Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Another of Jung's archetypes of the unconscious is the persona. This is the aspect on the individual which is presented to the outer world. The persona is thought of as a mask behind which is hidden one's less presentable characteristics. The interaction with the outer world is transacted by the persona. This is exhibited in an artificial and superficial level of relationship which prevents individuals from making deep or real connections with others.

Here is a quote from C G Jung in
"The Relations between the Ego and the Unconscious" (1928), in CW 7: Two Essays on Analytical Psychology. (Page 305): "The persona is a complicated system of relations between individual consciousness and society, fittingly enough a kind of mask, designed on the one hand to make a definite impression upon others, and, on the other, to conceal the true nature of the individual." More quotes are available at this website.

Carl Rogers developed person-centered therapy as a means of connecting with the real person hidden beneath the superficial persona. By not hiding behind his own persona or being distracted by the client's persona, he subverted defense mechanisms which hinder therapy.

Quoting from the Wiki site:
"Rogers suggested that the incongruent individual, who is always on the defensive and cannot be open to all experiences, is not functioning ideally and may even be malfunctioning. They work hard at maintaining/protecting their self concept. Because their lives are not authentic this is a difficult task and they are under constant threat. They deploy defense mechanisms to achieve this. He describes two mechanisms: distortion and denial. Distortion occurs when the individual perceives a threat to their self concept. They distort the perception until it fits their self concept."

There are several ways in which Blake uses psychological constructs similar to the persona to delineate the multiplicity of psychic phenomena. One is his use of 'states' as passing stages through which man proceeds along his journey. The states must be discarded if the Identity is to be achieved.

Milton, PLATE 32 [35], (E 132)
"Distinguish therefore States from Individuals in those States.
States Change: but Individual Identities never change nor cease:
You cannot go to Eternal Death in that which can never Die.
Satan & Adam are States Created into Twenty-seven Churches
And thou O Milton art a State about to be Created
Called Eternal Annihilation that none but the Living shall
Dare to enter: & they shall enter triumphant over Death
And Hell & the Grave! States that are not, but ah! Seem to be."

Blake also creates a scenario in which man is prevented from connection from his inner self, as he is when the persona acts a mask behind which a person hides. Blake uses the Emanation as a connective force between individuals. If a man is not in contact with his Emanation he becomes unable to sympathize with other people (According to Damon).

Jerusalem, Plate 39, (E 187)
"Man is adjoind to Man by his Emanative portion:
Who is Jerusalem in every individual Man"

Jerusalem, Plate 53, (E 203)
Man divided from his Emanation is a dark Spectre
His Emanation is an ever-weeping melancholy Shadow"

Jerusalem, Plate 54, (E 203)
"In Great Eternity, every particular Form gives forth or Emanates
Its own peculiar Light, & the Form is the Divine Vision
And the Light is his Garment This is Jerusalem in every Man
A Tent & Tabernacle of Mutual Forgiveness Male & Female Clothings."

An additional form of seeing characteristics of the persona in Blake is apparent on Plate 16 of Milton. We have Milton removing his garment as he prepares to undertake his mission of reconciling with his false or mistaken dimensions. We can see the clothing which he wore as an obstruction to his development. Later he says:

"To bathe in the Waters of Life; to wash off the Not Human
I come in Self-annihilation & the grandeur of Inspiration
To cast off Rational Demonstration by Faith in the Saviour
To cast off the rotten rags of Memory by Inspiration
To cast off Bacon, Locke & Newton from Albions covering
To take off his filthy garments, & clothe him with Imagination
To cast aside from Poetry, all that is not Inspiration"
Milton, PLATE 41 [48], (Erdman 142)

So removing garments can represent breaking through the unreal facade so that the Eternal can be expressed and connect humanity in brotherhood.

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