Demystifying The Animus and Anima – The Eros and Logos

The animus and anima are definitely the most difficult component of Jungian Psychology because to fully grasp them you need knowledge of every bit of Jung’s work, and that’s why the amount of nonsense around this topic is off the charts.

That’s why for this article, I’ll assume that you understand the basics of:


The first thing we have to get out of the way is that when we’re discussing animus and anima we’re not discussing gender, we can’t equate anima with women and animus with men. It’s important to remember that Jung wasn’t an essentialist, he had an empirical approach. This means that he didn’t “create” these concepts out of nowhere, rather he found these archetypal images following the comparative method after studying a plethora of myths, religions, cultures, and dreams. He never stated how a man or woman should act, this would be just ridiculous. Archetypes transcend the personal and individual level, and of course gender.

Let’s quickly recap what an Archetype is:

Archetypes are an organizing principle and exist as a potential to experience something psychologically and physiologically in a similar and definite way. Archetypes are like a blueprint, a structure, or a pattern and all four functions are required to apprehend it. They will evoke a typical thought pattern, a definite set of emotions, typical physical sensations, and definite fantasies.

Let’s remember that archetypes don’t exist, their true nature is actually irrepresentable, that’s why Jung refers to them as psychoid. What our conscious mind can perceive is a set of ideas and images that allude to this organizing principle. A great example is the Tarot cards, they aren’t archetypes, but their symbols and archetypal images can allude to one. However, an archetype is empty, it’s just the potential to experience something, and only acquires a definite form when it’s projected and filled with experience.

Furthermore, archetypes lie in the unconscious realm, which means that they’re not accessible to our conscious mind and aren’t subject to our will. As Jung says in Volume 8, “Every archetype, when represented to the mind, is already conscious and therefore differs to an indeterminable extent from that which caused the representation. […] We must, however, constantly bear in mind that what we mean by “archetype” is in itself irrepresentable, but has effects which make visualizations of it possible, namely, the archetypal images and ideas”. V8 – §417

So we can’t “touch” archetypes but we can perceive their effects. If this concept isn’t clear to you, I strongly recommend reading this article on archetypes before continuing.

The Eros and Logos

Now that we’ve covered archetypes, we can finally explore the animus and anima. The first thing we have to get out of the way is that when we’re discussing these concepts we’re not discussing gender. We can’t equate anima with women and animus with men. We have to remember that Jung wasn’t an essentialist, he had an empirical approach. This means that he didn’t “create” these concepts out of nowhere, rather he found these archetypal images following the comparative method after studying a plethora of myths, religions, cultures, and dreams. He never stated how a man or woman should act, this would be just ridiculous. Archetypes transcend the personal and individual level, and of course gender.

Before we discuss the animus and anima we have to explore the concepts of Eros and Logos, because they’re the generating archetypal principles of the animus and anima. Jung “Regarded both concepts as intuitive ideas which cannot be defined accurately or exhaustively. From the scientific point of view this is regrettable, but from a practical one it has its value, since the two concepts mark out a field of experience which it is equally difficult to define” (C. G. Jung – V14 – §223).

These concepts cannot be grasped solely on an intellectual level, about half of the experience with the unconscious can be translated into words and theory, and the other half has to be lived and embodied. That’s why knowledge of myths and symbols, and real experience are essential to grasp its meaning. I’ll do my best to explain these ideas and point you in the right direction so you can organize your own experience.

The Eros and Logos:

“A descendent of Logos is Nous, the intellect, which has done away with the commingling of feeling, presentiment, and sensation. In contrast, the Logos contains this commingling. But it is not the product of such blending, or else it would be a lower animalistic psychic activity; yet it masters the blend, so that the four fundamental activities of the soul become subordinate to its principle. It is an independent principle of form that means understanding, insight, foresight, legislation, and wisdom. The figure of an old prophet is therefore a fitting allegory for this principle, since the prophetic spirit unites in itself all these qualities. In contrast, Eros is a principle that contains a commingling of all the fundamental activities of the soul just as much as it masters them, although its purpose is completely different. It is not form-giving but form-fulfilling; it is the wine that will be poured into the vessel; it is not the bed and direction of the stream but the impetuous water flowing in it. Eros is desire, longing, force, exuberance, pleasure, suffering. Where Logos is ordering and insistence, Eros is dissolution and movement. They are two fundamental psychic powers that form a pair of opposites, each one requiring the other” (C. G. Jung – The Red Book, p. 365).

To make things easier, Carl Jung immediately relates these archetypal principles with the Yin and Yang – where the extremes touch and convert into one another. They are the supreme pair of opposites that give the psyche its dynamism.

Here I’ve made a chart with all the qualities I could find so you can better visualize it:


  • Yin – The dark, cold, and moist.
  • The capacity to relate – Ambiguity.
  • Personal. 
  • Lunar character – Irrationality – Chthonic – Nature.
  • Openness – Receptiveness – Emptiness – Cyclical.
  • Desire, longing, force, exuberance, pleasure, suffering, dissolution, and movement.


  • Yang – The light, warm, and dry.
  • Discrimination – Judgment – Insight.
  • Impersonal – Detached – Equal Dignity.
  • Solar character – Rationality – Spiritual.
  • The principle of will and action – Linear.
  • Ordering, insistence, understanding, insight, foresight, legislation, and wisdom.

Although both principles need the four functions to be fully grasped as well as a union of conscious and unconscious qualities, for didactic purposes we can say that the Eros principle is more closely related to the irrational functions, namely sensation, and intuition. While the Logos is more closely related to the rational functions, namely thinking and feeling. One common mistake is to equate Logos with the thinking function and intellect, but to Jung, the feeling function is also rational, as it operates with categories and a clear scale of values used to make judgments, otherwise, we only have dry and unfruitful rationalism.

As for the Eros, we have to remember that irrational is extra rational, in other words, it has a way of functioning distinct from conscious experience and obeys its own laws. While thinking and feeling have clear categories of good and evil, in the unconscious the lines are blurred. A physical sensation and the symbolic images that arise from the unconscious don’t have any judgment attached to them, they’re pure experience, what places clear judgments is always the conscious mind.

That’s why Jung equates Logos with the Sun, as under this glaring light we can clearly see things separated from one another, and it’s possible to categorize, judge, and discriminate. It sees everything with equal dignity and from a position of detachment. That’s also why the Logos is more closely related to the mechanism of introversion, as it creates impersonal abstractions and creates separations. As Jung says, Logos is what allows a scientist to have a Religious concentration to the classification of lice, or to the different qualities of feces, to put it quite drastically as well as to counting the stars” (Barbara Hannah – The Animus, p. 124).

Now, we can equate the Eros principle with the moon, as under its mild light everything dissolves and starts to blend with one another, the lines are blurred, and instead of division, we start to see how things are related. That’s why the Eros is more closely related to the mechanism of extroversion, since it seeks to be merged with the objects. With Eros, everything is ambiguous and challenges our perception of good and evil. That’s why dealing with the figures from the unconscious is so difficult, as they obey the laws of nature. They’re always paradoxical and contact with them can either give or take life.

The Eros has a very personal quality and it’s about relatedness and reunion. It has an earthy and chthonic quality, it connects us with the five senses and the body, while the Logos is more abstract and about the spiritual realm. The Logos is about knowledge, while the Eros is about relationships. The Logos is the principle of will and action, it wants to maintain and conserve things. While the Eros is about openness, receptivity, and emptiness. The Eros desires and longs, it’s dynamic and about movement, and that’s why it’s also the principle of dissolution and transformation. The Logos gives form and shapes, it’s the vessel which is filled by the Eros. The Logos is the demarcation of a river, while the Eros is the very flow of water.

Lastly, the Eros is the principle of individuation because it’s about desire, and we only desire because something is absent, we don’t have it. So the Eros makes us long for what we can become, for our individuation, as the Eros can turn two opposing truths into one. Suffering is what we pay for this transformation because we have to sacrifice our current personality, our illusions, and the stories we’ve been telling ourselves for the sake of a new personality. Enduring the paradox is always a very laborious and lengthy process. Finally, the Eros is what bounds us to situations in which we have to face the reality of ourselves, usually, they are very painful, but from these experiences and many times mistakes, the possibility of a new conscience arises. The Eros connects us with something deeper within ourselves, it links us with the experience of god. That’s why an unconscious Eros is equated with the will to power which is contrary to love and promotes separation and destroys the connection with our soul and relationships.

The Animus and Anima

I started by saying that we can’t equate the animus and Logos with men and the Eros and anima with women because these are psychological and archetypal principles that go beyond gender. These are forces that have been present since the beginning of mankind and their functioning can be found across all cultures in the syzygies. That said, we have to remember that the unconscious is the receptacle of all human experience, both biological and cultural. During the history of mankind, the Logos was projected upon men and the Eros upon women. This means that the conscious mind of men is identified with the Logos and the Eros is unconscious, as for women, their conscious mind is identified with Eros and the Logos is unconscious.

As Barbara Hannah says, “It is just as possible to live one’s life by signposts that exist in relationships as it is to live by the signposts in discriminating knowledge” (Barbara Hannah – The Animus, p. 122). We also have to remember that the nature of the unconscious is to be personified, so in the unconscious of men we tend to find the image of a woman that symbolizes the Eros principle, and in the unconscious of women, we tend to find the image of a man that symbolizes the Logos principle.

Why is that? … Well, that’s a metaphysical question that’s impossible to have a definite answer. There’s an amalgamation of psychological predispositions, biology, and culture. How much each of these components contributed to it it’s impossible to determine. Perhaps there’s an alternative reality where things are switched, but in ours, that’s how things have been operating. Furthermore, never forget that the Eros and Logos are not equated with gender, that said, in theory, it’s possible to have a man with a conscious Eros and a woman with a conscious Logos. Personally, I’ve never seen it. I had the pleasure of working with both homosexual and bisexual men and women, and their psyches always revealed the same psychodynamics and archetypal images.

Again, we’re not discussing gender, so the anima can be projected upon men and the animus can be projected upon women. In fact, both the animus and anima are responsible for most of our projections regardless of gender and this happens all of the time. If you’re unsure, the easiest way to find out is to observe your own dreams and learn how the animus and anima operate. In my personal experience, sexual preferences don’t change that. However, we always have to see how this is operating on an individual level, so this remains an open question and I don’t claim to have the truth, I can only share my experience.

The Animus and Anima Personified

This identification with Logos or Eros will generate a counterpart in the unconscious, and we’ll be able to find it personified, that’s why the animus and anima function like complexes, or as “autonomous personalities”.

“I have often been accused of personifying the anima and animus as mythology does, but this accusation would be justified only if it could be proved that I concretize these concepts in a mythological manner for psychological use. I must declare once and for all that the personification is not an invention of mine, but is inherent in the nature of the phenomena. It would be unscientific to overlook the fact that the anima is a psychic, and therefore a personal, autonomous system. None of the people who make the charge against me would hesitate for a second to say, “I dreamed of Mr. X,” whereas, strictly speaking, he dreamed only of a representation of Mr. X. The anima is nothing but a representation of the personal nature of the autonomous system in question. What the nature of this system is in a transcendental sense, that is, beyond the bounds of experience, we cannot know” (C. G. Jung – V13 – §61).

Always take into account the notion of psychic reality, for it’s the only way of truly experiencing the unconscious and correctly organizing this experience without falling prey to metaphysics. These figures stem from the collective unconscious, so only a portion of it can become conscious and integrated, what’s possible is to have a dialogue with them and maintain an open conscious attitude that allows them to function properly, because they will always behave like an autonomous complex. Now, it’s a good time to remember that the conscious and unconscious have a compensatory/ complementary relationship, and the unconscious will always react to the conscious attitude. Furthermore, the animus and anima constitute a pair of opposites with the persona. So just as the persona is the function of relationship with the external world, the animus and anima will be the function of relationship with the inner world.

The Persona Compensation

“The persona is a complicated system of relations between the individual consciousness and society, fittingly enough a kind of mask, designed on the one hand to make a definite impression upon others, and, on the other, to conceal the true nature of the individual. That the latter function is superfluous could be maintained only by one who is so identified with his persona that he no longer knows himself; and that the former is unnecessary could only occur to one who is quite unconscious of the true nature of his fellows” (C. G. Jung – V7 – §305).

The persona always invites us to maintain an image of perfection, to play our social role, and to do exactly what is demanded and expected of us. In this process, we lose our sense of individuality and give in to external pressure. We become our titles, and our careers, and identify with labels, gender roles, and conventions. In this process, we lose touch with the inner reality, and the more we identify with the persona, the less conscious we are about the depths of our being. This creates a split, and the animus and anima rebel against us and start to pull the strings in a negative way because these are essential qualities of our personality that aren’t being expressed.

Of course, the persona is not wholly bad, it allows us to navigate the external world and live in society. The problem starts when you’re just your persona, everyone knows that guy who is extremely likable and friendly with everyone, and no one imagines that he could hurt a fly. But suddenly, we discover that he’s terrible with his wife and kids. This tends to happen a lot with public figures and with people who have a very social role and preach high moral standards. The more perfect you try to be, the more you invite an unconscious reaction. As Jung says, this persona identification always leads to a neurosis and this artificial personality is punished by bad moods, affects, phobias, obsessive ideas, backslidings, vices, timidity, and even a limp sexuality (culminating in impotence).

This happens especially with men who give in to the macho stereotype:

“The persona, the ideal picture of a man as he should be, is inwardly compensated by feminine weakness, and as the individual outwardly plays the strong man, so he becomes inwardly a woman, i.e., the anima, for it is the anima that reacts to the persona. But because the inner world is dark and invisible to the extraverted consciousness, and because a man is all the less capable of conceiving his weaknesses the more he is identified with the persona, the persona’s counterpart, the anima, remains completely in the dark and is at once projected, so that our hero comes under the heel of his wife’s slipper. If this results in a considerable increase of her power, she will acquit herself none too well. She becomes inferior, thus providing her husband with the welcome proof that it is not he, the hero, who is inferior in private, but his wife. In return the wife can cherish the illusion, so attractive to many, that at least she has married a hero, unperturbed by her own uselessness. This little game of illusion is often taken to be the whole meaning of life” (C. G. Jung – V7 – §309).

I’m talking mainly about men here, but in reality both the animus and anima are especially poisonous when you try to hold an ideal of perfection, when you try to have a supreme morality, and when you give in to stereotypes. In that sense, cultural ideals of what a man or woman should be are always detrimental to our psychological development. These inner figures always invite us to discover our individuality and develop our unique way of being.

The Animus and Anima as Complexes

Jung “Understands these figures to be function complexes behaving in ways compensatory to the outer personality, that is, behaving as if they were inner personalities and exhibiting the characteristics which are lacking in the outer, and manifest, conscious personality. In a man, these are feminine characteristics, in a woman, masculine. Normally both are always present, to a certain degree, but find no place in the person’s outwardly directed functioning because they disturb his outer adaptation, his established ideal image of himself” (Emma Jung – The Animus and Anima, p. 3).

Again, the animus and anima are the ultimate compensation for our conscious attitude and they have all the qualities that can complement our personality and make us whole. However, this process obviously is not easy, as the interaction with these figures always threatens to destroy our conscious attitude, as they hold such opposing values. We need to cultivate a strong and flexible ego to hold this paradox so as to produce a new synthesis of our personality and advance in our individuation journey.

In that way, both the animus and anima become psychopomps, which means that they act as bridges between personal and impersonal, and between conscious and unconscious. In other words, they stop interfering with our daily lives and relationships and help us reach a fine balance between conscious and unconscious, by bringing to our conscious mind the contents that can balance our personality.

Emma Jung says that there’s three main things that condition the animus and anima:

“However, the character of these figures is not determined only by the latent sexual characteristics they represent; it is conditioned by the experience each person has had in the course of his or her life with representatives of the other sex, and also by the collective image of woman carried in the psyche of the individual man, and the collective image of man carried by the woman. These three factors coalesce to form a quantity which is neither solely an image nor solely experience, but an entity not organically coordinated in its activity with the other psychic functions. It behaves as if it were a law unto itself, interfering in the life of the individual as if it were an alien element; sometimes the interference is helpful, sometimes disturbing, if not actually destructive. We have, therefore, every cause to concern ourselves with these psychic entities and arrive at an understanding of how they influence us” (Emma Jung – The Animus and Anima, p. 3).

Remember that the psyche is historic, it doesn’t exist in a vacuum, so there’s a mixture of biological tendencies, archetypal predispositions, as well as individual experiences that configure the animus and anima. Also, the parental complexes play a great role. In men, the father complex serves as a basis for the persona and the mother complex as a basis for the anima. While in women, the mother complex serves as a basis for the persona and the father complex as a basis for the animus.

Consequently, what happens is that we absorb certain patterns from the relationship with the parents and they become like a blueprint about how to behave in the world and how to relate with the animus and anima. That’s why it’s so important to understand the mother and father complex before the animus and anima, luckily we already covered that in the mother and father complex guide.

The Animus and Anima Function

“If I were to attempt to put in a nutshell the difference between man and woman in this respect, i.e., what it is that characterizes the animus as opposed to the anima, I could only say this: as the anima produces moods, so the animus produces opinions; and as the moods of a man issue from a shadowy background, so the opinions of a woman rest on equally unconscious prior assumptions”. (C. G. Jung – V7 – 331).

In a woman, the Logos will have the function of providing true insight, which aids the woman in crafting their own particulate worldview instead of operating with prejudices and prior assumptions that tend to destroy their relationships. It gives the woman a connection with the spiritual realm, inspiration, and drive to go after what she wants. While in the man, the anima has mainly the function to give him consciousness of his own emotional life, value system, insight about his relationships, and true purpose in life. Both these figures are also related to creativity and everything that can embellish life and our relationships.

An interesting observation here is that in ancient times the anima and animus were projected upon the gods, they had their place in people’s lives. Nowadays, most people don’t have a connection with their inner world and cultivate their spirituality, this exacerbates how much the animus and anima are projected in relationships, and this creates compulsions and toxicity because you expect the other person to give you your own sense of purpose, meaning, and spiritual connection. You expect the other person to be a divine entity and when they don’t correspond, because no human being can, chaos ensues. The animus and anima invite us to understand and connect with our souls and cultivate our unique sense of spirituality.

Lastly, Jung says that the technical term for the animus and anima is the inferior function, however, we tend to find them personified, making the animus and anima the empirical observation of the inferior function. That’s why it’s also important to make a link with typology as the animus and anima will acquire the opposite qualities of our main function. If you’re a thinking type it will acquire the qualities of feeling, and vice versa. If you’re an intuitive type, it will acquire the qualities of sensation, and vice versa. The same thing goes for introversion and extraversion.

Rafael Krüger – Jungian Therapist

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