Gender and Psyche. An archetypal aspect of gender representation
The purpose of this article is to explore the archetypal dimensions of gender representation and the transgender experience.
Gender and Psyche
Archetypal Aspects of Gender Representation
The purpose of this article is to explore the archetypal dimensions of gender representation and the transgender experience. Research is based on the Jungian undestanding of archetypal reality as well as archetypal pattern analysis, the discipline pioneered by Dr. Conforti, which includes field theory and the New Sciences. The universal roots of the transgender experience will be illuminated through mythology and viewed through the lens of contemporary culture. The psychological implications of archetypal possession will be delinated through analysis of The Danish Girl movie as well as by analyzing a dream of a tcontemporary transgender person.
“The spirit is the life of the body seen from within, and the body the outward manifestation of the life of the spirit—the two being really one.” (Jung,1970, CW 10 ¶195 )
The transgender community gathers every year on November 20th, all over the world to remember the trans-women or trans-men who were murdered solely because of their gender presentation. These are victims of violence and hate-crimes committed by people believing they have the right to rid society of anyone who looks wrong or different. This memorial event is always held at night and the names of the murdered are read out loud as the silent crowd stands illuminated by the flickering candles.
Who are these transgender people and what is the reality they live? As I went through the Archetypal Pattern Analyst program at the Assisi Institute, I realized that a new look at gender and psyche, especially the transgender presentation could add a new and broader understanding of this issue within the structure of Jungian psychology.
(Possibly more here…something about APA or Jungian analytical psychology)
The hypothesis of this paper is two-fold. First, that the transgender archetype demonstrates Psyche’s ability to express itself in the individual as well as in the collective in all of its multiplicity, not simply in the binary polarity of male and female. Out of the dynamic tension between the two polarities, there often develops new dimensions and these dimensions are the visible range of gender expressions we know as the GLBTQ, (gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, queer). The many shades of expression that exist in gender cultures, parallel to what we typically accept as the heterosexual norm of dominant culture.
Secondly, my hypothesis also establishes a symbolic dimension to transgender behavior, which in some cases leads to harmful self-mutilation and as such, raises important clinical analytical aspects which are directly related to the work of archetypal recognition as well as to discovering the complexes which may or may not drive gender expression.
Drawing on archetypal field theory, mythology, and Jungian psychology, this paper explores the dimensions of the transgender experience, both as a natural expression of gender diversity as well as a psychological response. A discussion of the movie, The Danish Girl, elucidates the transgender experience through the psychological lens.
My writing about transgender issues has been influenced by the resonance I experienced being close to nature. When my wife and I started a community garden with fourteen other neighbors some eight years ago, I had a very limited understanding of how to grow food. Being raised in the middle of Copenhagen, Denmark, I felt an unexpected blessing to learn gardening from scratch. We spent almost every Saturday and Sunday building our ten thousand square feet garden collective and I ended up not only harvesting tomatoes and other vegetables but also enjoying a new knowledge of how nature works. In the plant world, the most amazing dominants are revealed. Through gardening, I learned the importance of soil management, cross pollination and even transgender plant behavior. I discovered a yellow corn started as a male and in mid-season, as if changing its mind, suddenly became female for the rest of the season. I also noticed how tiny seeds grew to be tall fruit-bearing plants, echoing the basic understanding of pre-existing fields as articulated by Rupert Sheldrake, the development of any plant follows the mandate inherent in the specific field,.
Fields have a measurable physical effect, according to Sheldrake and are the unseen building blocks in nature. (Sheldrake 1981, p. 3). His research points to the fact that a ten-foot high sunflower in all its majesty already exists in the tiny sunflower seed. The morphogenetic (Morpho=form, genetic=coming into) field of sunflowers exists outside of space and time, even before there is a seed. We will never find the blue print visible or even present, but in its unfolding of form we know the form exists in the pre-existing field of the plant.
Jung already knew and talked about the pre-existing field as articulated in his “Kindertraume Seminare” (childhood dream seminars 1936-41). He states that “Children unconsciously already have an adult psychology. The individual is already from birth, or perhaps even before birth, what he will later become.” (Vedfelt 1999, p. 76).
Making connections from biology and into human behavior, we can speak of behavioral morphic fields. Morphic fields work in biology like this: if an organism behaves in an divergent way, then other organisms sometimes will develop in the same way more easily. Once the field of novelty is activated it will accelerate and replicate in a specific direction either beneficial as in evolution or as in cancer, in a destructive way. In behavioural morphic fields, The Stonewall riots of 1969 in San Francisco stands as a striking example of how a perturbation set in motion a whole movement to acknowledge and advance the gay community. Also in San Francisco, the Daughters of Bilitis, a similar perturbation was founded some years earlier. Both novel organizations emerged from the invisibility of oppression into mainstream American culture almost overnight. The gender field had been made visible and the dominant culture changed with it.
The recent media frenzy around Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner Buzz Bissinger, Caitlin Jenner the full story, Vanity Fair, June 15, 2015, demonstrates the acceleration of the transgender exposure in our culture.
Using Jungian terminology, I would theorize that once the field has been activated by the specific archetype, there is an increase of intensity in the field around the complex. The morphic resonance acts as the catalyst. This paranormal influence can identify the emergent pattern and facilitate subsequent occurrences of similar patterns.
Drawing upon my transformational experience in the garden, I began to see the how we humans are connected to the laws of nature. This realization of interconnectedness spurred me to apply my garden wisdom to the archetypal pattern recognition and translation teachings of The Assisi Institute.
In this examination of gender and psyche, I look at the archetypal manifestation of what is commonly known as the transgender person. Yet a clarification of terms is needed. If the outward manifestation of a person appears to be contrary to their anatomical sex it is called transgender representation or preference. Here I rely on the APA taskforce report on gender representation. (American Psychological Association, Task Force on Gender Identity and Gender Variance, 2009. Report of the Task Force on Gender Identity and Gender Variance.) Not only is there a physical but also a spiritual manifestation of the archetypal aspect. Despite two centuries of modern medical research into the question about why some people are transgendered, no clear answer has emerged about the causation of gender preference.
It is also important to understand the difference between sexual orientation and gender representation. Sexual orientation knows no gender and does not present itself as such. A man can be sexually attracted to another man but does not have to present himself as a female. This is the case with most homosexual relationships. Women do not have to appear as males to be attracted to other women. The sexual attraction or orientation is, as such, completely genderless. It is a myth that a transmale would be sexually attracted only to women and a trans-woman would only seek out males as partners. This, however, is not the case. Human sexuality is independent of gender representation.
The American Psychological Association clarifies that, “Sexual orientation refers to the sex of those to whom one is sexually and romantically attracted. Categories of sexual orientation typically have included the following: 1) attraction to members of one’s own sex (gay men or lesbians), 2) attraction to members of the other sex (heterosexuals), and 3) attraction to members of both sexes (bisexuals). While these three categories continue to be widely used, more recent research suggests that sexual orientation does not always appear in such clearly defined categories and instead occurs on a continuum.
The word gender refers to the attitudes, feelings, and behaviors that a given culture associates with a person’s biological sex. Behavior that is compatible with cultural expectations is referred to as gender-normative; behaviors that are viewed as incompatible with these expectations constitute gender non-conformity.
Transgender as a mythological archetype
The archetypal image of a third gender goes back in time thousands of years, as revealed in Gods/Goddesses worshipped by ancient cultures, such as the multi-gendered God Kybele/Agdistis. A statue of Kybele/Agdistis was found in the Bronze Age capital city Hattusa of the Hittite empire, dating back to at least 2000 BC. Agdistis was an androgynous (Intersexed) god who possessed both male and female sexual organs. According to the myth of Agdistis, she was born from the intercourse of Zeus and the Great Mother, who in the shape of a rock, gave birth to the androgynous Agdistis. This offspring turned out to be pretty malicious. She (the pronoun chosen by contemporary historians) killed and ravaged everything in sight. She self-castrated as an drunken enactment of a punishment instigated by the wine god Dionysus. Despite her violent history, there was a huge following of Agdistis from Anatolia, Asia Minor to Greece. As we have already seen, Agdistis possessed a wild nature and she was also worshipped as a benevolent healing goddess. This contradiction is congruent with the two-gendered spirit of Agdistis. Both the destructive and healing aspect of the two opposites express the reality of the archetype. This connection may be what gives the myth/god/goddess a sense of the numinous.
The worship and cult celebrations dedicated to Aphrodite were executed in such a way that women would wear men’s clothing and the men would dress up as women, swing their hips, and speak with high voices. Aphroditus was associated with the Moon because of his female character.
These ancient multi-gendered gods carried with them some of the archetypal understanding of wholeness and inclusiveness in the combining of both genders.
In Greek mythology, we have another example of transgender forms in the god Tiresias who was transformed into a woman for seven years. This transformation was a punishment by Hera (one of three sisters of Zeus) for beating two mating snakes. To become a woman could be translated as indicative of the patriarchal view that to be female was being less than a man. Could it also be in interpreted as a chance for Tiresias to learn about his femenine side which would probably not have killed the snakes. In some versions, Tiresias is known as a famous prostitute as well as a shaman, which is a product of the intuitive Anima psyche.
The dual nature of the human psyche is revealed in the transgender shaman and also in the archetype of the trickster, which appears among The First People of North America and early in the Norse pantheon of gods in the personification of Loki, the son of the god Farbauti who appeared in the lighting fire of dry tinder. Loki is unpredictable, and destructive just like his father. Sometimes Loki appears dressed as a woman and sometimes as a man. There is no knowing how he or she will show up. What is known is the trickster creates chaos and trouble. Loki shows up when not invited, drinks other gods’ beer, and through subterfuge, causes the death of the god Balder. (Simek 1984 p.193)
In the Roman pantheon of gods there is the story of Iphis who was the daughter of Telethusa. Because Telethusa’s husband Ligdus wanted a boy, the mother decided to raise her female child as male. It went well for everyone until Lanthe, the daughter of Telestes, fell in love with whom she thought was the young man Iphis. Her love was returned but there could not be a wedding because of the secret circumstances. The solution was for Telethusa to bring Iphis to the temple of Isis. Here she was miraculously transformed into a man. In this tale we see a complete shift of gender as though it is possible within the psyche to transform from one sex to the other. The question must be asked though, was the transformation in line with Iphis’s own nature or was it a conceit of the gods?
The Japanese patron of mirrors and stonecutting is the transgender Deity Ishi Kori Dome. Kori Dome is the one who created an exquisite octagon mirror and lured the sun goddess out of her cave to bring light to this world. Again, the magical is connected to the transgender role woven into the mythology. The deity patron’s love of mirrors seems also to reflect the need for her self-reflection. Seeing oneself and being seen is crucial in psyche’s development of the self. The first step in that process is the child finding itself in the mirroring of the mother’s eyes. In the Japanese myth the sun cannot help itself but must come out of the cave to see what shines so wonderfully. It doesn’t know that it is her own reflection. Like the swan in Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, The Ugly Duckling, when the swan looks into the water and recognizes herself as a swan, she comes into full existence.
Since the advent of Christianity, the worship of multi-gendered deities disappeared in Western culture. So also did the power of the earth mother and the generative feminine. There is only one reference in the Hebrew scriptures about gender expression. Found in Leviticus, it states that any man who puts on women’s clothing is an abomination to the Lord. Despite this strong cultural norm, or cultural resistance, I have come to accept that gender expression, in all its plurality, is rooted in the archetypal field, which throughout history and cultures, exists and will always exist as long as there are humans.
“When an inborn archetypal structure passes into a manifest form of an archetypal fantasy or image, the psyche makes use of impressions from the external surroundings for its mean of expression.” (Von Franz, Marie Louise .Psyche and Matter.1988 p.6.) The image is an expression of the emergence or constellation of the specific archetype, which, in this case, is explored is the androgynous or transgender expression.
The terra cotta figurines found on Cyprus of the Bearded Goddess from 8th century BC are just another example of how early these archetypal images occur. In her book, The Bearded Goddess, Marie-Louise Winbladh writes extensively about the ancient Greek worship of androgynous Goddesses/Gods. She quotes Macrobius in the 4th and 5th century AD describing a stature representing the goddess Venus with a beard (Saturnalia III, 8,1-3). There is also a statue of Venus on Cyprus that is bearded, shaped and dressed like a woman, with scepter and male genitals. Venus on Cyprus is conceived as both male and female. Aristophanes calls her Aphroditus and Laevitus says, “We worship then, the nurturing god Venus whether she is male or female, just as the Moon is a nurturing goddess.” (Windbladh 2012, p. 57). Atthis Phiochorus also states that she is the Moon and that men sacrifice to her in woman’s dress, and women in men’s because she is held to be both male and female. Throughout ancient history and the literature of the antiquity, there is a clear conception of androgyny in the worship of the Great Goddess.
The Williams institute of the University of California published a survey of the number of GLBTQ people living in the US. Published by Gary J. Gates in April 2011. The survey states there are 697 thousand (about 0.3%) US citizens who describe themselves as transgender. This population lives “outside” the culturally accepted norms of gender, which has a tremendous impact on their lives, the way they are treated and, as stated at the outset of this discussion, they are subjected to discrimination, violence and even murder.
It is my experience, talking with and being around transgender people, that Western culture still struggles with accepting the concept of a “third gender”. Where many indigenous cultures have for generations accepted multiple gender expressions, we are just now, in the West, learning about this diversity. We are often stuck in the idea that there is only one way to express femininity and one way to be a male. We see this in the images of collective consciousness, which, in our culture, often expresses itself through the fashion industry. Our diversity is diminished by this old way of thinking inside boxes and does little more than keep us locked inside the conflicts of a gender binary society. In this narrowing attitude, one is expected to be fully female or fully male. This binary expectation leaves a very unfortunate void for anyone who does not quite fit into either of the two categories. What we see among many young people today is a refusal to live by these binary gender norms. They want to experiment and not be forced to jump into pre-configured roles. A recent media surprise was the winner of the 2014 Euro Vision song competition. The transgender singer Thomas Neuwirth created herself as Conchita Wurst and performed as female with a full dark beard. Her song and performance won her the gold, brought the audience to their feet, and our culture was another step either closer to a so-called “post gender” world. Or maybe we are harkening back to antiquity where the Great Mother was worshipped in androgynous form. Was Conchita giving us an image of the bearded goddess from Cyprus and Carthage? I believe so. In bringing back the Bearded Goddess she expressed the archetypal image in all of its numinosity.
Unfortunately, this popular progress does not come without some very high sacrifices for the people who walk this emergent road. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, alarming statistics demonstrate the degree of vulnerability transgender people experience. These are the findings of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey: a lifetime suicide attempt rate among transgender persons aged eighteen to forty-four of an astounding 45% compared to 4.6% in the heterosexual US population. Surprisingly, the rate is highest between American Indian and Alaska Native of up to 56%, a population that has historically accepted third gender people but is now in the highest percentage range. Up to 57% of transgender people lose all contact with their family after “coming out” and 60% are refused healthcare services when they show up at a clinic. An estimated 61% reported being harassed unprovoked by law enforcement officers and 60-70% experienced physical or sexual violence by law enforcement officers when trying to get help. In the transgender community, 69% of the people are homeless, the majority of this group being teenagers. (Haas, 2014).
These numbers speak for themselves, as do accounts of transgender people in traffic accidents who have experienced ridicule from emergency staff on ambulances or hospitals. This group is often denied access to airplane travel or thrown off the airplanes just before take off, denied access to restaurants, or lose their jobs because of their preferred gender representation. This constitutes a civil right issue.
If to be transgender were something new, then maybe there would be some justification for this cruel treatment. The fact is, however, that opposite or fluid gender manifestations have been with us in every culture since the first humans walked on this planet. This evidence is what supports the conclusion that the expression of gender identity is rooted in the archetypal. It is possible to see its form manifested through time and history.
As a prelude to the next chapter about symbolic and clinical archetypal possession, it is important to understand what actually drives the field of a person, male or female, who consciously enters into the field of the other gender and then is unconsciously flooded with the archetypal mandates. To explore this process, I refer to the movie “The Danish Girl.” One does not have to watch the movie, although I highly recommend it, to understand what is going on with the main character Einar Wegener. It is enough to watch the trailer for the movie to catch the theme and to see the intense highlights of the story. The trailer reads like a dream understood in the Jungian tradition: exposition, development, crisis and lysis. The first clip shows Einar saying to a person, “The first time we met, she propositioned me.” Einar begins his story led by the feminine. “She was so sure” he continues .This is the exposition. He is not playing the masculine role but rather he is being led on leash into the woman’s boudoir. There is no courtship from him, no roses, no nothing. Only a passive following of Gerda’s needs. She has chosen him. We see them first in the bedroom in a love scene, and then in the studio where he puts on the stockings and the dress. He gets flooded with emotion, sensation and fascination as he dress up in the opposite gender’s clothing. In the book, The Danish Girl, Gerda asks him to pose for him, to put on a pair of stockings and ladies shoes. Shoes, according to Von Franz, are symbols of the standpoint of attitude towards reality. (Von Franz. 1977. P.21.) This marks the beginning of his transformation. The shoes fit and so do the stockings. Einar feels the soft fabric of the dress and it is clear from his expression that it resonates with his own longing for the feminine. He is protrayed as a very effeminate male already. In the trailer, Gerda’s girlfriend interrupts the session where Einar poses as a woman for his wife’s painting. She arrives unexpected, walks straight up to Einar and says, “I think we shall call you Lilli.” Notably, he does not choose, but accepts the new name. Einar is immediately flattered and from then on, like turning a page, he is now Lilli Elbe. Entering into the development of the story, he follows the women to a ball the following night. In real life, it takes years for most transgender to reach a state of “passing” in the opposite gender. For a transgender, passing is everything, finally being seen and accepted by the world as the true gender you want to present.
The kiss brings Einar’s and Gerda’s playfulness to a grinding halt. Gerda begins to understand that she has lost Einar to Lilli. She no longer has a husband. This is the crisis of the story, at least if we look at what the gender shift does for the relationship between them. Gerda helps Einar to become Lilli but does not realize that Lilli is now determined never to go back to be a male or a husband. This is an interesting twist, because although Gerda wanted to have Einar as a husband, she was herself also strongly pulled to the lesbian experience and life style which came to life in her paintings.
Lilli has been flooded by the female gender archetype and there is no way back for her. The story (and movie) rightfully portrays the disaster as their marriage and relationship slowly falls apart. Lilli leaves the marriage to become a woman full time. Not only in looks, but also in an anatomical sense. This eventually leads to her death. When a uterus is being implanted,she dies from internal bleeding. No one can really determine if Einar was born transgender. (The public knowledge around transgender issues, or even the posibility that transgender people existed was not comon 1905.) It is very possible that she was born intersex and would have been most comfortable as a woman. What is important for the purpose of our discussion is both the archetypal possession as well as the tragic result for Lilli Elbe.
Archetypal Possession from Symbolic and Clinical Perspectives
When there is no apparent causation i.e. a strong evidence that a client has been born transgendered, the analytical clinical approach to the gender issue at hand is extremely important. An exploratory clinical stance can prevent a later disastrous outcome for the client; disastrous in the form of self mutilation, castration, or even suicide. Often people come to a sudden awareness of the attraction for gender change in mid or late life. Maybe transgender exploration is a genuine soul’s call, and maybe it is the result of matriarchal or patriarchal castration surfacing in the psyche. Only a careful evaluation of these factors in the clients life can bring informed knowledge of how tbest to proceed towards fostering wholeness and balance in the client’s life.
As I have worked with dreams of transgender people who generously have shared them with me, I would advise analysts who work with those in the GLBTQ community to consider working with their dreams. The dreams give clues as to what is going on in the unconscious of the client. As an example, I will present a dream that a twenty-some year old male dealing with transgender issues shared with me. It is an important dream because it reads like a modern myth or fairy tale.
I woke up from my bed. It was dimly lit. My room had no windows and the walls were greenish white. I put on my slippers and walked out of my room into the hallway. The decoration of the house was very futuristic. The house is empty, I called out: “Mom? Dad? are you both here?” I felt sad and I don’t know where they are and have not seen them for quite sometime, nor do I have any recollection how they look. All I knew was that I missed them very much. I left the house to look for them. Suddenly I was in a huge place. There were adults all over the place. I couldn’t see the ceiling but there were buildings around and they had polished glass walls/windows. I looked up at a LCD display mounted on the wall. There were blue and red dotted lines that seem to indicate the flight path to other destinations. Before me stood two men. One in officer uniform and the other rather handsome man in a pilot uniform. They were much taller than me, I barely reached their waist. I tugged at their pants looking up at them asking “Do you know where my parents went?” They looked back and said “I don’t know little girl, but we know that many people are lost in space and we are trying to go and find them. “Go home and look for your parents” the pilot said. Disappointed I turned away. I saw my own reflection in the glass walls. I saw an 8 year old Asian girl with neat shoulder length hair. The reflection gazed back at me sadly.
The central theme of this dream is not that the dreamer sees himself as a little girl in the reflection on the wall, or that the pilot address him as female, but that there is a clear loss and disconnect with the parents of the dreamer. There are also two male persons and the image of the little girl with no mother. A later dream by the same person revealed that he spent most of his childhood in the shop of his grandparents who did not have much time for him. The unconscious in the dream repeats the question of the whereabout of the parents and points to look for them. The dreamer wanted this dream to be about wanting to be a girl instead of a boy. I believe his view caries some validity, as one recals Marie Louise Von Franz explanation of the symbolic meaning of mirrors in her book “Individuation in Fairy Tales. She states “The mirror is to see one self in the objective form. (p.120). This dream however is also about other deeper issues issues. Themes of the hero’s journey, issues of search for guidance, and also coming into consciousness must be exploreed.
If the appearance of gender dysphoria is caused because of the absence in the upbringing of a father or a mother, a devouring parent, or other castrating family members, there is reason to explore this and not immediately accept the rush toward supporting a change of gender. One is left to wonder how the client has been pushed into the situation they feel they are in? To amplify this theme, it is worth examining from a symbolic point of view.
A good example of this is the play by Ernst Barlach: “A Dead Day” (Neumann p.165). The play is about the devouring mother who kills her son’s masculinity by slaying his horse. The horse is supposed to carry him to victory and self determination. His mythic mother conceived her son by way of the sun-god, who on taking his departure, said he would return when the cild had become a man. He would then evaluate how well she had brought him up. It is a mythic play about the gods and the impossibility of being raised only by the feminine. The son is torn between the elemental parents above and below. He hears “the sun roaring above the mist”. Transfixed between mother and father, he finally gives in to the domination of the mother, but tries again to leave her. When she kills herself in agony, he is overcome by grief and commits suicide saying “mothers way suits me better after all”. With no paternal blessing, and his denial of father-god, he has no other way than through self-mutilation and death. He is in a sense, as Neumann writes: the Oedipus the vanquished, not the victor. (P.168)
Another image of patriarchal castration is that of the recurrent characters in the operas of Giuseppe Verdi. For example in the opera “Rigoletto”, we see the portrayal of a father who acts in the service of the great mother. In the story, he confines the daughter Gilda to the house. She is only to leave to go to church. In the attempt to shield her from the evils of the world, Rigoletto engages in a psychological incestuous relationship with his daughter. Through plots of jealousy and deceit, it ends in disaster for everyone. The opera is a favorite of Verdi’s because of his own horrible relationship with his father who faltered him for his success as a composer. In other words, his inspiration is a castrating father figure, a theme which is repeated in several of Verdi’s operas.
My point is that the sons of a devouring father own their impotence to patriarchal castration. (Neumann p. 189)
When the complex takes over, the ego degenerates into a psychic egocentricity, and the self-obsession is the characteristic result. (P.386). In other words, when the ego gets lost in the archetypal expression of transgenderness, the complex takes over and the person is lost in behavior of egocentricity and concretization which is also evidence of a possession. If the analyst can manage to guide the person who is lost in an egocentric concretization of the opposite gender and guide it towards a partnership with the archetype, there is a possibility for a more holistic life for the client. The main goal to help any person who has been possessed by the archetypal image, is to prevent the self mutilation and self castration the possession advocates . Here I am no longer talking symbolically but concretly. It is a fact that the suicide rate is higher for transgender people who have had gender reassignment surgery than for those who have not. There is however a very strong trend among GLBTQ serving therapists, to act in favor of the rush towards gender reassignment rather than looking at what issues lies behind the gender dysphoria of the client.
As I have stated in this paper, there are two sides to the story. One is the archetypal reality of the transgender image which shows itself and has been generated through time and space. There is also the activation of the complexes when one is overcome by the archetypal possession. This is not an easy subject, and the medical community, including the psychoanalytical, is still at the very beginnings of understanding transgender issues. When a corn plant in mid life all of a sudden changes gender, is it a purtubation of an existing pattern or is it an emergence of a pre existing field? Is the gender change in “The Danish Girl” the result of a psychic pertubation or is it the uncovering of a pre existing gender pattern? My research into the archetypal aspect of gender has told me that it can be either one. On one hand one has to accept the archetypal existence of the transgender reality and on the other look for the result of a perturbation into the life of a human being. That is the confusing or paradoxical reality. Therefore it is of utmost importance in the clinical situation to look for the evidence of either possibility occurring in the patient’s life. It is my intention that this paper shed a bit more light on this complex matter.
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I would like to thank Dr. Michael Conforti for his dedication in bringing this archetypal work to life. Being a part of the Assisi Institute has changed the direction of my life, giving me the opportunity to change careers as I retire. I am grateful to my wife, Silvia Behrend both for encouraging me to enter into this world of archetypal pattern analysis as well as for her helping translate my Danishisms into English. I would like to also thank Lisa Sydow PhD for encouraging me to work deeper to find my voice, to Muriel McMahon for her editing and Kevin Richards for his helpful insights.