The Persona Carl Jung
The persona is the mask through which we interact with society. It is the personality we portray onto others.
“Fundamentally the persona is nothing real, it is a compromise between an individual and society as to what a man should appear to be”Carl Jung
As we pop from the womb and begin our negotiation with life, our personality is being frayed and pulled in a whole manner of directions for the purpose of socialisation.
In life, certain behaviours are rewarded just as other behaviours are punished. As we grow both physically and mentally our experience of socialisation comes to determine our various persona. An individual will have many personas. This is not for the purposes of being ‘fake’ or to ‘impress’, rather it is simply the consequence of having undergone years of certain behaviours being encouraged alongside certain behaviours being shunned.
To fit into society (not all are the same, cultures and ages create different standards for socialisation) we are taught all sorts of ‘social behaviour’.
Here we shall look at…
- What Forms The Persona
- The Persona & Individuation
- Dangers Of The Persona
What Forms The Persona
The persona is unwittingly formed by the punishment and re-enforcement of behaviours. One’s personality is not realised in everyday interactions. You present the ‘best’ or most ‘appropriate’ self for different situations towards others and the world.
The persona exists so we have a chance to thrive in society. This is its ultimate function. There are certain societal norms and expectations that need to be met. If you should not meet these you would not be accepted as a member of society. Manners, courtesy, traditions, edicate, these are not a natural phenomena because they are instead learned behaviour.
For this reason, much of our experience gets relegated to the unconscious as we grow. As explained through Jung’s explanation of the psyche, our full personality is the combination of both everything conscious as well as unconscious. Our persona is the lens through which we present ourselves to the world and therefore also the first barrier from which experience is processed.
The Persona & Individuation
Individuation is the completeness of the personality. It is the integration of everything which is conscious, including the complexity of different persona, as well as all components suppressed in both the personal and collective unconscious.
The formation of a different persona is necessary for an individual who wishes to thrive within society. This is true because the person who cannot regulate their behaviour cannot get along with others.
There is, however, a time when one must shed the false wrappings of the persona. Get rid of the impulses regulated by your persona and embrace the true nature of your personality. This is a fundamental step towards the path towards individuation which Carl Jung thought was the most important psychological feat any individual could go through.
To shed the false wrappings of the persona means to realise and analyse what it is about your persona that misaligns with your personality. What concessions are you willing to make with society? To go down this road is to come face to face with your shadow, a repository for all behaviour that was shunned throughout your socialisation. You will discover with your shadow that equal to your highest feats, is a depth equal to your worst sin’s potential.
“No tree, it is said, can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell”Carl Jung
Dangers Of The Persona
The persona becomes dangerous when one allows their persona to dominate their actual personality.
This is clearly identifiable at the group level. When a person over identifies with their persona they run the risk of losing touch with their base personality. Therefore become malleable to whatever expectations their social group sets upon them.
Since the persona is defined through the lens of fitting into society, the dangers of the persona become clear when you consider how foldable an individual separated from their personality is.
Danger is afoot when your persona is defined by its ability to be ‘liked’. The persona requires complexity. It requires an equal push to pull. The person who loses touch with themselves and becomes enveloped solely in their persona no longer has a moral base. They are completely subject to the group defined persona.
This partly explains the historical repetition of group conformity where the group becomes more important than the individual.
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