The work of Erich Neumann




Page 3 of 5


Feminine functioning

For young girls, these breaking points do not apply, initially.
To acknowledge herself as a girl, she does not need to break up her primal relationship with the mother. On the contrary, the feeling of ‘us’ can remain entirely intact. The young girl can physically mature, grow into a woman and mother, while still remaining in an unbroken, symbiotic unity with the mother. In that case, the young woman may function as a mother and sexual partner, but not as an opponent to the masculine aspect.


Abduction of maidens

In a young girl’s process of separation from the mother, the masculine Self plays an important role. This is a recurrent theme in all kinds of myths about abduction of maidens and imprisoned princesses. The orgastic flush serves as its vehicle. This transmutation transports the young woman irrevocably into a different field of experience. Initially, the masculine Self now acquires a monopoly position, not just in traditional marriages, but also in the interaction between the masculine and feminine polarities within our own soul.


The mother-in-law

The mother of the girl, through their symbiotic relationship, then acquires a marked influence on her daughter’s married life, as the hidden opponent of the son-in-law. The jokes about mothers-in-law that abound in all times and countries, reflect the actual fact of this eternal triangle.
Most young women have not yet detached themselves from their bond with the mother. This gives the mother a huge background influence in a sphere that really belongs to the intimacy of a mature marriage.


The role of parent or caretaker

The physical gender of the person dealing with the infant is of less importance. The mirror function of this first contact evokes the infant’s first Self-image, and this mirror function is always a Lunar function, a re-acting, as is the nature of the Moon. The opposing function only comes into play in the parent-child relationship when the child starts playing football or draughts with Daddy (or Mummy) and wants to win; in other words, when it takes a stand for itself, becomes an opponent, and is able to hold its own in a Saturnian sense. 



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