermasculinity
In examining hypermasculinity as intertwined with the concepts of gender and
sexuality, it is necessary to understand that under the subject of hypermasculinity, several
categories of behavior exist. The many attitudes and behaviors of hypermasculinity have
been the subject of numerous bodies of research. Although hypermasculinity may be
imagined as one single behavior, psychologists Charles Corprew III, Jamaal Matthews,
and Avery Mitchell (2014) demonstrated that it is necessary to differentiate between
separate characteristics of the phenomenon. For this reason, a multidimensional approach
to hypermasculinity is adopted in addressing the thesis research question. Corprew et al.
described the validity of this approach to examining hypermasculinity: “A
multidimensional approach implies that males can endorse varying levels of the distinct
dimensions of hypermasculinity, thus facilitating a plausible argument for multiple
hypermasculinities” (p. 107). Evidence that validates the multidimensional approach
12
toward understanding hypermasculine behavior reveals that individuals may exhibit one,
several, or all aspects of hypermasculinity.
Psychologists Linnea Burk, Barry Burkhart, and Jason Sikorski (2004) also
argued that a multidimensional approach to examining hypermasculine behavior is
needed. “There is a necessity to differentiate between men who are physically aggressive,
sexually aggressive, and those who may endorse hypermasculine attitudes but may not
commit a crime” (p. 5). Thus, a male who exhibits hypermasculinity around sexuality
may not necessarily have a disposition toward violence. Burk et al. used a
multidimensional approach in their study of hypermasculinity and identified sexual
identity as one of these dimensions of hypermasculine behavior. This thesis addresses
hypermasculine sexual behavior as a dimension and does not aim to examine other
aspects of hypermasculinity.
Subscribing to a Hypermasculine Sexual Behavior
Researchers such as Burk et al. (2004) have demonstrated that sexual identity
constitutes a large dimension of hypermasculinity. Likewise, a study by political
scientists Nicole Krassas, Joan Blauwkamp, and Peggy Wesselink (2003) revealed the
prevalence of this dimension in society. Krassas et al. demonstrated how consumers are
able to reassure themselves of a masculine, superior status by reading material that
validates their perspective. In their study of Maxim and Stuff magazines, Krassas et al.
described how by purchasing and reading the magazines, males may literally subscribe to
hypermasculine sexual doctrine, partaking of pages littered with images and words that
validate their beliefs. The authors noted that these periodicals, which are essentially how-
13
to guides for hypermasculinity, are bought in mass quantities. Their content supports the
notion that being macho, misogynistic, and hypermasculine is normal and healthy.
Maxim and Stuff frame sexuality and sexual practice in limited ways that reinforce
the objectification of women and privilege heterosexuality. Women are important
as objects of sexual desire and conquest, these articles say, but their pleasure is a
secondary consideration, intended only to ensure that men’s supply of sex
continues unabated. Men need a lot of sex with many female partners to be
satisfied, and they should not be constricted by relationships or monogamy.
(Krassas, Blauwkamp, & Wesselink, 2003, p. 114)
According to Krassas et al. (2003), the magazines studied do not present this
behavior as optional but as imperative. The magazines send the message that this sexual
behavior is normal, natural, and how men “should” behave whereas any other identity is
considered inferior. The conclusion Krassas et al. came to demonstrates how
hypermasculine sexual behavior is bought, sold, and shared in the social sphere.
Examining the psychology underneath the perception of this sexual behavior as natural,
the next section explores how thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that seem normal and
instinctual are actually the product of unconscious processes known as complexes.
The Complex
Jungian analyst Murray Stein (2013) described complexes as residing in the
unconscious and being made up of feelings, perceptions, desires, and personal memories
that disturb conscious thought processes. The author wrote that complexes are the result
of inner images and personal experience combining to form thoughts and feelings that
seem natural or instinctual. “Complexes are what remain in the psyche after it has
digested experience and reconstructed it into inner objects. In human beings, complexes
function as the equivalent of instincts in other mammals” (Stein, 1998, p. 49). When the
14
material forming a complex is incompatible with the conscious attitude or sense of self, it
is split off into the unconscious (Jung, 1948/1969, p. 96).
Complexes are organized around and given meaning by the archetypal content of
the psyche (Jung, 1948/1969, p. 101). Archetypes reside within the deepest, collective
layer of the unconscious as an inheritance of the universal motifs that have informed the
history of humankind (Jung, 1921/1971a, p. 443). Jacobi (1957/1959) described
archetypes as “not inherited representations, but inherited possibilities of representation”
(p. 52). With roots emerging from archetypal possibilities, a complex does not reveal
itself but instead makes a person feel their thoughts come from a natural, internal drive
(Stein, 1998). Complexes exist as a bridge between the psychic blueprints of the
archetypes and the sensations and memories from individual lives.
The fundamental task of the complex is to serve as vehicle and vessel of
transformation, whereby the archetypal essence is brought into living reality. The
complex brings archetypal core and personal experience to bear on each other,
uniting them in the flow of psychic life. (Shalit, 2002, p. 68)
Comprised of both collective, unconscious material and sensations unique to each
individual, the complex becomes an interpretation for the experience of an individual life.
Analytical psychologist Erel Shalit’s (2002) explanation reveals how the formation of
complexes is a tool that is necessary to navigate this life.
Although complexes are necessary and inherent to the psyche, Jungian analyst
Jolande Jacobi (1957/1959) noted that their negative aspects can only be overcome if one
is able to successfully integrate them into consciousness. “Everything depends on
whether the conscious mind is capable of understanding, assimilating, and integrating the
complex, in order to ward off its harmful effects” (p. 27). Because an unconscious
15
complex is charged with both emotional and archetypal energy, it acts autonomously
from the conscious will (Jung, 1948/1969, pp. 103-104).
If an individual is not able to complete the process of integration, the complex is
able to claim ownership of the person, disrupting thoughts, feelings, and behavior in such
a way as to rectify each situation in a way that satisfies the complex. As such, Jung
(1937/1969) noted that the complex compensates for the one-sided perspective of the
conscious attitude (pp. 122-123). In this way, much of conscious thought that is believed
to derive from rational thought is instead a reflection of unconscious material such as
emotions and experiences (Jacobi, 1957/1959). For example, the hypermasculine identity
appears to rest on a belief that this personality type is the only logical way to go about in
the world. Although simplifying a person to a set of gender roles seems to make sense to
a hypermasculine person in whom feminine qualities have been split off into an
unconscious complex, it is clear that rational thought may justify feelings that are the
result of a complex. Chapter III examines the unconscious processes related to
hypermasculine sexual behavior. The following sections add to the foundation of that
examination in discussing how the mother complex relates to the fear of the feminine.
The Mother of all Complexes
The mother complex is especially important to the development of the individual.
Jung (1925-1957/1982) described the role a male’s mother plays in the development of
his ideas around the masculine and feminine principles:
The mother is the first feminine being with whom the man-to-be comes in contact,
and she cannot help playing, overtly or covertly, consciously or unconsciously,
upon the son’s masculinity, just as the son in his turn grows increasingly aware of
his mother’s femininity, or unconsciously responds to it by instinct.
(pp. 113-114)
16
These interactions form what Jung referred to as the mother complex (Sharp, 1991). As
described in the above quotation, because the complex appears as a natural reaction to
stimuli, a male’s response to his mother remains an unconscious process to him.
Archetypal psychologist James Hillman (1989) wrote that an individual’s mother
contributes greatly to the way in which a person’s psyche develops and interacts with the
external world. “The mother archetype itself is responsible for personalistic psychology
and for loading the burdens of the archetypal upon personal figures, personal relations
and personal solutions, and for taking oneself so personally, one’s problems and fate
always as ‘mine’” (p. 224). A man’s personal relationships are impacted by the way in
which his experiences with his mother combine with archetypal feminine images. In this
way, his relationship with his mother determines his experience of the feminine principle.
Fear of the Feminine
Jungian analyst Erich Neumann (1959/1994) wrote that the experience of the
feminine principle is related to the safety the mother provides for a child. “For the human
child and consequently for the human ego, the normal, primal situation of security is one
guaranteed by the mother—i.e., by a feminine quality—characterized by the primal
relationship to the Feminine” (p. 232). A man’s experience with his mother has such an
impact due to the nature of the relationship between a child and the woman that gives
birth to him. Shalit (2002) summarized that a child naturally experiences its mother as a
powerful provider of safety and care, but also recognizes the other side of the mother’s
omnipotence: “The archetype of the Great Mother has both a generative, creative aspect
and a devouring, killing side (the Terrible Mother)” (p. 88). As Jung (1925-1957/1982),
Hillman (1989), Shalit (2002), and Neumann (1959/1994) have demonstrated, a child’s
17
positive and negative feelings toward the feminine principle are rooted in his or her
experience with the mother. Thus, the fear of the feminine begins with the mother.
The fear of the feminine derives from an individual’s understanding of the power
of the mother. Neumann (1959/1994) explained that for an infant, the mother is
omnipotent and for the first phase of its life a baby is unable to separate its mother from
its concept of the self. Although the initial fear of the feminine arises from an
understanding of the omnipotence of the mother, it evolves into a fear of the unconscious
feminine inherent within a person’s psyche, which Jung called the anima (1954/1969, p.
26). The anima is a personal complex of material coalesced around an archetypal image
of woman. Jung noted that in its dual relationship to the experience of the personal
mother and to the archetypal feminine of the Great Mother, “the anima is the archetype of
life itself” (p. 32). Because the anima is an intrapsychic presence, its eruption from the
unconscious threatens the developing masculine sense of self. As Neumann (1959/1994)
explained, “Thus this second important fear of the Feminine appearing next to the fear of
the mother is the fear of the anima as fear of the transformation” (p. 254). The next
section of this chapter explores the concept of the anima while Chapter III examines how
this fear of the anima and its transforming function relates to identification with
hypermasculine sexual behavior.
The Anima
Jungian analyst Marie-Louise von Franz (1964) described a man’s anima as a
device that allows him to relate to archetypal feminine images:
The anima is a personification of all feminine psychological tendencies in a man’s
psyche, such as vague feelings and moods, prophetic hunches, receptiveness to
the irrational, capacity for personal love, feeling for nature, and—last but not
least—his relation to the unconscious. (p. 177)
18
From a classical Jungian perspective, in the most basic terms, the anima is the
female part of a male’s psyche that resides in the unconscious. This concept of the anima
has been challenged and revised by post-Jungian scholars as androcentric and carrying
patriarchal bias (Rowland, 2002). However, because hypermasculinity evolved in the
same patriarchal context as Jung’s perspective on the anima (Woodman, 2004), the
classical definition fits the evolution of hypermasculinity, is useful to its understanding,
and thus is used in this thesis.
Jung (1961/1963) wrote that the inner figure of the feminine “plays a typical, or
archetypal, role in the unconscious of a man, and I called her the ‘anima’” (p. 186). He
considered the anima to be such a powerful figure in the unconscious that it would be
unavoidable for it not to play a role in a man’s psychological development. Jung (19091951/2003) explained that the archetype of the anima, because it inhabits a personal
complex, does not appear the same in every man: “The merely abstract notion of the
anima conveys nothing, but when you say the anima is almost personal, a complex that
behaves exactly as if she were a little person . . . then you get it about right” (p. 134). The
archetypal material of a man’s anima may be thought of as a silhouette of the potentials
within the feminine principle. As seen through a patriarchal lens, such as Jung’s theory
held, that principle is assigned to and associated with the domain of women (Rowland,
2002). As such, psychologically and culturally, a man’s anima is projected onto women.
The anima as a representation of the feminine is always formed in an individual,
experiential way (Sharp, 1991). Each man’s anima has unique qualities and feels as if she
has her own personal voice, projected outward by the man as a real, specific other to
whom he is attracted. Additionally, the anima is related to the man’s outer personality.
19
Stein (1998) explained that when one has developed a masculine persona—the attitude
that one shows to the world—it exists in a compensatory relationship to the anima.
However, he cautioned that the two should not be reduced to a simplistic opposition with
one another (p. 128). Whereas the persona is formed around responses to the
environment, the anima of a man responds to unconscious content including collective,
archetypal material and personal experiential material. As such, even though it seems in
opposition to the persona, it plays a connective role in the psyche.
Although a man may be aware of the masculine figure of his persona and how it
affects his life, the same individual likely is unaware of the role his feminine side plays.
Zabriskie (1990) wrote that the function of the personalized voice of the anima is
demonstrated by its mere existence: “This required of a man that he examine,
differentiate, and integrate his own images and projections of the feminine apart from
actual women” (p. 273). The anima exists to be integrated into consciousness and enable
communication between the ego and unconscious that leads to an awakening of inner
feminine qualities. The result of this process is a deeper understanding of the self and a
closer connection to the human race. The next section of this chapter addresses the
development of the anima as a foundation for the examination in Chapter III of the
relationship between a lack of anima integration and hypermasculine sexual behavior.
Anima Development
Jungian analyst Daryl Sharp (1988) described four stages of anima development
and revealed that the first and second stages contain a constricted view of women as
biological and sexual objects. As part of psychological development, a male grows into a
20
mature relationship with the anima. In the third stage of development, females are finally
perceived to be individual, dynamic beings.
The man with an anima of this kind is able to see a woman as she is, independent
of his own needs. His sexuality is integrated into his life, not an autonomous
function that drives him. He can differentiate between love and lust. He is capable
of lasting relationships because he can tell the difference between the object of his
desire and his inner image of woman. (p. 64)
If a male is unable to reach a mature point of anima development, his experience of
females would be limited to sexualizing the relationship and being driven by lust instead
of love. Chapter III further explores how hypermasculine sexual behavior is synonymous
with a lack of anima development.
The Anima’s Relation to Sexuality
The correlation between hypermasculine sexual behavior and the anima is evident
given the latter’s involvement in gender and sexuality. Jung (1909-1951/2003) described
how a man’s relationship with the anima archetype dictates his sexual relationships and
how this dynamic is rooted in the early relationship with the individual’s mother.
The love life of a man reveals the psychology of this archetype in the form either
of boundless fascination, overvaluation, and infatuation, or of misogyny in all its
gradations and variants, none of which can be explained by the real nature of the
“object” in question, but only by a transference of the mother complex. (p. 119)
Because the mother complex produces the qualities of a man’s intimate relationships,
attitudes toward women, such as infatuation or misogyny, are not a reaction to a specific
female but instead are correlated to the relationship with the mother. This reveals how a
man’s relationship to his anima is affected by his experiences with his mother.
Although a man’s relationship with his anima is related to early interactions with
his mother, von Franz (1996) revealed that a male first experiences his anima through his
sexuality.
21
You can say that the vehicle bringing up the anima is sex and sexual fantasy,
which in a man’s makeup is very often in the way in which the world of Eros first
wells up into his consciousness. It first is carried, as it were, by sexual fantasies.
(p. 86)
In normal development, the anima first makes itself known to a male through his sexual
thoughts and feelings. The relationship between a man and his anima has connotations for
his sexual life from then on. A man’s perception of feminine sexuality is rooted in his
relationship with his anima: “What men say about feminine eroticism, and particularly
about the emotional life of women, is derived from their own anima projections, and
distorted accordingly” (Jung, 1931/1954, p. 198). Hypermasculine sexual behavior is
further explored in Chapter III as a response to the unconscious content of the anima.
Conclusion and Prelude to Chapter III
The review of literature revealed that hypermasculinity is defined as an
overidentification with stereotypical characteristics of masculinity (Mosher & Sirkin,
1984). Hypermasculine sexual behavior is one of many dimensions to hypermasculinity
that research has demonstrated is prevalent in society (Corprew, Matthews, & Mitchell,
2014). Although the masculine principle is crucial to both the evolution of humankind
and the development of the individual (Mosher & Tomkins, 1988), a fear of the Feminine
and its projection as inferior onto females causes an overidentification with
hypermasculine sexual behavior. From a Jungian perspective, a man’s mother complex
relates to his fear of his anima (Neumann, 1959/1994), which, when projected outward
onto women, influences his sexual behavior (von Franz, 1996). Chapter III continues the
examination of these subjects as well as describing how hypermasculine sexual behavior
is related to the anima and the fear of the feminine and appears to be a response to the
power of the feminine principle.
Chapter III
Findings and Clinical Applications
Introduction
A male begins life with his relationship to females based on the omnipotence of
his mother (Neumann, (1959/1994). The natural process of separating from her and
becoming an individual creates a drive to identify with a heroic, masculine
consciousness. Now separate from his mother, sexual fantasy brings him into touch with
his anima as he begins a new relationship to the feminine. The first stage of the
development of the anima involves the sexual objectification of females that correlates
strongly to hypermasculine sexual behavior (Sharp, 1988). Normal psychological
development is contingent on integrating aspects of the Feminine through the anima. The
hypermasculine male appears fused with an immature level of anima development in
which, as described by Sharp, females are seen as sexual objects.
Early, immature stages of relating to the feminine are reactive to the need to feel
secure and conquer one’s fear vis-à-vis one’s dependence on the mother as representative
of the overwhelming archetype of the Great Mother. A man’s hypermasculine sexual
behavior such as devaluing, objectifying, and conquering females is overcompensation
for feeling insecure and fearful of women, female sexuality, and the feminine principle.
Neumann (1959/1994) explained why a man resists integration of the Feminine in his
own psyche and degrades the Feminine out of fear.
The man wants to remain exclusively masculine and out of fear rejects the
transformative contact with a woman of equal status. Negativizing the Feminine
23
in the patriarchate prevents the man from experiencing woman as a thou of equal
but different status, and hence from coming to terms with her. (p. 264)
Hypermasculine sexual behavior as a dimension explored in this thesis. In
regards to this thesis, hypermasculine sexual behavior refers to the following behaviors:
treating sex as a conquest, objectifying women, degrading and calloused attitudes toward
females and femininity, overcompensating for insecurities, making crude jokes about sex,
obsession with the size and performance of physical sexual characteristics, and bragging
about sexual experiences. It is the hypothesis of this thesis that these behaviors center on
enthusiastically differentiating oneself from women and femininity in general while
attempting to project an image of sexual potency.
Masculine and feminine: Not male and female. Cultural mythologist Carol
Winters (2006) noted the common error of believing the feminine and masculine
principles to be synonymous with female and male. The author described how this error
is present in Western culture and the effect it has had for the individual:
Our culture has had a long heritage of associating the feminine principle with
what it means to be female and the masculine principle with what it means to be
male. As a result, both men and women have traditionally been locked into rigid
culturally-defined gender roles that have not been helpful for anyone who wishes
to live a more meaningful, creative, and soul-making life. (p. 206)
This fundamental error of equating the masculine and feminine principles to genders has
been detrimental to individuals who wish to enrich their psychological lives. As Winters
stated this mistake is repeated on a cultural level. It is clear that a rupture exists in society
between a mature understanding of the masculine and feminine principles and their
perceptions as synonymous with gender. This thesis rests on an understanding of this
cultural error of equating the masculine and feminine principles with gender.
24
As Winters (2006) stated, confusing the feminine and masculine principles with
female and male is a societal problem. For the individual, this confusion causes one’s
relation to the feminine and masculine principles to exist through one’s relation to
women and men. This thesis posits that much of hypermasculine sexual behavior
includes making the error of equating the masculine and feminine with the male and
female genders and causes male individuals to overidentify with the masculine principle.
Connection or Differentiation
Whereas the error of equating the feminine and masculine to gender seems to
create a divide between the principles, Jungian analyst James Hollis (2000) demonstrated
that it is clear that the feminine and masculine principles psychically complement each
other. “Eros is the energy that seeks connection. . . . The other great power is Logos, the
dividing power, the principle of development through differentiation. When Eros and
logos combine, there is a synergy which is extraordinarily powerful” (p. 36). If an
individual were to identify with only the masculine, they would be limited to
differentiation without connection. Instead of experiencing the synergy Hollis referred to,
this individual would live in a world void of feminine energy. By overidentifying with
the masculine principle, men who engage in hypermasculine sexual behavior lack the
synergy that Hollis spoke of due to a lack of a connection to the relational power of Eros.
Although it is evident that combining the masculine and feminine principles is a
powerful experience, this thesis is concerned with character development that involves a
one-sided consciousness that is the result of overidentifying with the masculine principle.
The hypothesis of this thesis involves the hypermasculine male’s overidentification with
25
the masculine principle that leaves him unable to participate in the powerful coming
together of Logos and Eros. Instead, the hypermasculine individual lacks erotic energy.
Shalit (2002) discussed how sex unites and connects through erotic power: “The
sexual act, behind which we find Eros, is based on the tension that causes the very union
that enables the creation of life” (p. 48). In regards to sexuality, the feminine energy of
Eros provides the erotic power that defines the connection between two lovers. Without a
relation to the feminine Eros—the energy that seeks connection—sex becomes an act of
division and dominance. Such a perception of sex is a hallmark of hypermasculine sexual
behavior. Instead of promoting sex as the connection of lovers, the act becomes an
individual acting upon an object. Later in this chapter, discussion includes the
hypermasculine sexual behavior of the sexual objectification of women and how this
action relates to the fear of the feminine.
According to Sullivan (1989), to reject the feminine and adhere to the masculine
principle is to forsake love in favor of dominance. “The masculine approach disregards
relationships, orienting towards accomplishments and power” (p. 20). This approach has
clear connotations for the sexual life of an individual. By forsaking a connection to the
energy of Eros, the sexual act centers around differentiation and dominance over
connection and love. Forsaking relationships in favor of power, the hypermasculine man
treats sex as a conquest over an object.
Neumann (1959/1994) described the circular relationship that exists between
relating to women and the ability to participate in intimate sexual relationships: “The
capacity for a sexual relationship is inseparable from the capacity to relate to others in
general and to a woman in particular” (p. 256). As Shalit (2002) and Sullivan (1989) have
26
shown, the power of Eros is necessary to establish healthy relationships and a mature
understanding of the uniting power of sex. It is evident then that a lack of a connection to
the power of Eros leaves a man unable to relate to women and maturely participate in
sexual relationships. As discussed in greater detail later in this chapter, by overidentifying
with the masculine principle and lacking a connection to the feminine, men who engage
in hypermasculine sexual behavior understand sex as conquest over a female instead of
connection with her.
Failure to Give Up Heroic Masculinity
Sullivan (1989) wrote that although the static side of the masculine is represented
by laws and regulations, the dynamic side of the masculine principle focuses on action
that assists an individual in establishing a sense of identity in relation to the world. “This
side of the masculine principle values initiative and action directed toward a goal. Here
we have the story of the hero with his drive to conquer and to become a differentiated
individual” (p. 18). The hero is masculine, decisive, and conquering and identification
with this archetype is a necessary part of normal development that helps one individuate
from one’s family of origin.
Although identification with the masculine aspect of the hero serves a crucial
function, Beebe (2003) demonstrated that the next step to healthy development is
evolving past this point. Beebe wrote that Jung ultimately believed that a life lived fully
in the heroic mindset is incomplete.
For Jung, as for no other psychological writer, the essence of genuine
psychological development involves a giving up of the hero. When heroic
consciousness dominates, one thinks one knows better than the unconscious who
one is and feels one should therefore be in control of one’s life. (p. vi)
27
As psychological development involves moving on from identification with a
heroic consciousness that champions the masculine principle, it is evident that it is
necessary to relinquish overidentification with the masculine principle in order to develop
psychologically. Because hypermasculinity is based on accentuating the masculine
principle, hypermasculine sexual behavior therefore signifies a lack of psychological
development. Next, this thesis discusses how the psychic content of the anima drives a
man’s psychological development.
The Anima and Male Psychological Development
This section examines how a male’s psychological development around sex and
the opposite gender is driven by the anima. Sharp’s (1988) description of the sexual
objectification of women consistent with early anima development reveals how
hypermasculine sexual behavior correlates to this stage in psychological development.
Because hypermasculine sexual behavior reflects early anima development and because
anima development is necessary for a mature psychological understanding of sex and
gender, hypermasculine sexual behavior is a sign of psychological development.
Beebe (2003) described how a male child is entirely dependent on his mother
until he separates himself from her during a process in which the masculine hero
archetype drives him towards independence and differentiation. “In the deep psyche the
hero delivers himself from the mother archetype (and from the infantile unconsciousness
that the hero’s bondage to her authority represents for the conscious personality) only to
encounter the demands of the anima” (p. v). After the process of separation from his
mother, a man’s relation to women is greatly influenced by the psychic content of the
28
anima. Thus, a man’s relationship with this archetypal material helps shape his
understanding of and interaction with females.
Beebe (2003) described how the anima is crucial to the psychological
development of relinquishing identification with masculine heroic consciousness: “Only
the anima can deliver a man into a consciousness that is based, not on heroic selfmastery, but rather on empathic participation in life” (p. v). Empathy “presupposes a
subjective attitude of confidence” that enables meeting the other “halfway” to bring about
understanding (Jung, 1921/1971b, p. 292). This confidence is ideally the outcome of the
hero’s journey in earlier psychological development involving separating from one’s
family (Campbell, 1991). Psychological development involves the ability to have
empathic relationships and relate to another being, and is a product of the development of
the anima. Hypermasculine sexual behavior based on differentiating the feminine from
the masculine is thus a signal that a male identifies with a masculine, heroic mindset and
is not yet ready to encounter the challenge of anima development.
Jung (1921/1971b) noted the crucial value to collective life of psychological
maturation: “The man with the empathetic attitude finds himself . . . in a world that needs
his subjective feeling to give it life and soul” (p. 293). In contrast, the man lacking an
empathic attunement to life “finds himself in a frighteningly animated world that seeks to
overpower and smother him” and leaves him with “great inner uneasiness” (p. 293). This
can lead such a man to remain stuck in the first stage of anima development,
overidentifying with hypermasculinity as he attempts to confine “the irregular and
changeable within fixed limits” (p. 293).
29
In the first stage of anima development, females are seen as objects that represent
reproduction and sexual desire (Sharp, 1988). Males at this stage of anima development
lack the understanding that females are autonomous beings with individual interests and
value beyond a sexual component. The first stage of anima development is represented by
hypermasculine sexual behavior such as the sexual objectification of women and callous
attitudes towards sex. Thus hypermasculine sexual behavior may be understood as a
symptom of an undeveloped anima.
Singer (1994) described the anima and corresponding animus, the term used to
describe aspects of the masculine principle within the psyche, as perhaps the most
challenging of unconscious content to integrate into consciousness. As contrasexual
components of psychological life, they “are tied up with our sexual drives on one hand,
and the utter mystery of their otherness on the other” (Singer, 1994, pp. 229-230).
Engaging in behavior that correlates to a lack of anima development, hypermasculine
men, in the uneasiness Jung (1921/1971b, p. 293) observed, seem unable to face the
challenge of addressing the mystery Singer (1994) spoke of. Men who engage in
hypermasculine sexual behavior never untangle their anima from sexual drives.
This thesis presents the possibility that hypermasculine sexual behavior represents
a fear of integrating the feminine principle through the development of the anima. The
rejection of anima integration and her complexity allows a man to use hypermasculine
sexual behavior to simplify both females and the feminine principle in order to make
them unthreatening. The hypothesis follows that the challenge of anima integration
creates fear of this psychological development and that hypermasculine sexual behavior
is rooted in simplifying and devaluing the feminine instead of facing her challenge. Jung
30
(1921/1971a) addressed the challenge of becoming aware of the anima, declaring that
recognizing one’s projections of her onto outer women is a difficult task (p. 470). In
hypermasculine sexual behavior the man’s image of his anima is projected outward onto
women whom he then fears as much as he fears his anima. This creates the need to
objectify and dominate women so as to avoid having his sense of self overwhelmed and
annihilated by the feminine that now threatens him in his inner and outer world.
From Jungian analyst Donald Kalsched’s (1996) perspective on trauma, the terror
that drives this dynamic seems to speak of traumatogenic content in the man’s mother
complex, and its entwinement with the anima, such that the psyche maintains the
complex and the anima as split-off material to protect against retraumatization.
Hypermasculine sexual behavior, therefore, appears to represent a man’s psychological
inability to accept the challenging presence of anima in his own psyche and take the next
necessary step in psychological development, relinquishing his identification with the
hero archetype, to enter into a mature relationship with the anima. This dilemma is
exacerbated by the hyper androcentric gender-identity conferring patriarchal,
sociocultural milieu, in which there is a collective fear of the feminine.
Devaluing the Feminine as a Response to Fear
While development of the anima is necessary for psychological maturation,
hypermasculine behavior rests on the notion that masculinity is superior to femininity and
that integration of the feminine serves to weaken an individual (Mosher & Tomkins,
1988, p. 69). Neumann (1959/1994) observed that hypermasculine men take this
stratification a step further by degrading females and the feminine in an attempt to defend
themselves from their fear of the Feminine. “Consequently, the devaluation of the
31
Feminine is to be understood as an attempt at overcoming the fear of the Feminine and its
dangerous aspect as the Great Mother and as the anima” (p. 263). According to
Neumann, the devaluation of women appears to be an attempt to deny the power of the
feminine and seize control over it. Hypermasculine sexual behavior that aims to dominate
women is a response to a fear of the feminine principle.
The devaluation of the feminine principle creates a division in status between
groups that are perceived as masculine or feminine. Sexual orientations divergent from
heterosexuality are grouped with femininity as inferior whereas homophobia and
behavior that disparages femininity are understood as signs of strength (Ben-Zeev,
Scharnetski, Chan, & Dennehy, 2012, p. 54). The belief that such stratification exists
between status groups reveals how some believe that masculinity signifies membership in
an elite class. According to this mode of thought, femininity and nonheterosexual
identities alert others of one’s inferior status. This sociocultural stratification colludes
with hypermasculine sexual behavior, hiding the unconscious complex under the
reasoning that the masculine is superior and is the province of men who are thus also
superior and rightfully exist in a higher status over women and the feminine, which
includes men who are less masculine.
It has been noted that the masculine principle involves differentiation, dividing
and defining and that a strictly masculine approach to the environment involves
perceiving others as separate and disparate instead of relating to them (Sullivan, 1989).
For the hypermasculine individual, what is separate and different is not only seen as
foreign, but is disparaged as inferior. For this reason, a man who engages in
32
hypermasculine sexual behavior appears to consciously reject integrating the feminine
principle because he imagines this process weakening himself.
This thesis presents the possibility that hypermasculine sexual behavior involves
depotentiating the value and power of a woman’s sexuality and reducing her to a static
sexual character by discounting her choices. Sexually, females are often negatively
perceived by men who believe that a woman who refuses a man’s sexual advances is a
“tease” (Cornman, 1996) while a woman who offers sex is likely to be considered a
“slut.” Both labels are pejorative: The attempt to transform a dynamic female into a
sexual object remains constant.
Sexual Objectification of Women
Due to the common error of equating the masculine and feminine principles with
gender, devaluating the Feminine is often synonymous with devaluing women. As
Neumann (1959/1994) demonstrated, the devaluation of women may be understood as an
attempt at overcoming the fear of the Feminine. The objectification of women therefore
appears to be a hypermasculine sexual behavior that attempts to reduce the value and
power of the female gender in an attempt to overcome the fear of the feminine by
simplifying the complex female to a simple, controllable, unthreatening object. From this
hypermasculine perspective, a woman has more in common with an inanimate object
than a being with her own dynamic needs, desires, and feelings. Lacking a connection
with their own anima and thus without empathy, hypermasculinity sees women without
life or soul. Those who defend hypermasculine sexual behavior may argue that
objectification is a natural aspect of normal male sexuality. However, objectification of
women is an individually and collectively enacted hypermasculine sexual behavior that
33
seems to have roots in men’s relationship with the feminine principle and need to
overcome fear of the Feminine by devaluing her power.
Mosher and Tomkins (1988) argued that a social policy of objectifying and
devaluing the Feminine is spread among hypermasculine compatriots. “The 4-F
philosophy—‘find them, fool them, fuck them, and forget them’—encapsulates the
macho’s sexual ideology” (p. 72). Such a strategy, concisely spelling out how to hunt for,
deceive, conquer, and ignore females, demonstrates the sexual behavior of a
hypermasculine male. Mosher and Tomkins’s discussion highlights how, for a
hypermasculine male, a female exists as little more than a static three-dimensional object
that receives the act of sex. The “4-F” philosophy is an example of an attempt to
normalize objectifying behavior in a social sphere. The syntax of the slogan, use of
alliteration, and crass humor reveals that such a motto is a way a social group
communicates to validate and reinforce shared thoughts and actions. Such obvious
objectification is an attempt to reduce women to simple, predictable objects with little
value.
Psychoanalyst Karen Horney (1967) discussed the link between hypermasculine
sexuality, objectifying women, treating sex irresponsibly, and devaluing females:
“Emphasis on irresponsible sexual indulgence, and devaluation of women to an object of
purely physical needs, are further consequences of this masculine attitude” (p. 115).
Reducing a woman to a sexual object depotentiates her value and energy as a being.
Evidence is not required to make the obvious point that a woman is a dynamic individual
with an independent psyche. However, it has been shown that men who engage in
hypermasculine sexual behavior simplify, reduce, and disparage women into caricatures
34
of a gender. Hypermasculine sexual behavior such as objectifying and thus simplifying
women may serve as an attempt to defend against the fear of accepting the challenge of
anima development. The hypothesis of this thesis presents the idea that it is not enough to
blame such behavior on mere ignorance. Instead, it is clear that psychic complexes are at
work, producing sexual conquest as a means of conquering one’s fear of the complex and
its archetypal core.
Sex as Conquest
The multidimensional approach to the study of hypermasculinity gives credence
to the notion that an aggressive sexual identity is one of many aspects of hypermasculine
behavior. In their study, Burk et al. (2004) described the factors comprising the sexual
identity of a hypermasculine male to include championing casual sex, bragging about
sexual conquests, and describing details of sexual conquests to friends. All three criteria
were found to correlate strongly with a hypermasculine identity.
Deborah Cornman (1996), Associate Director of the Center for Health,
Intervention, and Prevention at the University of Connecticut, examined the sexual
behavior of macho men, a term that is synonymous with hypermasculine male.
Cornman’s findings demonstrate that men who adopt a hypermasculine attitude
consistently view sex from a self-centered perspective that places little value on the
emotional and physical safety of their partner. “Macho men were much less likely to have
a presex discussion about STDs with a new partner than were nonmacho men which is
consistent with a macho sexual script that prioritizes calloused sex and sexual conquest”
(p. 109). For these macho men, sex is not about a connection with a partner but involves a
victory over a foreign body. Compared to men who do not exhibit hypermasculine
35
behavior around sex, hypermasculine men were found to feel good about themselves if
they were able to overcome a female partner’s refusal to engage in sex (Cornman, 1996).
In addition, hypermasculine men were much more likely to consider a woman a “tease” if
she refused to have sex with them (Cornman, 1996), revealing that macho men
experience females from a skewed and self-centered perspective.
Horney (1967) wrote that men with such views feel the need to repeatedly prove
their masculinity, believing sex to be an act of conquering. She referenced what she
described as a narcissistic overcompensation: “A man of this type in its more extreme
form has therefore one interest only: to conquer. His aim is to have ‘possessed’ many
women, and the most beautiful and most sought-after women” (p. 145). Jungian analyst
Nathan Schwartz-Salant (1982) provided a description of narcissism that echoes the fear
of being effeminate in hypermasculinity: In the “extreme self-adoration” (p. 9) of
narcissism, the person lacks empathy and warmth and is “always vulnerable to becoming
enfeebled” (p. 21). For the men Horney (1967) spoke of, sexual conquest is the ultimate
way to prove their masculinity to themselves and others. Proving his masculinity
becomes a game of numbers that values quantity of partners over quality of interactions.
Overcompensation and the Fear of Feminine Sexuality
Horney (1967) argued that the fear of the feminine exists in a fear of a woman’s
sexuality. The author stated that this common fear reveals itself in how men relate to
women. “It is man’s dread of not being able to satisfy the woman. It is his fear of her
demands in general and of her sexual demands in particular” (p. 126). The fear of
femininity reveals itself in many ways and in this case is demonstrated by the dread of a
woman’s physical sexuality. Horney continued and described how this fear of being
36
unable to satisfy a woman sexually is masked by a hypermasculine persona. “Traces of
this insecurity will remain . . . hidden behind an overemphasis on masculinity as a value
in and of itself, yet these insecurities betray themselves through the ever-fluctuating selfconfidence of the male in his relating to the female” (p. 127). A male’s overemphasis on
masculinity disguises insecurities in sexually relating to women that would cause him to
experience himself as less than the superior and dominating masculine. Because the
hypermasculine man’s identity is founded in overemphasized masculinity and split-off
femininity, his sexual behavior overcompensates for feeling both insecure in his sexual
relationships with women and vulnerable to the unwanted presence of his anima.
Behavior such as overcompensation and joking about the subjects of gender and
sex are results of an attempt to mask personal fears (Kierski & Blazina, 2009). “There is
pressure on men to be effective and skillful in hiding their fears and adjust according to
change in circumstances. The hiding process takes place within a gender specific manner,
i.e., over-compensation, joking, aggression” (p. 166). Hypermasculine behavior, such as
overcompensation and making crude jokes, is part of a personality adaptation based on
bravado masking deep fears around sexuality. Sex researchers Kahn et al. (2007) argued
that overcompensation for sexual tensions is detrimental for a man in that he exhibits a
false sexuality when around others. “Men experience contradictory status and multilayered sexuality. The outer layer, a public or peer-sex culture, is where men generally
hide their sexual tensions. Men overstate their masculine sexual power that ultimately
decreases their self-esteem and confidence” (p. 47). This “outer layer” is synonymous to
Jung’s (1921/1971a) concept of the persona, an outer attitude adaptive to social
expectations that one, often consciously, exudes (p. 465).
37
Khan et al. (2007) revealed that most men feel some degree of sexual inadequacy
and that the mask of hypermasculinity protects a male’s inner thoughts around sexuality.
Such thoughts tend to be dominated by confusion and fear, directly conflicting with the
hypermasculine persona. “Their inner or private layer of sexuality is often full of fear,
threat, confusion, myths and tensions. . . . Most men are threatened by macho media
images portrayed, exaggerated and reinforced by peers” (p. 47). The individual is
bombarded by social messages of idealized hypermasculinity and by other personas using
overcompensation as a defense against sexual insecurity. This perspective reveals the
overcompensating hypermasculine persona as psychically created and socially reinforced.
Phallic Narcissism
In their lengthy examination of the work of sex researchers William Masters and
Virginia Johnson, scientific authors Ruth Brecher and Edward Brecher (1966) found that
one of the most common myths that men hold fast to is that male sexual performance is a
result of the size of his penis (p. 82). “Many men and boys are worried by the small size
of their penis. . . . Psychiatrists report that the resulting feeling of inferiority is a serious
problem for substantial numbers of men” (p. 82). The fear of feeling inferior to women is
represented in many male’s feelings about their own sexual potency.
Horney (1967) concluded that the narcissistic scar of the Freudian phallic phase
continues into adulthood as a male obsesses about the size of his penis. She wrote that
concern about penis size “is displayed naively throughout boyhood and persists later as a
deeply hidden anxiety about the size of the subject’s penis or his potency, or else as a less
concealed pride about them” (p. 145). This narcissistic tendency in men to relate their
self-worth to their penis mirrors research done by Khan et al. (2007), who found that
38
many men believe their masculinity is directly related to their penis. “Thus, the penis is
situated at the core of masculinity. The meanings of penile erection equate with male
power and potency. Men see penetration as the subsequent success of male power needed
to win women” (p. 45). Championing an aspect of anatomy that females lack may serve
as an indicator of masculine power over the feminine: Obsession with one’s penis can be
seen as related to one’s desire to feel powerful in relation to females—ultimate evidence
of one’s masculinity in the psychological and psychocultural need to secure a male
identity against the threat of the feminine.
Conclusion and Clinical Application
Hypermasculinity involves the obsession of maintaining a persona that appears to
be an edifice of strength. Although identifying with traits associated with the masculine
principle is necessary in the process of male psychological growth, maturation can only
continue by developing a relationship to the feminine principle and females through the
anima. However, for the hypermasculine male, the challenge the anima presents coupled
with the mystery of feminine sexuality creates a deep fear of feeling inferior to women.
The anxiety of feeling inferior to a woman is powerful enough to cause the
hypermasculine man to engage in behavior to preemptively devalue and objectify her.
Such hypermasculine sexual behavior may be interpreted as an attempt to overcome his
fear of the feminine.
Psychotherapists working with men who engage in hypermasculine sexual
behavior might ask their clients where they believe people develop their thoughts,
feelings, and beliefs around sexuality and gender. Discussion may lead to a client
becoming more mindful of different perspectives and paths of development, offering
39
potential alternatives to a hypermasculine persona. Psychotherapists also might explore a
client’s childhood and family of origin and particularly his relationship with his mother.
A client of this type may require significantly more time developing enough safety and
trust in the therapeutic relationship to contact or express the fear-laden beliefs, needs, or
longings against which his hypermasculine persona defends.
Female psychotherapists working with these men may choose to offer an example
of or to model for them a female who refuses to fit into a hypermasculine paradigm and
yet does not appear challenged or offended by her clients’ thoughts and actions around
sex. As hypermasculine behavior relates to fearing the Feminine, challenging such a
client too quickly may cause a therapeutic rupture. Male psychotherapists working with
men who engage in hypermasculine sexual behavior may choose to offer an example of a
confidently nonhypermasculine male.
Psychotherapists that wish to include a classical Jungian view in their treatment
may explore a client’s persona with them and the source of the expectations to which it
has adapted. Treatment may include work around the client’s psychological and anima
development and build toward moving past overidentification with the masculine
principle. Treatment may include normalizing the insecurities that accompany the fear of
the Feminine.
Chapter IV
Summary and Conclusions
Chapter III included an examination of the relationship between hypermasculine
sexual behavior and the path of psychological development. Research findings
demonstrated a link between a fear of the transforming potential of the archetypal
Feminine and hypermasculine sexual behavior, such as the objectification of women and
callous attitudes toward sex. This chapter includes a summary of the findings and
conclusions from the hermeneutic research, its contribution to the field of psychology,
and suggestions regarding avenues of further research on the subject.
Summary
In examining hypermasculinity, it is necessary to explore the masculine and
feminine principles. The masculine principle involves willpower and action and plays a
crucial role in separating from the dependency of childhood (Campbell, 1991; Sullivan,
1989). Hypermasculinity involves overidentifying with stereotypical masculine traits and
rejecting anything perceived to be associated with femininity. A patriarchal,
hypermasculine perspective becomes what Woodman (2004) described as a “parody of
itself” (para. 16). Overidentification with the masculine that cherishes actions has served
the evolution of civilization. However, authors such as Zabriskie (1990) have asserted the
societal need to return to honoring the feminine (p. 270).
Instead of honoring the feminine, hypermasculine individuals equate the principle
with weakness and champion masculinity; displaying masculine traits has been shown to
41
be an attempt to signify a superior, stronger status (Mosher & Tomkins, 1988). As a
dimension of hypermasculinity shown to be prevalent in U.S. society, hypermasculine
sexual behavior revolves around attitudes toward sexuality and gender. From a Jungian
perspective, behavior largely results from unconscious content interacting with the
external environment. In this way, an adaptive outward persona develops split off from
unconscious complexes that have an effect on conscious thoughts, feelings, and actions.
A son’s mother complex is his first experience of the feminine and has a great effect on
his perception of his masculinity (Jung, 1925-1957/1982, pp. 113-114).
The child’s experience of his mother as omnipotent contains the roots of the fear
of the feminine (Neumann, 1959/1994). A male’s later experience with females is
affected by his relationship to his anima, the unconscious device that contains archetypal
feminine images (Jung, 1954/1969, p. 198). A man’s relationship with his anima, which
is the vehicle for communication between the conscious and unconscious, is linked to his
mother complex. Development of the relational qualities of the anima denotes a transition
from objectifying females out of fear to understanding of females as complex individuals
(Sharp, 1988); thus the anima affects a man’s thoughts and actions around sexuality.
Hypermasculine sexual behaviors such as treating sex as a conquest, the sexual
objectification of women, and the devaluation of females and femininity are related to the
common error of equating the masculine and feminine principles with the male and
female genders. This error and patriarchal beliefs about identity and status influence the
hypermasculine man to adopt the differentiating energy of the masculine and forsake the
connecting energy of the feminine. This action distances an individual from mature
relationships with females (Neumann, 1959/1994; Shalit, 2002; Sullivan, 1989).
42
Psychological development around gender and sexuality includes moving on from
an exclusively heroic, masculine identity (Sharp, 1988). This development involves the
ability to empathize with others, and the anima has been shown to be the vehicle for such
psychic evolution. The threat of this transformation to masculine identity creates a fear of
the anima and—because anima images are projected onto females—a fear of women.
Devaluing the feminine is often a response to this fear (Neumann, 1959/1944)
Hypermasculine sexual behavior such as the sexual objectification of women was
revealed to be an attempt to depotentiate the value of women in a response to fear.
Research demonstrated that treating sex as a conquest is a narcissistic attempt to achieve
power and feel adoration in the face of a fear of inadequacy (Horney, 1967). Horney
stated that many men hold a fear of inadequacy around sexual relationships with women
and may overcompensate for this fear with hypermasculine sexual behavior.
Conclusions
Although beliefs and behaviors are thought to be the product of rational
processing of external sensations, an understanding of the dynamics of the psyche makes
it evident that unconscious complexes are largely responsible for what an individual
thinks, feels, and believes. Hypermasculine sexual behavior may feel instinctual and be
well rationalized for the individual who engages in it, yet the thoughts and feelings
behind the behavior appear to have roots in unconscious processes. The social prevalence
of hypermasculine sexual behavior allows those who engage in it to avoid questioning
their perspectives around gender and sexuality.
A male’s relationship with his anima affects his thoughts, feelings, and actions
around sexuality and gender. From a classical Jungian viewpoint, psychological
43
development around sexuality and gender includes the integration and development of
the anima. Anima integration leads to the development of relational qualities including
empathy and the capacity to value that which is other than self. Hypermasculine sexual
behavior represents an immature relationship with the anima and is a result of arrested
psychological development.
A male’s fear of the feminine is constructed from an early understanding of his
mother’s omnipotence, the challenge presented by the integration of the anima, and the
mystery of the sexuality of the opposite gender. The hypermasculine man responds to this
fear with behavior that devalues, depotentiates, and disparages the feminine. This
behavior overcompensates for a man’s fear of his inadequacy vis-à-vis the feminine by
asserting power, control, and status over women and his anima. Sadly, this reaction to his
fear keeps a man stuck in an immature masculine identity that becomes stereotypical and
potentially harmful in its severance from and hostility toward the feminine.
Contribution of the Research to the Field of Psychology
The findings of this thesis demonstrate the relevance of the classical Jungian
concept of the anima and its role in a male’s psychological development to understanding
hypermasculine behavior. From this perspective, men who fail to give up heroic
masculinity to develop a relationship to the feminine principle suffer from an immature
relationship to the anima. This relationship is demonstrated by thoughts and actions
consistent with hypermasculine sexual behaviors such as sexually objectifying women
and treating sex as a conquest.
The research also speaks to the power of overcompensation. Behavior that is
constructed to appear powerful, dominant, and confident is actually based on fear,
44
inadequacy, and anxiety. Work with men who engage in hypermasculine sexual behavior
in clinical settings would likely be slow to address this issue. Psychotherapists may
benefit from offering patience and empathy before bluntly addressing such strong
overcompensating behavior.
Avenues for Further Research
A male initially experiences the feminine through his mother, and this relationship
affects his thoughts, beliefs, and actions regarding sexuality and gender. As
hypermasculine sexual behavior indicates an immature relationship with the feminine,
research around the conscious thoughts of hypermasculine men regarding their mothers
would be worthy of exploration. Research focusing on the relationship between a mother
and her son may add further understanding of the subject. Studies may compare and
contrast hypermasculine and nonhypermasculine men regarding relationships with their
mothers. How are a hypermasculine man’s conscious view of his mother, attachment
needs, and unconscious fears of dependency interrelated and connected to his
unconscious projections onto females? Other possible areas of study may include
comparing and contrasting a mother’s thoughts, feelings, and actions toward sex and
gender with those of her son. Research is also needed to explore the effect of a boy’s
father on his masculine identity and relationship with the feminine.
In addressing hypermasculine sexual behavior, this research has not looked at its
relationship with sexual physical aggression and assault. However, it is difficult to
separate the concept of sexual assault and many aspects of a hypermasculine sexual
ideology. Research exploring the relationship between hypermasculine sexual behavior
and sexual aggression and assault would be valuable.
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