Psychologist and Jungian analyst in Barcelona and online.

21 November, 2022

The broken mirror and the multiplicity of forms

This past weekend I attended a conference, via zoom, on the feminine and the psyche in Jung, organised by the French society of analytical psychology.
One of the speakers gave a lecture on Fernando Pessoa and his heteronyms, fictitious identities created by the author himself, who supposedly possess a different personality and therefore write from different perspectives.
The speaker said that Pessoa considered the archetypal unity produced by Christianity, we are talking about the beginning of the last century, to be a form of decadence, as it clearly limited the multiplicity of forms in which human beings can express themselves.

Christianity, as well as monotheistic religions, establishes two clearly differentiated figures: man and woman, and both of heterosexual orientation.
In other words, sex, gender and heteronormativity go together in such a way that no differentiated expression of them is “understood”.

Currently, at the height of the “woke” times (left-wing movement and ideology that promotes non-discrimination and social justice for all minorities, be they racial groups, lgtbi or alternative sectors) and the politics of “cancellation”, there is a tendency to promote and protect the different manifestations that can occur in the equation in which the aforementioned sex, gender and sexual orientation are combined in multiple ways, giving rise to very diverse expressions of identity.

If for Pessoa “uniqueness” was a manifestation of social decadence, for conservative sectors of society it is the opposite, it is “multiplicity” that would represent it.

  • A note, anyone who has been practising psychotherapy for years, as I have, will know that the representation of such unity is false, and that it is only a mirror in which we like to reflect ourselves, for the comfort and tranquillity of our psyche and of the social order.
    People’s lives are, beyond the behaviours, much more complex than they are manifested and, probably, respond to many more nuances that, if expressed, would break the visual unity in which we are used to living-.

When we walk down the street, we see peers who apparently have identities similar to our own, but if something manifests itself differently, a “man” who dresses as a “woman” according to a traditional perception or an undefined identity that we cannot immediately categorise, then our brain may become restless, searching, anxiously in some cases, for a location for what we have just observed.

The point is that uniqueness is suffocating but multiplicity can become unsettling for those who have not constructed an identity, either because they are, by age (especially in adolescence), in the process of doing so, or because life circumstances have not allowed them to consolidate it (e.g. traumas experienced in early life).

It is true that in autocratic societies the criterion of keeping the mirror in perfect condition is imposed so that each individual can be reflected in “the others” without the slightest doubt or “deviation”, while in open and liberal societies the forms are multiplying in such a way that, for some sectors, a certain collective anxiety is generated, especially in those who most need a stable criterion, a single manifestation of “being”.
Sometimes those who are most worried may have a part of themselves split off, even expressing it as an “autonomous complex” that manifests itself in a compulsive or addictive way.

Leaving the “broken mirror” so that the reality of beings manifests itself in a diversity of forms and we can see it in its fullest expression is a risky exercise, perhaps more honest and authentic, but dangerous because those who require a clearly univocal expression in which gender, sex and orientation must manifest themselves according to traditional moral law. By making them uneasy, they may even promote an involution, with the sole and clear intention of reconstructing the mirror and leaving it unpolluted.

The middle ground, in which psychic and physical spaces, dissenting from unity, are accepted, mystery is preserved and those who need clarity of form are allowed to settle, is possibly the best option for social coexistence and for the peace of psyches.

Breaking the mirror any further could begin to be very dangerous.




Damián Ruiz
20 November, 2022


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