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The Mask and the Aura2009.08.19

    The Mask and the Aura

    A look at Latin roots can reveal nuances of meanings and lineage of word families which give new life to common everyday words. When you know that the Latin word persona means mask or facade, it throws a different light on words like person, personal, and personality. When you know that the Latin word anima means soul or life, it makes you think more deeply about words like animal, animate, and animistic.


    Swiss psychologist Carl Jung (1875-1961) adopted the term persona to mean the outer mask of the personality, in contrast to the anima, the inner aspect of the soul. Jung broke from his teacher and the founder of Psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud, to form a new field he called Analytical Psychology. Jung was famous for his exploration of dreams, art, mythology, literature, the arts, religion, and philosophy, east and west. Jung coined terms like psychological archetypes, the collective unconscious, and synchronicity. Unlike his teacher Freud, who focused on psychoanalysis, repression and sexuality, Jung emphasized analytical psychology, archetypes, and individuation. Jungian Psychology was influential not only on countercultural movements around the globe, but also formed the foundation for many of the personality type assessments used in business today.


    The Myers-Briggs Jung Typology Test produces 16 different personality profiles based on combinations and relative strengths of personality functions such as extroversion, introversion, sensing, intuition, thinking, feeling, perceiving, and judging. The Keirsey Temperament Sorter looks at personality type in terms of 4 core temperaments, Guardians, Rationals, Idealists, and Artisans. And Roger Hamilton’s Wealth Dynamics Profile focuses on 8 wealth profiles, Creator, Star, Supporter, Deal Maker, Trader, Accumulator, Lord, and Mechanic. Each profiling system has been widely used around the world, and is supported by extensive theoretical and applied research. Each of these, and many other personality profiling assessments are used by individuals and HR managers to help determine the best direction for a career of fit for a job.


    Lots of insights can be gained from these systems, but some people resist the idea of grouping people into types, because it can be used to stereotype others, or as an excuse for why a person acts or behaves according to their type. Though there is enough consistency within the types to warrant serious study, typology tends to focus on generic characteristics, and does not fully accommodate all of the variations that come from individual and cultural differences, growth and development, as well as sheer abnormality.


    Someone tried to settle the argument by saying that there are two types of people in this world, those who divide people into types, and those who don’t. What seems to me to be missing from the discussion is anima. For all of the talk about personality types and differences, for Jung this discussion would have been limited to the persona, the mask or facade, and not the anima or essence and life of the soul.


    Regardless of the differences in personality type or style, there is an aura which is emits from that person at a deeper level. The word aura has both Greek and Latin roots, meaning breath or gentle breeze. It has come to mean the atmosphere or energy of the person. While this is not something that you can easily test, type, or put on a resume, it is an integral part of a person and in some ways reveals more about the person than the persona.


    People are shocked when a famous entertainer, athlete, executive, or politician is arrested for criminal activity, but this just shows the gap between the carefully crafted media persona and what the person is really like behind the facade. Study the scandals and it is the same story over and over again.


    To see a person’s aura doesn’t mean that you can see colors, halos, or spiritual energies, so much as to have a sense for their presence and energy. Sometimes the facade does not tell the whole story, and often it tells a story which is meant to mask what is inside. In addition to your personality, it is important to give people a sense of your presence, the quality of your energy. Rather than judging people by appearances, it is important to get a sense for their bearing. In this way, you will find yourself better understood, and less taken in by appearances.


    Bearing is important because it is the way you conduct or carry yourself. It is your posture, the way you breathe, your behavior, your posture, and your attitude. It is harder to fake because the anima is the unconscious or habitual self, the way you act when no one is looking.


    When we say that someone has personality, we may mean that their personality is infused with anima, the spirit of life and energy. In animism this quality is extended to rocks, rivers, trees, animals, and all kinds of natural phenomena. Is that really so primitive? Perhaps this is why Jung focused so much of his research on mythology, dreams, art, and religion. What fascinated him was the animistic character of so much of human culture. It is this aura that we appreciate in animals, and it is this spirit that we enjoy in animation.


    Know your personality type. Express your personality. Develop your personal brand. But don’t neglect your anima, without which it is all just a masquerade.

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    Article Writer

    William Reed

    William Reed is a renowned author-speaker who coaches physical finesse and flexible focus for a creative career path. A certified Master Trainer in Guerrilla Marketing and 7th-dan in Aikido, he combines practical wisdom of East and West to help you learn personal branding at the Entrepreneurs Creative Edge.

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