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What is Persona?

Persona or social maskPersona is the public image of someone. The original word persona means mask, so the mask we wear in public in order to impose a certain image about us: father, mother, chief, artist, official, president of republic, etc. Persona is therefore a result of social adaptation that plays an important role in dealing with peers.

The persona may be excessive, that is, it may suggest a personality that has nothing natural but it is pure fiction. This is usually the case with politicians, mass-media stars, anyone who claims to have a special role to play in social life.

If the persona is excessive, then our authentic personality evanesces until it becomes practically unrecognizable.

The individuation process starts from this level, of the persona, of the social mask, trying to break the artificial convention through awareness of its presence and function, and the attenuation of its often oppressive-imperative character.

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Jung about Persona

Persona... is the individual's system of adaptation to, or the manner he assumes in dealing with, the world. Every calling of profession, for example, has its own characteristic persona. It is easy to study these things nowadays, when the photographs of public personalities so frequently appear in the press. A certain kind of behaviour is forced on them by the world, and professional people endeavour to come up to these expectations. Only, the danger is that they become identical with their personas - the professor with his text-book, the tenor with his voice. Then the damage is done; henceforth he lives exclusively against the background of his own biography. For by that time it is written: "... then he went to such and such a place and said this or that", etc. (...) One could say, with a little exaggeration, that the persona is that which in reality one is not, but which oneself as well as others think one is. (From Carl Jung: The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, Volume 9, part I of The Collected Works, Princeton University Press, 1990, p. 123.)

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