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punk and gothic punk: the continued existence of a sub-culture

Compiled and written by Tobias Feltus
printed at
All material © Tobias Feltus and 2002
unless otherwise stated.


‘Man's main task in life is to give birth to himself, to become what he potentially is. The most important product of his effort is his own personality.’ – Erich Fromm1

The world is full of people who live in different places and countries. Some countries impose their culture with the threat of death and damnation, others by maintaining a level of public ignorance that keeps their populace unaware of the possibility of individuality. More socially evolved countries have a mixed population where the concept of nation becomes blurred, and subcultures have been born and live alongside popular culture.
A subculture is ‘a social group within a national culture that has distinctive patterns of behaviour and beliefs’2. First World countries are dominated by a mainstream culture with stereotypical goals, lifestyles and fashions, which are seasoned by a rich array of smaller groups of people who resemble each other with different values. Though I am a strong believer in Fromm’s statement above, I find the intellection of modern subcultures very intriguing. The part of the subject that has most titillated me, after understanding some theories such as those developed by the psychologists Jung and Fromm, is the fact that a person in the search for individuality and diversity from mainstream culture, will often adhere to a subculture that has many of the same attributes as the parent culture which, in turn, supersede the individuality originally sought.
Similarly to the way Jung found analogies between alchemy and the human psyche, I have found literature on various topics, such as psychology, to be far more pertinent to the understanding of a subculture than books actually written on subcultures. Though often hard to apprehend, Jung’s theories have been extremely helpful in understanding how to rationalize the advent of personal identity. I find it justifiable to use Jungian theories to analyse the structure of a subculture by assuming that subcultures are groups of people who, compared to popular culture, are defective, or psychotic. ‘Freud and his fellow workers became increasingly aware of the fact that any symptom was embedded in a person's character; hence that in order to understand and to cure a symptom one has to understand the total character structure.’3
Jung divides the human psyche into several parts, two of the most apparent being the Persona and the Ego4. The Ego is the I, the self, whereas the Persona is often compared to a mask. It is the way we present ourselves to others. One person generally has several variations of Persona: for example the difference in the way one presents oneself to a lover or one's parents. In main-stream culture the Persona is something that is largely imposed, yet one is encouraged to have a personal identity. The social canons are such that individuality is often forced into the closet. Peer pressure and the need for social acceptance often dictate a homogenisation of the Ego, to make things easier, more similar, and safer. Ideally a subculture should allow for there to be more individuality, contact and harmony between the Ego and the Persona, however people seem to curdle into groups in which they feel accepted. One explanation for this is that aligning with an existing group of similars one acquires an (im)personal history and form of respect5.
Assuming that being an individual is of extreme importance, and that ‘everything that is not collective is individual, everything in fact that pertains only to one individual and not to a larger group of individuals’6, then the search for a personal identity is equally important. In the book Jung Lexicon (1991), analyst Daryl Sharp paraphrases Jung by writing that ‘Whoever embarks on the personal path becomes to some extent estranged from collective values, but does not thereby lose those aspects of the psyche which are inherently collective.’7 In self-exploration and development, one does not necessarily lose those collective qualities that potentially make a person ‘cultured’, yet ideally gains qualities that individualize oneself from the mainstream. Jung, writing in a pre youth-subculture era, describes how being anti-conformist and breaking away from the Hero8 gives one a level of social superiority that is comparable to that of the gods in Greek mythology.9 This is reinforced by the fact that, discussing culture creation, he believes that a culture, of any magnitude, that puts religion and beliefs in front of ‘biological duties’ is immoral10. Unfortunately many contemporary, yet not so modern, cultures do put their beliefs before fundamental needs, desires and duties, which most certainly diminishes the opportunity for people to develop individuality.

socio-historical context.

The return of veterans from the Second World War left the world with a ‘freak occurrence caused by the conjunction of youthful optimism, material affluence, victory in one war and fear of losing another’11: the Baby Boomers. This is a generation born between 1943 and 1960 that, in the United States alone, resulted in seventeen million more babies than would have been statistically expected in normal times. The Baby Boomers were born into an optimistic world that had just made it through the horrors of the Second World War, with parents that believed in collective community values, and who were working towards the establishment of security through a solid family environment. The resulting number of adolescent Baby Boomers found themselves in a time when technology and society were evolving so fast that they seemed to be powerless. It did not take them long to realise how to gain recognition through rebellion; due to their numbers, the Baby Boomer subcultures were stronger and bigger than any that had emerged during the '50s and early '60s, such as the Hipsters, Beats and Teddy Boys.
Apart from socio-political reasons, I believe that other fundamental motivation for youth rebellion include any lack of understanding of their personal problems by older generations and the intrinsic lack of esteem that younger people experience. These problems are accentuated by an almost complete inability to provide any rational explanation for either of these issues, or the political and social chaos that younger generations feel surrounded by, on the part of the older generations. Any lack of support in the growth of a child can scar, as well as stimulate in different ways, development of the personality of a child. Jung gave an example of this in discussing how the mother, lacking the understanding of certain male problems, could push her son to look for help from a male figure; in her mind she was suggesting that he look for help from a fathering figure, but this initial refusal and redirection towards someone of the same sex often lead to homosexual tendencies in later adolescence and adulthood.12
Baby Boomers’ parents (the Silent Generation) had suffered a return to traditional values, feeling the need for normality and security in the form of a Hollywoodian traditional or ideal family (three children, a dog and a car) after the disruption of the war. The 1929 Wall Street Crash caused a retrogression in fashion at the same time as the popular birth of the cinema.13 Men’s dress had stayed much the same as it had been in the Victorian period and women’s hadn't changed much either, other than the introduction of the trouser to their wardrobe which was a liberty provided by Chanel with her ‘borrowed from the boys’ look in the ‘20s.14 Hollywood actors became icons and arbiters of style; they had the most powerful medium to influence people over the movie screen, and still now most of popular culture is broadcast through the television and motion pictures. Performers like Elvis had changed the way music was presented on stage and performed more than the music itself, which remained nearly unaltered. So these millions of young people grew up in rather traditional and rigid families, with parents who had learned how to hide their feelings and memories as far down as possible so as to be able to forget the horrors and fears they may have gone through during the war, and were still living in a state of sexual frustration, because sexual intercourse was still a taboo, contraceptives were not readily available, and those that were available were not very reliable or easy to use. Since the Silent Generation had suffered this cultural relapse, society could not cope with the idea of change, therefore the period between the beginning of WWII and the ‘60s appears to have been relatively stagnant in fashion and popular music.
During the '50s working class adolescents who underachieved at school joined gangs to obtain alternative sources of self-esteem. Though a collective form of self esteem, joining a gang begat a form of respect reinforced by the history of the existing gang, and the multiplied power of a group of insecure kids. Already at this stage such gangs adopted opposite values to those accepted by mainstream culture; qualities like sobriety, conformity and ambition were replaced by hedonism, defiance and the quest for ‘kicks’.15
Writing about Malcolm Mclaren, the painter Philip Core discusses some differences in the way peoples’ prejudice manifests in the U.S.A. and Britain: ‘Prejudice in America, stylistically speaking, has usually been sexual or financial in its bias; [...]. In England, prejudice has always been based on the class system, supported by language and dress habits, as well as by neighbourhood and education.’16 All youth subcultures seem to play with people’s prejudicial inclinations. The post World War II subcultural movements all seem to have had a strong socio-political statement that was hidden and publicized by playing with people’s intolerance and fears, which in many cases involved toying with the issues that Core mentioned. Several of the earlier British movements like the Beats and the Hipsters did this by adopting the music and some of the dress codes of other racial or class groups, whereas later the Hippies put great emphasis on their lack of style and preaching of free love, which was particularly rebellious as Britain was still very reserved and traditional, and women’s right and acknowledged capability to orgasm had only been declared in 1918 with the publication of Marie Stopes' book, Married Love.17 The Hippies’ practicing free love was not only controversial, but had only just become possible with the FDA (U.S.A. Food and Drug Administration) approval for distribution of the first reliable oral contraceptive, the Enovid contraceptive pill, in 1960.18
The Hippies were the first subculture to adopt an anti-fashion dress code that consisted of torn jeans, colourful baggy shirts, shaggy hair and bandanas. Apart from making themselves visible, their fashion obtained the near elimination of gender distinction judged by dress code. ‘...To be a hippie you must believe in Peace as the way to resolve differences among peoples, ideologies and religions. The way to peace is through love and tolerance. Loving means accepting others as they are, giving them freedom to express themselves and not judging them based on their appearance.’19 Hippies had a strong anti-materialistic ideology, which was again reflected by their dress code.20 While they were rebelling against fashion in their way, fashion itself was going against its canonic past. In 1957 Pierre Cardin launched his draped-back coat, the beginning of the ‘sack’ style, which marked the first big change in fashion, which he followed with his futuristic sci-fi Cosmocorps range of clothing in 1963. In 1960 Yves Saint Laurent elevated Beatnik and Biker styles from the street to the catwalk, and later he used printed fabrics inspired by artists like Mondrian and Warhol to fashion clothes that made a connection between the world of art and the commercial realm of fashion, that previously had been unimaginable.21 This fascinating and exciting period in fashion provided additional grounds for subcultures such as the Hippies to rebel against with the intention of irritating popular ideals.
The Hippies were most certainly the Baby Boomer’s biggest and most famous movement. Their approach to fashion was fresh, though very recycled at the same time, and their approach to drugs was an interest in exploring a different self, by ‘opening’ their eyes with mind enhancing drugs such as LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide), and mind dulling drugs such as derivatives of the Cannabis Indica plant. They were big throughout the '60s, and started off the '70s, before growing up and moving on in life. However the supply of fresh Baby Boomers continued to flow, which meant that new youth movements were to be formed, with the memory of the grandeur of the Hippies as an image to be excelled. Rock and Glam Rock were a direct evolution of what had happened over the previous twenty years. Rock was, and still is, a musical genre that came out of Elvis, Soul and the early stages of Britpop (for example the Beatles), but was slightly more powerful, both in sound and messages conveyed, and has always been accompanied by a tabloid loving hedonistic backstage lifestyle. Rock seems to have evolved fluidly from the '60s to the present, featuring some of the same bands that started it off, such as the Rolling Stones (formed in 1962, UK), and spawning many new bands and subcategories of the genre such as Death Metal (Black Sabbath, 1969, UK), Metal (Metallica, 1982, USA), Hop-Rock (Limp Bizkit, 1994, USA) and nu-Metal (Linkin Park, 1996, USA).
Rather than liberating heterosexual sex by seeing women dress like men, the seventies had much more transgression from a male point of view than previous decades. In 1967 the British parliament revised the Sexual Offences Act decriminalizing homosexual activity for people over the age of 21.22 This social development meant that homosexuality was in the public eye, was being openly experimented with, and men also explored the opportunity to wear women’s clothes and make-up. Previously people had seen and admired performers like Elvis and Liberace both of whom had bizarre effeminate and glamorous ways of dressing, but their style was not generally followed until the Glam/Glitter period in the early '70s, when musician and artist David Bowie, who is considered the king of Glam, launched himself as an androgynous fantasy-rock messiah (The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, 1972). Bowie considered himself an artist rather than a musician, which gave him a reason to be more creative with his wardrobe. The display of bisexuality in the period stimulated the use of cross-dressing for aesthetic appeal and to shock. The decorative glitter worn by Elvis and Liberace was added to Bowie's, and later others', stage costumes in order to be even more extravagant. The Glamers were dressed to shock, or at least to attract attention, however unlike the Hippies they put much effort into a refined beauty, taking inspiration from Edwardian and Victorian costumes, combined with what was readily available.
Early Punks were born out of the disappointment of having missed the '60s, the sexual transgression expressed in the '60s and early '70s and the fact that people who dressed very differently from what was popularly acceptable were still looked upon as freaks.
Picking up on some of the ideals that the Hippies sought, early Punks were a lower class social group who were angry about the way the world was run. They were anti-materialist and against the system (or establishment). Where the Hippies preached that love and peace were the solution to all world conflicts, Punks saw the solution in anarchy. The Punks emerged from a mix between black ghetto style, the 60s Mods and Glam Rock. The music they listened to ranged from early proto-Punk bands like the Ramones ('74, USA), to reggae, to veterans of Glam bands such as Iggy Pop/The Stooges ('69, USA)23. Having mixed so many stolen qualities, such as bits of clothing and music, from other existing cultures, they had no place to gather, no natural habitat. Interested in the new subculture, Malcolm Mclaren and Vivienne Westwood created a haven for Punks in their London clothing shop (often referred to as Sex, though it changed name, several times, to cater for their evolving clientele). There Punks could accessorize their aesthetic and wardrobe, under the influence of Westwood’s early fashion experiments, and also socialize and feel comfortable and accepted. Mclaren and Westwood gave Punks the opportunity to adopt fashion items that up to then had only existed in the private worlds of sexual fetishes. They adorned themselves with chains, handcuffs and studded leather straps with buckles, that previously had belonged exclusively to the realm of bondage and sadomasochism. The Punks succeeded in outraging everyone with their colourful hair, chains, body piercings and raucous behaviour. This meant that the whole subculture gained a reputation for being violent and reckless. Their lifestyle was more decadent than that of the Hippies; they often resorted to squatting or occupying buildings to set up communes and clubs. Their use of drugs was much less mystical and more self-destructive than the Hippies, as they used narcotics more frequently than psychedelic drugs, with the intention of escaping the real world that they hated so vehemently.
Mclaren led the Punk movement by producing and promoting a band that was to become one of the image carriers for the subculture. This was the Sex Pistols. Between them and the shop, Mclaren secured himself as an arbiter of a subculture, which combined with his egocentricity, provided him with the conviction of having created the whole Punk style on his own. Due to a combination of things such as the magnitude of the cultural crucible that the Punks were originally born out of, and the fact that their pseudo-creator was not specifically interested in the subculture itself but in how much of a profit he could make out of it, the high moment of the Punks only lasted a few years, approximately from their beginning in the summer of '76, to the early '80s when Goths and New Romantics took over.
By 1979 sufficient numbers of people and bands had moved away from the Sex Pistols and their ideals that the media identified the beginning of another new culture. Because of their less belligerent music, early Goths were referred to as Positive Punk or later ‘Posi-Punk’24, however the media picked up quickly on the opportunity to give the new branch of Punks a proper, independent name. On a BBC Radio One documentary, talking about Bernard Sumner (Joy Division / New Order) Tony Wilson, the founder of Factory Records (24/01/1978), Joy Division’s record company, recounted that ‘Bernard said, “it (punk) only allowed the expression of a simple emotion. Sooner or later, someone is going to take the simplicity of the instrumentation, the power of its simplicity, its attitude, and express more complex emotions.” Punk would just say fuck you! Someone had to use punk and say we are lost - that happened to be Joy Division.’25
The exact moment in which the term Goth was first used to describe the arising group of post-Punks seems to be in doubt. Accordingly in 1974, Bowie described the band Diamond Dogs as being Gothic; he may well have been the first person to use the term; considering how much he influenced the fashion worn by early Goths, there is a good chance that the term derived from his usage. Presumably his use of the word was referring to the following definition of gothic: ‘of or relating to a style of fiction that emphasizes the grotesque, mysterious, and desolate’26, a title that would have been applied in light of the Goths, a Germanic culture who lived in the early Christian era. Apparently the first dateable use of the term gothic to distinguish the musical genre was by Tony Wilson, who described the band Joy Division as being gothic compared to mainstream pop music when interviewed by Mary Hannon on the BBC 2 TV program Something Else (15/09/1979)27. Even though the term was officially coined in 1979, it didn't become commonly used until around 1983, at which point it was used as a name rather than an adjective: it became Goth as opposed to Gothic. Filtering through and emerging out of the Punks, the Goths and New Romantics were more tame and less colourful. Though later in the Eighties the New Romantics seem to have merged with the Goths, they were a crossover between the sort of Victorian retro that the Glam period had experimented with, bonded to neo-glam music such as Ultravox ('74, UK), Duran Duran ('78, UK) and Spandau Ballet ('79, UK). They saw the future as being retro, not space-age futuristic, hence picked out theatrical costumes and re-proposed them as modern attire. The Goths were just Punks with more taste. Where the Punks dressed to shock at the cost of aesthetic harmony, Goths tried to dress in as harmonious a way as was possible. Their main trademark was the consistent use of black, from hair to shoes, as opposed to the Punks who had a habit of mixing green hair with red tartan and maroon boots.

a comparison of archetypes.

Jung identified five archetypes that describe how various aspects of our psyche work. ‘Archetypes are, by definition, factors and motifs that arrange the psychic elements into certain images, characterized as archetypal, but in such a way that they can be recognized only from the effects they produce.’28 He saw that our psyche was characterized by five main archetypes: the Persona, the Ego, the Shadow, the Anima/Animus, and the Self. The reason why I bring these aspects of the human psyche up is that I believe them to be an extremely interesting way of analysing the structure of a subculture, as if it were made up of only one person. Since subcultures and generations are defined by common ideologies, period, music, dress code, etc., it is rather easy to relate each quality to a psychical archetype.

The Persona.
The first thing an average person notices about someone in the street, who belongs to a subculture that uses a distinctive dress code, is the way they present themselves to the public, their street-worthy Persona. The Persona is a mask; it is the exterior person that we project towards others. Though Jung wrote about it in the singular, most people have several variations on their Persona. For example, when addressing people of a different status, people will speak in different ways, of different things to different people, in different situations.
From a historical point of view, the Punk subculture seems to count mostly on its social statement: politics and Persona. The whole culture is based around a deep anger towards the way the world is governed and looks, hence Punks felt the need to be as insulting as they felt insulted. Believing that people gave too much importance to insignificant symbols, they wore the swastika as a statement of their indifference towards its connotations. Other symbols that were used and misused by Punks were the safety pin: a symbol they used to ridicule other symbols as it had no meaning whatsoever, and the Queen of England, who is a contemporary symbol of the past with little modern relevance. The height of their lack of respect towards the Queen was the Sex Pistol’s version of the song God Save the Queen, and the graphics that followed it.
Punks’ dress code was cacophonous. Fuelled and supplied by McLaren and Westwood, their trade mark appearance involved Dr. Martens or military surplus boots, tight jeans, often torn and splattered with bleach, T-shirts painted with anarchistic symbols or writing and the collar and sleeves cut out, a tattered, studded leather bikers’ jacket with a similar paint job, a chain and padlock or dog collar as a necklace, multiple ear piercings, often filled with safety pins, and big colourful hair, frequently done up in a mohican. There was, and still is, a lot of variation in their appearance, however the general aesthetic of mixing colours and styles, and their general love for unattractive clothes remains. Today one can still observe them in groups sitting, for example, on the bridge over Camden Canal, London. The way they dress and loiter in groups in public places gives them an apparent air of outlaw power.
My research indicates that most Goths have in common the fact that they were taunted as kids for being weird. For example Mary Mortis ( was a normal looking little blond girl, but since she was shy and had slightly longer fingernails than other ten year olds, her peers called her a witch. In her case it got bad enough that a group of her neighbourhood ‘friends’ attempted to burn her in a bonfire whilst chanting 'burn the witch!'.
Goths’ way of presenting themselves is more of a reflection of their inner self than that of Punks. Goths often are rather complex people, who are interested in many things, and yet are quite shy. Their shyness is cloaked by the fact that they frequently overdress. Much of Goths’ attire is inspired by the search for the ultimate mysterious beauty, which often involves following aesthetics inspired by early vampire films, Edwardian and Victorian fashion and nineteenth century dolls. Though not always true, stereotypically Goths are insecure people, hence they adopt the principle that ‘Clothes Make the Man’29. An elaborated version in David Cronenberg’s film Spider (2002), states that clothes make the man, but if there is not much of a man, then more clothes are necessary. Goths’ Persona is often a reserved, intellectual character dressed in an aura of melodramatic flamboyancy.
Much more vain than Punks, some Goths will go out of their way to make themselves as pristinely beautiful as possible. Often this involves the use of corsets to contain and re-shape unwanted body mass, dyeing hair black, careful manicure and extravagant make-up. Unlike Punks, where femininity seems to be laid back even by women, Goths give much more importance to their feminine side. Most women try to accentuate their womanly features with the help of corsets, make-up, and skimpy or low cut clothes; at the same time men are not afraid to wear eyeliner and nail polish, and sometimes even skirts. Being post-Punk, Goths have chosen to take on an image that is much less intimidating and more refined. One would never see a group of Goths hanging about a public place with the apparent intention to intimidate others; Goths are already shy, so would have no natural intention to intimidate, though some people do find large amounts of black, leather and vampiresque fangs frightening.
A stereotypical image of a male Goth would involve winklepicker (pointy toed) boots, tight black jeans, a baggy black shirt, pale foundation, black eyeliner and backcombed or crimped long black hair. The stereotypical female would wear platform heeled shoes, fishnet stockings, a long black velvet skirt, a leather or PVC corset, similar makeup and long flowing black hair. In the past decade many subcategories of Goth have added themselves to the general subculture, none of which are to be confused with the Goth-like nu-metal subgroup referred to as Spooky Kids who are constantly criticised in newspaper articles for their behaviour as Goths. To help classify the subcategories of Goth, I have chosen to aid myself with the use of Latin names for a comic academic appeal. Some of the more prominent subclasses of the Goth proper (gothus gothus) are:
The original Gothic Punk (gothus gobbus), who looks much like a Punk, though wearing only black and white.
The Geeky Goth or Role-Playing Goth (gothus geek), characterized usually by a more sloppy appearance and physique. They often wear Dr. Martens boots, tight black jeans and a black t-shirt portraying the image of a dragon or a band name.
The Vampire/Witchy Goth (gothus paganus), often gender separated, has an aesthetic inspired by the Victorian image of vampires and witches. She wearing a jellyfish like skirt with purple and red satin inserts and black lace, him wearing a velvet cape, a shirt with giant cuffs, and fangs, and will possibly be found drinking a red beverage out of a goblet, which is actually just cider and blackcurrant.
The Cybergoth (gothus cyber) is the most modernized group of Goths. Taking inspiration from Japanese Manga and other comics such as Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin’s Tank Girl, the Cybergoth wears more colours, often UV reactive, brightly coloured hair extensions, high platforms and other UV reactive jewellery. They listen to more modern gothic-techno and techno music, such as the bands Apoptygma Berzerk ('86, NO) and VNV Nation ('90, UK).

The Ego.
Jung stated that the ideal person would have all five components of the psyche in perfect balance and harmony with each other. Unfortunately, he also said that this goal is very rarely reached before death. On the other hand it is the series of imbalances that makes the world so interesting. If everyone were to be perfectly in balance, then the world would look like a scene from George Orwell’s 1984 (1949).
The Ego is the centre of consciousness. It is the I. It is the most central and intimate part of the psyche. As Jung describes it, ‘The Ego, the subject of consciousness, comes into existence as a complex quantity which is constituted partly by the inherited disposition (character constituents) and partly by unconsciously acquired impressions and their attendant phenomena.’30
Many qualities in Punks’ behaviour indicate that their whole psyche was Persona dominated. It seems that their prime point of interest was to exist by the reaction they got from people, which was primarily influenced by the way they looked and behaved. Because of this I can say that Punks live in a condition where the Ego is dominated by the Persona.
Though still very interesting to look at, Goths’ shyness and reflection of their Ego in their Persona indicate very clearly that Goths' Persona is driven by their Ego. This seems potentially more healthy as it is the inner conflict that influences the aesthetic, as opposed to the aesthetic providing and supporting an Ego.

The Shadow.
The Shadow is possibly the most interesting part of the subcultural being. The most obscure and intimate part of an individual is the part of the subconscious that contains the qualities that one represses and hides. The Shadow can be described as the thing that a person has no desire to be. ’A man who is possessed by his Shadow is always standing in his own light and falling into his own traps. Whenever possible, he prefers to make an unfavourable impression on others.’31
The Shadow is the dark area of our mind that contains images, feelings and experiences that have been repressed or not recognized by our Ego. It is made up of hidden or unconscious aspects of ourselves that are neither good nor bad. It is the wastebasket for bad memories and unopened gifts. ‘The Shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the Shadow without considerable moral effort.’32
Punks’ Shadow contains all of the things they hate and fear the most. Therefore, it contains symbols of organized power and homogenized culture. Combined with the fact that a person is particularly vulnerable to being possessed or driven by their Shadow when under the influence of mob psychology, drugs and alcohol,33 one can establish that the Shadow is responsible for a lot of subcultural behaviour.
A Goth’s Shadow contains an infinite list of events experienced or fears of the unknown. From abuse received as a child, to the fear of becoming like one’s boring neighbour, to being given verbal abuse on the street for being different. In the case of the Goth, I believe that the Shadow, rather than possessing, gets projected into the Persona in such a way that it is visible to outsiders and attracts more attention than one would see in a Punk, or member of a popular culture.

The Anima/Animus.
According to Jung, the Anima/Animus archetypes are meant to operate as moderators in our psyche, to keep us within reason on opinions, by being an archetype or subconscious representative of the opposite sex. Again, these are ideally meant to be in balance, though I find it much more interesting when the Anima/Animus plays a larger role than it ought. ‘Turned towards the world, the Anima is fickle, capricious, moody, uncontrolled and emotional, sometimes gifted with daemonic intuitions, ruthless, malicious, untruthful, bitchy, double-faced, and mystical. The Animus is obstinate, harping on principles, laying down the law, dogmatic, world-reforming, theoretic, word-mongering, argumentative, and domineering. Both alike have bad taste: the anima surrounds herself with inferior people, and the animus lets himself be taken in by second-rate thinking.’34
The Anima/Animus is the archetype of the opposite gender that plagues our conscience. The Anima is the female archetype and complex in the male Psyche, the Animus that of the female psyche. The Anima/Animus plays an important role in balancing emotions, ‘the Anima . . . Intensifies, exaggerates, falsifies, and mythologizes all emotional relations with his work and with other people of both sexes.’35
Punks’ Anima/Animus seems to play a very small role in men; the Animus possibly has a stronger role in Punk women, as they are rather masculine in behaviour and attire. Punks’ Persona and Ego have a macho anger and violence about them that indicates that these archetypes have very little control over the Ego and Persona. This is another point that reinforces the fact that Punks’ Ego is overruled by the Persona and the Shadow, almost as if the archetypes were in a stack and the further down the stack the less influence the archetypes have on the outside of the person.
Where Punks seem to be driven by their Animus, regardless of gender, it would almost seem that Goths are run by their Anima, regardless of gender. Of course these are gross generalizations, however most Goth men are in good touch with their Anima, which manifests in a lot of cross gender friendship, cross dressing and promiscuity. In the Goth culture the role of the Anima/Animus creates a harmony that is both visually and environmentally perceptible as there is a friendly compatibility that is unnoticeable amongst Punks. Being in a Punk club is almost like being in an empty room full of people, whereas being in a Goth club is quite a warm and welcoming experience where both masculinity and femininity are acceptable. From the above one could say that Goth and Punk each represent the Anima and Animus of a hypothetical larger culture.

The Self.
The Self is the folder in which all of the archetypes are kept, it is the whole person, as a close friend may perceive you, the self is the last point of discussion that wraps up all of the previous observations. It is the most important archetype of the human psyche, though it carries no particular definition. The Self is the part of our subconscious that it is hardest to develop as it contains all of the other influencing archetypes, and its development depends on the balance of all the other elements.
On the whole Punks come across as a malfunctioning or dysfunctional social prototype where each and every archetype is slightly out of place. They were a very strong culture in their short lived prime time, however their brief reign may have well been due to their psychological imbalances, as well as the fact that they were such a cacophonous mix of other cultures and genres.36 I assume that the reason many Punks evolved out of the Punk style and into other subcultures like Goths and New Romantics, had to do with the fact that they grew up, and hence gained a psychological maturity which simply led them on to a different lifestyle in which they were more harmonious with themselves.
Having evolved out of Punk, and already being more Ego conscious, Goths are more harmonious within themselves and their culture, which must be a great contributor to their longevity. Having started out by rebuilding an existing subculture, rather than stealing bits from many different cultures, also influenced the integrity and long existence of the subculture. I cannot say that Goths’ psyche is in perfect balance, far from it, however their imbalance is reflected directly in their lifestyle and dress code. This is also mimicked by the Goth scene itself, as if it were a living organism. The entire Goth scene seems to encapsulate the whole decorated shyness obsessed with aesthetic trivia and personal insecurities, which I believe to be the main reason for which people find themselves part of the subculture in the first place. The same way gang members feel comfortable in their gang, sharing their social difficulties and needs, and Punks felt comfortable in their little world of social anger and need to irritate, Goths feel at home in their little cradle of darkness surrounded by others who have similar perceptions of the way popular culture despises their irresponsible public exposure of their internal issues.


It is hard to make any judgment on why certain subcultures have lasted longer than others. However, in my study of the topic, I can make certain observations as to why the Gothic subculture has prevailed over others to date.
Most of the numerous subcultures and youth groups that have sprung up over the last fifty odd years have been constructed around social and political beliefs. In the case of the Hippies some of the circumstances that they rebelled against were the repressed and standardized lifestyle of their parents’ generation, the Vietnam War, popular fashion and the recent availability of the contraceptive pill. All of these were circumstances that were not going to be current indefinitely. The pill became a standard form of contraception, the Vietnam War came to an end, and so forth. Most of the founding elements that made the Hippies feel like a group became irrelevant, or other personal issues became more important in peoples’ lives, so the subculture got diluted and burnt out leaving space for other forms of social experimentation.
Punks based most of their ideology on socio-political issues that, once again, were not permanent conditions. To create their rebellion they stole attributes from numerous other existing cultures and jumbled them together creating an unstable foundation on which to live. They did break many rules and conventions, made it hard for any other group to live up to their reputation, and revolutionized the palette of aesthetics for future generations. However, the people and political situations that supported and fed them changed. Many of their bands and image carriers fell apart and out of the public eye. For example the Sex Pistols came to an end on the second of February 1979, when Sid Vicious, bassist, died of a drug overdose, and Mclaren and Westwood lost interest in them seeing new financial opportunities by supporting other emerging subcultures.
In the early ‘80s groups of post-Punks started to change their attitude and give more importance to their personal needs, problems and fantasies, rather than trying to change the world. By doing this, the early Goths got themselves into a situation where they were creating a social group that based their common ground on themselves, rather than worldly variables. By creating a group of people who had similar musical interests and social desires, that based their association with each other on their Persona, that reflected their personal Ego issues, the Goths created a subculture that, unlike most others, was based on values that would never go out of date.
In the same way that the Fetish culture revolves around peoples fantasies, some of us live on the perimeter of the Goth culture, and frequent Goth clubs because of the fact that we have a distorted sense of reality where we long to see materialized fantasies. The Goth club scene is one environment in which fantasy is externalised in the way that people dress and behave as I have tried to show by giving the example of the Manga image and the Cybergoth. Therefore one could suggest that one is more inclined to keep a subculture alive because it looks good, and fulfills one's fantasies, though I still believe that the psychological aspect of the subculture’s constituents is most likely to be the most influential factor in its longevity.


1. Erich Fromm, taken from no proper bibliography available.


3. Erich Fromm, Psychoanalytic Characterology and its Application to the Understanding of Culture, 1949,



6. C.G. Jung, The Collected Works Vol.6, Routledge, 1977, p.448 par. 756

7. Daryl Sharp, Jung Lexicon, 1991,

8. ‘The hero symbolizes a man’s unconscious self, and this manifests itself empirically as the sum total of all archetypes and therefore includes the archetypes of the father and of the wise old man. To that extent the hero is his own father and his own begetter.’
C. G. Jung, The Collected Works Vol. 5, Routledge, 1981, p. 333 par. 516

9. C.G. Jung, The Collected Works Vol.17, Routledge, 1977, p. 174 par. 298,299,300

10. C.G. Jung, The Collected Works Vol.17, Routledge, 1977, p. 85 par. 159

11. Howard Smead,; he has the generation running 1945-65, whereas the following confirm the 1943-60 range:,,

12. C.G. Jung, The Collected Works Vol.17, Routledge, 1977, p. 159 par. 272

13. Harriet Worseley, Decades of Fashion, Konemann, 2000, p. 234

14. Harriet Worseley, Decades of Fashion, Konemann, 2000, p. 122

15. Dick Hebdige, Subculture, the Meaning of Style, Routledge, 1979-2001, p. 76

16. Philip Core, The Original Eye: arbiters of 20th century taste, Quartet, 1984, p. 170



19. Skip Stone, The Way of the Hippy, from Hippies from A to Z,

20. Jim Harris,

21. Harriet Worseley, Decades of Fashion, Konemann, 2000, p. 290, 513


23. Dick Hebdige, Subculture, the Meaning of Style, Routledge, 1979-2001, p. 25

24. Richard North, Positive Punk, NME February 1983,

25. Tony Wilson, 2002,



28. C.G. Jung, The Collected Works Vol.11, Routledge, 1977, par. 222, note 2, p. 149

29. William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act I, Scene III

30. C.G. Jung, The Collected Works Vol.17, Routledge, 1977, p. 91 par. 169

31. C.G. Jung, The Collected Works Vol.9i, Routledge, 1975, p. 123 par. 222

32. C.G. Jung, The Collected Works Vol.9ii, Routledge, 1978, p. 8 par. 14

33. Barbara McManus, 1999,

34. C.G. Jung, The Collected Works Vol.9i, Routledge, 1975, p. 124 par. 223

35. C.G. Jung, The Collected Works Vol.9i, Routledge, 1975, p. 70 par. 144

36. Dick Hebdige, Subculture, the Meaning of Style, Routledge, 1979-2001, p. 25


Core, P - The Original Eye: arbiters of 20th century taste (Quartet, 1984)
Hebdige, D - Subculture: the Meaning of Style (Routledge, 1979-2001)
Jung, C - The collected works of C J Jung: Volume 17 (Routledge, 1977)
Jung, C - The collected works of C J Jung: Volume 6 (Routledge, 1977)
Jung, C - The collected works of C J Jung: Volume 5 (Routledge, 1981)
Jung, C - The collected works of C J Jung: Volume 11 (Routledge, 1977)
Jung, C - The collected works of C J Jung: Volume 9i (Routledge, 1975)
Jung, C - The collected works of C J Jung: Volume 9ii (Routledge, 1978)
Polhemus, T - Style Surfing: What to Wear in the Third Millennium (Thames and Hudson, 1996)
Polhemus, T - Street Style (Thames and Hudson, 1994)
Roach, M - Dr. Martens (AirWair Limited, 1999)
Rubinstein, R - Dress Codes: Meanings and Messages in American Culture (Westview Press, 1995)
Thornton, S - Club Cultures: Music, Media and Subcultural Capital (Polity press, 1995-2001)
Worsley, H - Decades of Fashion (Konemann, 2000)
web addresses:

All websites were consulted around and prior to November 2002. All quotations were rechecked on 11/12/02.