According to the psychologist Carl G. Jung, the anima is the complementary female element within a man's unconscious. The
anima represents what is considered traditionally feminine traits, such as gentleness, empathy, and nurturing, that men can
exhibit. The anima also serves as his conception of womanhood: what he considers the ideal woman, physically and mentally,
to be. This image is only an archetype and, although a woman may conform outwardly to it, it does not reflect her own inward
The anima image is shaped by the contacts a man has with women throughout his lifetime. The first and most important of
these contacts is the one with his mother. The influence of the mother upon the anima is based not only in how she acts, but
how he feels those actions are significant. The mother image forms the basis of the anima and is projected upon all women
the man feels attracted to during his lifetime.
The image of womanhood presented by the anima is an archetype and, for this reason, has changed little over the centuries.
The anima is often seen as a young woman, but one with experience and wisdom beyond her years. She is connected with earth
or water and can possess great power. She is two-sided and possesses a light and a dark aspect. These aspects correspond to
qualities that women may possess or to types of women. The anima's light side is the pure, the good, the noble and loving;
a goddess. The anima's dark side is deceitful, wicked, and seductive; a witch, prostitute, or seductress. The dark side presents
itself the most in men who mistreat women.
Jung considers the anima to be the soul of a man in the sense that she is a part of his personality. She has a spiritual
value and is projected not only upon living women, but on goddesses and other female spiritual figures. She is life's chaotic
urge, the creative drive, destruction, love, and despair.