(A RESPONSE TO The Emerald podcast: The Revolution Will Not Be Psychologized.)
Viewing Life as Anima: Antidote to Therapy-Speak in Popular Culture?
..our notions condition the nature of our experiences.
— JAMES HILLMAN
What can or should we view through the lens of psychology? This was the subject of the recent article in The New York Times, “The Problem with Letting Therapy Speak Invade Everything.”
The Emerald Podcast’s episode, “The Revolution will not be Psychologzied,” further explored what our world might look like as more people come to respect anima as the incredible life force it is – following our more intuitive wisdom and respecting the natural world. And part 2 just came out last week!
Anima can be seen as the animating force of any living being — anything not inanimate. The term represents the idea that everything can be seen as interconnected and part of a larger whole, and there appears to be an intrinsic connection between all living beings and the universe itself.
The Emerald podcast described our loss of spiritual vocabulary in favor of a psychological one. The podcast asserted, “Psychology vernacular has been adopted en masse — and also weaponized en masse — so that simple disagreements in viewpoint or worldview are now called out as psychological pathologies. Activist movements have abandoned the spiritual vocabulary of Martin Luther King and Gandhi and the Dalai Lama in favor of outing narcissists and addressing collective traumas.”
So, could the anima concept hold potential to profoundly impact our understanding of the world and our place within it?
Anima as Consciousness and Aliveness
The concept of “anima mundi,” or “world soul,” is an idea that has been present in various philosophical and spiritual traditions throughout history. The terms “anima,” “soul,” and “psyche” have shaped our understanding of what it means to be alive and conscious.
In some traditions, the anima is seen as a divine force that imbues all living things with a spark of the divine. In others, it is seen as a more abstract idea that represents the interconnectedness of all things in the universe.
By recognizing the interconnectedness of all living beings, we can develop a greater sense of empathy and compassion towards others and ourselves. We can also cultivate a deeper appreciation for the natural world and our role in preserving it.
The Therapeutic Perspective
Carl Jung presented anima as an individual’s truest inner self — an unconscious part of personality and also as the feminine part of a male’s personality. His student Psychologist James Hillman, authored a book called, “ANIMA: An Anatomy of a Personified Notion.” Hillman described anima as “the breath of life,” or “the soul of the world.”
From a therapeutic perspective, the concept of anima mundi can be particularly helpful in treating issues related to disconnection and isolation. By recognizing our connection to others and the larger universe, we can develop a greater sense of belonging and purpose, which can be crucial for promoting mental health and well-being.
Furthermore, exploring and integrating the anima can also help individuals develop a greater sense of empathy and understanding towards others. This can be especially helpful in attachment therapy, where the goal is to cultivate healthy and secure attachments with others.
Anima as Path to Secure Attachment?
Overall, the concept of anima offers a profound and powerful perspective on the nature of reality and our place within it. Understanding and integrating the anima is an essential part of psychological growth and can have a significant impact on one’s ability to form healthy and secure attachments with others.
By recognizing the interconnectedness of all living beings, we can develop a greater sense of meaning and purpose in our lives, which can be transformative both personally and collectively.
An appreciation of anima can help us gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and our relationships.
By doing so, could we develop a more integrated sense of self and forge stronger connections with others?