Relationship to Parents
The most basic fact of human life is that a male cell and a female cell must unite in order to produce the organism of the future child. In the first stage of embryonic development no sexual differentiation appears. The embryo has the potential to become either a male or a female child. As sexual organs begin to appear, rudiments of organs of both sexes are found. Then, normally, one set of organs — let us say, the male ones — develop, and this development goes on after birth, culminating in puberty. The boy will be able to play his male role in the process of life, reproduction.
This does not mean, however, that what constituted the female part of the embryo before the embryo became defined sexually as a male child has utterly disappeared. All that was in the original fecundated ovum which became this male child remains in the child's nature. The female elements remain in a latent state, yet they are there in potentiality — and they will, to some extent at least, be developed after birth producing "psychic structures" which play a most important function in the psychological and social life of the growing child. The male factors in the boy develop physiologically and are exteriorized in physical organs; but the feminine components also seek adequate avenues of development in the interior realm of the psychic nature of the boy.
The interior psychic process of growth is, however, far more complex than the exterior maturation of the boy's sex organs. The development of the sex organs is pushed, as it were, by the biological and instinctual drive of the human species seeking to reproduce itself from generation to generation. But the "counter-sexual" elements in the boy's personality can only mature normally, or at least primarily, through a close and steady psychological relationship with his mother. The growth of these counter-sexual elements is not energized by the evolutionary life-force. It depends essentially upon the personal relationship the boy has with persons of the opposite sex, and upon the play of interior psychic energies stimulated and oriented by these relationships. Every human being has a twofold life — an exterior and social life in which he or she can act mainly on the basis of his or her sex; and every individual has an interior and psychic life which is dominated (whether he is aware of it or not) by the counter-sexual elements in his total person. The exterior and social life develops, usually, under the relentless pressure of society — just as the development of the sex organs is impelled by the biological drive of life. It must develop, or else the person cannot exist at all. But the interior and psychic life may remain largely latent and undeveloped; the bare facts of existence do not require it, yet if it is not developed the personality can only be dull and animal-like or superficial and empty; or, if the psychic nature develops under nearly unbearable, thwarting or perverting pressures the personality tends to become neurotic or psychotic, and sooner or later the health of the body itself is crucially affected.
The most important factor in this interior psychic nature is the imagination. Imagination is to the psychic life what sex is to the outer physically-operating life. By imagination I mean here the capacity to produce psychic and mental "images," to build a world of "fantasy" — in the sense in which Carl Jung uses the word. This world can be rich and filled with creative potency; it can also be twisted and somber, depressed and ugly or even monstrous. In and through this inner world the counter-sexual nature of the individual seeks to project itself. In the boy, it will be the latent feminine part of his original bi-polar, male-female, organism which will operate. It operates as what Jung has called the "anima". In the girl, it is her latent masculinity which will be active; her "animus".
The anima of the boy develops first of all under the stimulation of his relationship with his mother. The animus of the girl is colored from the beginning by the character of her relationship with her father. Later, some other woman (often an older sister) may substitute herself to the boy's mother, as the most important factor in the building of the boy's psychic structures — his anima. Likewise if the relationship of a girl to her father is ineffectual or negated by some outer circumstances (divorce, death, etc.) another "paternal" person (or an older brother) may take the place of the father. In any case it is through his or her relationship to a parent of opposite sex (or an individual substituting for this parent) that the boy or the girl will develop the inner psychic part of his nature, and the imagination which is the very "blood-stream" of this psychic nature.
Our psychic nature operates through the production of images. Some of these have only a strictly personal meaning and validity. Others, particularly in the case of truly "creative" individuals, are projected into the collective life of the community; they may be embodied in works of art, scientific theories, or philosophical and religious systems. Indeed, what we call "culture" is the gradual accumulation and synthesis of all the images, ideals, visions and dreams which have been produced and expressed by individuals, and which the community in which these individuals lived had found collectively meaningful. Culture is thus essentially the product of the counter-sexual nature of human beings and is born out of the operation of those human energies which were not required to deal with the practical physical necessities of man's outer living. It is born out of the physically and sexually unexpressed part of man's total bi-polar nature from the interior and psychic femininity of men and the interior and psychic masculinity of women. It is born of human imagination. And the character, intensity and quality of this imagination is conditioned by the nature and significance of the relationships between men and women.
By permission of Leyla Rudhyar Hill.
Copyright © 1971 by Dane Rudhyar.
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