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In page 69 of his "Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious", Jung writes:

The anima image, which lends the mother such superhuman glamour in the eyes of the son, gradually becomes tarnished by commonplace reality and sinks back into the unconscious, but without in any way losing its original tension and instinctivity. It is ready to spring out and project itself at the first opportunity, the moment a woman makes an impression that is out of the ordinary... The love life of a man reveals the psychology of this archetype in the form either of boundless fascination, overvaluation, and infatuation, or of misogyny in all its gradations and variants, none of which can be explained by the real nature of the "object" in question. The complex, however, was caused in the first place by the assimilation of the mother (in itself a normal and ubiquitous phenomenon) to the pre-existent, feminine side of an archetypal "male-female" pair of opposites, and secondly by an abnormal delay in detaching from the primordial image of the mother. Actually, nobody can stand the total loss of the archetype. When that happens, it gives rise to that frightful "discontent in our culture," where nobody feels at home because a "father" and "mother" are missing. Everyone knows the provisions that religion has always made in this respect. Unfortunately there are very many people who thoughtlessly go on asking whether these provisions are "true," when it is really a question of a psychological need. Nothing is achieved by explaining them away rationalistically. (bold added)

My question: What are these religious provisions that Jung is talking about in the highlighted sentences?

Thanks!

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  • Would you be so kind as to add the edition your page number refers to? Thanks! Apart from that, excellent first question, and welcome to Philosophy.SE! – Philip Klöcking Feb 4 at 9:36
  • I’m voting to close this question because this is a psychology question, not a philosophical question. – Swami Vishwananda Feb 5 at 4:26
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    @SwamiVishwananda Ever heard of the Frankfurt School? Erich Fromm was a major player, influenced by Jung. Speculative psychology and philosophy of mind have basically been the same for many decades. This only changed with psychology's emancipation as a science with empirically tested theories instead of narratives, which took off only in the second half of the 20th century. Are questions about William James to be closed here because of him holding a chair of psychology and writing about psychology? – Philip Klöcking Feb 6 at 10:56
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I would like to provide an answer based both on my admittedly superficial knowledge of Jung's theory and pure exegesis. It should be taken with a pinch of salt insofar as I am not an expert on Jung myself, but only discussed his theory with someone who built his doctoral thesis on the book.

I think it is crucial to include the two sentences prior to the ones you highlighted since they add aspects important to the interpretation:

Actually, nobody can stand the total loss of the archetype. When that happens, it gives rise to that frightful "discontent in our culture," where nobody feels at home because a "father" and "mother" are missing. (bold added)

If you now add the highlighted ones with a distinct emphasis, it becomes quite clear what is meant in abstract:

Everyone knows the provisions that religion has always made in this respect. Unfortunately there are very many people who thoughtlessly go on asking whether these provisions are "true," when it is really a question of a psychological need. Nothing is achieved by explaining them away rationalistically. (bold added)

Thus, what we are talking about are provisions that religion has made which prevent the total loss of/alienation from the anima/animus archetype, which would, according to his theory, lead to psychological complexes. This becomes clear when he criticises attempts to rationalise these provisions away although there is a psychological need for them.

The next step will be thinking about which provisions by religion, in particular, would satisfy our need for motherly/fatherly figures in the sense of archetypes, which involves "superhuman glamour". Put that way, I think it becomes clear that Jung refers to the saints and gods who embody all the archetypal human, but also gender-specific positive (and sometimes negative) properties and values. Another parallel between religious figures and motives and the unconscious archetypes is their transcendental character, this inciting and direction-determining beyondness which takes a central position in Jung's theory.

Therefore, my answer would be that religion provides narratives (that's why we can discuss "truth") about archetypal fatherly and motherly figures in the form of saints and gods. They embody anima and animus and thus prevent the complete alienation from - and slip into the unconscious of - these archetypes, which would produce psychological problems.

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  • This is excellent, Philip. Thanks. – Yusuf Feb 5 at 23:11

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