Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Jung and Reich: the Body as Shadow, the basic concept of Shadow and Body

That's the title of a book by John Conger. It's a good book. I was reminded of it when discussing the relationship between muscle work and the stimulation of old memories with someone I know lately. Jung's idea of the Shadow does indeed seem to fit Wilhelm Reich's idea that the body contains links to memories, and that these are stored by muscles. When the muscles are stimulated, the memories can be brought to the surface because, the theory goes, when bad experiences happened the muscles clenched, and the clenching never totally went away.

Anyways, the idea of the Shadow in Jung is that it's the dark, repressed, aspect of ourselves that's stored in our subconscious mind. It's not the only denizen there, in that the Anima and the Animus are thought to be more active parts of the subconscious related to but going beyond the Shadow. The Shadow itself consists of more passive repressed aspects of the self. If the body is the Shadow, then that could mean that our subconscious mind, and the unacknowledged parts of our selves that are stored there, interact with or actually mix with our body through the nervous system, making the subconscious as a whole not limited to just our head but extended to the lower nervous system and the parts of the body it touches as a whole.

By stimulating parts of the body through vigorous exercise or through muscle or joint therapy, so the theory goes, the subconscious can be stimulated to bring parts its contents, retained in the bodily mix of lower nervous system, muscles, and mind, to full consciousness, which can then be integrated into the conscious mind and into the personality.

Which brings up the question of just where the collective unconscious lives, but that's another story.

In any case, there was a biggish article I wrote on the subject a year or so ago that I'll find, revise, and then post a link to later.

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