The animus and anima are two more in the long line of underthought notions that Jung put forth without really rigorously considering alternative explanations. The anima contains all of the female archetypes within a male that he represses and the animus all of the male archetypes within a female that she represses. Creativity, we are given to believe, results from the engagement with these archetypes.
This, of course, relies on us buying the notion of gendered psychological types- that there are psychological traits that you can label as fundamentally feminine vs. masculine. We can definitely say that there are traits that society THINKS OF as masculine vs. feminine, but that is a matter of repetition, not biology. Comparative neuroscience has unearthed some interesting things about what the washing of the male brain with testosterone while in the womb does to our communication centers (Louanne Brizendine’s book is a good summary of these findings up to four years ago). But that is a different thing entirely from an archetypal female psychology which grants mystical creative powers to males once they engage with it.
This is the problem with Jung’s archetypes in general – humans are humans, and get themselves into pretty similar situations wherever they are. You have to eat, reproduce, and form groups to protect your sadly unarmored body. These are common experiences, and we tell similar stories about how we deal with them. That, and geographic expansion of stories and traditions through cultural interaction, explain A Lot. If you have enough experience with other humans, you get enough of a lexicon of shared experience to be able to understand and feel emotional about situations that have not happened to you personally. For Jung, you understand because those situations are archetypes built into our fundamental genetic structure – really, physically present there, informing our reactions to stories and our growth as humans. He underemphasizes the commonality of human experience in order to overmysticize it, and thereby allow himself to approach psychology as an exercise in arcane reference hunting, rather than as a rigorous discipline.
For a while, it was popular to refer to every behavior a human exhibited as a holdover from some evolutionary survival strategy. And there definitely are some things that can be explained that way, hard-wired sets of chemical responses that behave in a way that is as general as Jung took his archetypes to be – what our brain does when we perceive motion, the instincts that kick in around our children. But, for the most part, evolutionarily, we have needed all of the extreme types of human behavior to survive – we keep people who over-react to certain stimuli because we need warriors, just as we keep people who are uncommonly unresponsive because we need people to be chill with, and so those genes keep replicating, and so there is not the genetic uniformity of response necessary for Jung to even start having a foothold on translating his acts of occult masturbation into something approximating a science. It is in our interest as a species to keep as psychologically diverse as we can, and that diversity works against the core of psychological universalism, even as external societal pressure tries to flatten out that diversity through pressure to conform.
By and large, I think Jung is almost entirely backwards, and needed to be in order to live with himself. As a massive conformist himself (look at what he did to psychoanalysis to make it drawing room friendly), he needed to believe that that conformity was biological, rather than something that he chose to do to get by, and so he wrote conformity of response into his psychology as a necessary thing, and went truffle sniffing for as many examples as he could to back up that thesis, entirely ignoring along the way the commonality of human experience, digging himself in so deep that he couldn’t see the massive inversion of societal and biological conformity he had committed for his own sake.
– Count Dolby von Luckner