The Death Mother Archetype and Lost Femininity


art credit: Escaping, Art Tower


Greetings, dear readers!

The following is a continuation of our blog series “Reflections from the Heart of the Feminine.” If you’re just joining us you may want to start here.


Quotation from the Introduction for reflection and discussion:

Many of my female analysands painfully confess that they no longer have an idea of what it is to be feminine. Over twenty-five years ago, the Jungian analyst June Singer, in an article titled “The Sadness of the Successful Woman,” said that she believed that such women are suffering from a particular form of depression: They are mourning for their lost femininity. She also considered this an archetypal problem because it affects all of us—women, men, and children. Singer points out that our patriarchal society places its highest value on the archetype of personal identity. The emphasis on fame in our culture epitomizes this idea. From preschool, to sports, to jobs, to careers, to where and how we live, identity in our culture is based on personal achievements. The terror that goes hand-in-hand with our idolatry of identity grips us when we do not achieve what we want to, plan to, or should accomplish. We must then face the shame of failure, of not being good enough, or of not being who we thought we were. No wonder losing a job, getting divorced, becoming seriously ill, or—even on a smaller scale—having our kidʼs team lose a game can fill us (or our kids) with shame. Shame haunts the identity-oriented person. (p. xiii)


Questions for Journaling and Group Discussion:

How do you feel about the “lost femininity” that Singer talks about and how this actually “affects all of us – women, men, and children?”

How were you taught to deal with your emotions?

How would you describe feeling a sense of shame or guilt or failure?

How does pursuit of “success” and “social identity” get in the way of our authentic, personal relationship values?

To get a good introduction to the Death Mother archetype, watch Massimilla’s lecture on the topic:



A Jungian book to heal the wounded feminine archetype

“In this compelling book, Jungian analysts Massimilla and Bud Harris explore the power of the Death Mother complex that ‘drains our energy, saps our vitality, and drags us down.’ Drawing upon personal experience, clinical practice, archetypal stories, and the myth of Medusa, the authors describe not only the paralyzing effects of the Death Mother complex, but the steps needed to transform it into healing and vitalizing energy. This engaging, moving work offers wisdom to both men and women who seek to liberate their deepest creative potential.”
– Susan Olson, Jungian analyst and author of By Grief Transformed: Dreams and the Mourning Process

Learn more about the book…

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