The work of Erich Neumann




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Different routes

In order to construct a Self, a boy must take a different step than a girl. From the symbiotic bliss with the mother, he must start to recognize her as not being the same as he. He discovers: "That being over there, which envelops and nourishes me, is of a different kind than I am."
In other words: Within the boy, an inevitable process of breaking up the unity of this primal relationship. Otherwise, he will not be able to acknowledge himself and develop masculine behavior.
By expressing principles like separation, opposing himself to things and taking a stand for himself, the masculine Self defines and shapes itself. In this way, a foundation is laid in the soul’s masculine polarity for a tendency towards separation. At the same time, this serves as the basis for a primal Self-awareness in the masculine Self.
It leads to an increased solidity of the masculine Self. This enables it to fulfil an important function in the process of masculine and feminine interaction.


Male functioning

The sexual act of the adult male is an individual undertaking, focused on a non-Self, for which the Self’s opposing character is a basic requirement. At the same time, in a social sense, isolation of the masculine element and alienation are some of the phenomena accompanying this process.


Psychological castration

If a boy does not succeed in differentiating himself from the mother, that is, defining his Self in relation to a non-Self, then this will lead, apart from various forms of impotence, to so-called psychological castration, showing up in socially insufficient behaviour, according to Neumann.
There will be an alienation from the creative impulse (on all levels) that is always connected to the manifestation, or rotation, of the Self. In the case of psychological castration, there is no creative tension in the personality (just as there is no physical tension after bodily castration). There is a lack of power to break away from one’s clan and hold one’s own in the outside world. The person is unable to take a stand for himself. The man remains dependent on the mirror of his mother, or his environment.
Psychological castration, a lack of rotation of the Self, thus leads to a satellite existence (16.2).



The masculine Self begins his Self-definition through separation and denial. Initially, this process also alienates him from himself, from life. Only much later will he be able to recognize his uniqueness and stand by it. This will lead to the further development of his individuality.
In boys, this process of breaking free takes place step by step, and it will often be repeated in different stages of life on a deeper level.



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