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Hudson, W.C. (1978). Persona and Defence Mechanisms. J. Anal. Psychol., 23(1):54-62.

(1978). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 23(1):54-62

Persona and Defence Mechanisms

Wayne C. Hudson, Ph.D.


A REVIEW of the literature concerning the persona indicates that a great deal remains to be known concerning this particular component of the psyche. Apart from a reiteration of Jung's statement on the persona, few theorists or clinicians, with the exception of Jolande Jacobi, in her important work Die Seelenmaske, have commented on the various manifestations of the persona (JACOBI 9). In this paper I intend to cover briefly some of the major areas of consideration which I feel need further development in order to enhance the understanding of the development of the persona and its relation to psychopathology.

Jung describes the persona as ‘a compromise between individual and society as to what a man should appear to be’ (JUNG 12, p. 156). The persona acts, on the one hand, to make definite impressions upon others and, on the other, to conceal the true nature of the individual. It is a social rôle or mask which acts as a mediator between the inner world and the social world, and which constitutes the compromise between the individual and society.

While Jung did not specifically trace the developmental influences on the persona, he did imply that its moulding is largely social when he stated that its making is often more attributable to others than to the person himself (JUNG 10), or when he said, ‘We might define this false self as the persona, that general idea of ourselves which we have built up from experiencing our effect upon the world around us and its effects upon us’ (JUNG 11, p. 218).

Jolande Jacobi's major work, Die Seelenmaske, concerns the manifestations of the persona and of the inflated persona, but primarily with reference to the adult. Her book examines the persona in the social context with emphasis on the persona's link between the social milieu and the archetypes. She also emphasises neurotic manifestations created by the persona's potential isolation of the self from the environment leading to feelings of emptiness and unreality (JACOBI 9).

Whitmont states that the pseudo-ego stereotypy of persona identification can stop the development of, or atrophy, the ego. In defining the persona, Whitmont emphasises not only the cultural function of the persona, but the effects which early parental demands have on its development (WHITMONT 20).

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