Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Shadow Self, Jung

The Jungian concept of the Shadow is a very interesting and very valuable one. I actually write several blogs, this one and one that's much more personal that's not available to the general public---or at least it isn't easy to find. On the other one I talk a lot about the need to reconcile the dark and light aspects of the personality, the need to explore both the positive and the negative in the world in order to come to some sort of synthesis that transcends them both. Jung's concept of the shadow self is very informative on this subject.

The Shadow is that which we fear ourselves to be, or that which is the opposite of what we are consciously that gets repressed. We still have the urges, but they're banished to another part of the psyche. A strong person outwardly will have a shadow self that's extremely weak, a person that has an outwardly weak self will compensate for it by having an extremely strong shadow self. Outwardly very sexual, inwardly afraid of impotence, outwardly asexual, inwardly hypersexual. Outwardly peaceful, inwardly warlike and violent. Psychological integration demands that people become aware of the shadow in themselves through introspection and meditation, face the fears, and begin to integrate parts of the shadow into their daily life. The difference in how the shadow manifests when merged with the personality as compared to how it manifests when it's unacknowledged is that the over compensating forces in the repressed shadow are integrated into the personality in a more reasonable form. The outwardly peaceful person who in his or her shadow self is actually belligerent and mean would find by integrating the shadow into the self that he didn't need to be so peaceful, so overly peaceful and passive, and could in fact be more assertive and more aware of the non-peaceful aspects of his personality. So it's a healthy solution. Too much pure repression of the shadow can lead to it forcefully intruding on the conscious personality as some sort of psychosis and create a mental breakdown or general mental disintegration.

Anyways, I'm reading more Jung now and it's very rewarding. The concepts outlined above come from a very illuminating essay called "The archetypes and the collective unconscious", fabulous in every way. The book I'm using is The Basic Writings of C.G. Jung, which differs from most readers in that it provides long extracts of a reasonable number of works rather than a lot of brief and superficial excerpts from a lot of different works.

1 comment:

santina vitalis said...

I found your examples of the types of shadow self interesting and useful. I have been trying to integrate some aspects of my shadow, by practising daily, and your article was affirming for me.