Shadow (psychology)


Shadow (psychology)

In Jungian psychology, the shadow or "shadow aspect" is a part of the unconscious mind consisting of repressed weaknesses, shortcomings, and instincts. It is one of the three most recognizable archetypes, the others being the anima and animus. "Everyone carries a shadow," Jung wrote, "and the less it is embodied in the individual's conscious life, the blacker and denser it is." [Jung, C.G. (1938). "Psychology and Religion." In CW 11: Psychology and Religion: West and East. P.131] It may be (in part) one's link to more primitive animal instincts, [Jung, C.G. (1952). "Answer to Job." In CW 11: Psychology and Religion: West and East. P.12] which are superseded during early childhood by the conscious mind.

According to Jung, the shadow, in being instinctive and irrational, is prone to project: turning a personal inferiority into a perceived moral deficiency in someone else. Jung writes that if these projections are unrecognized "The projection-making factor (the Shadow archetype) then has a free hand and can realize its object--if it has one--or bring about some other situation characteristic of its power." [Jung, C.G. (1951). "Phenomenology of the Self" In The Portable Jung. P.147] These projections insulate and cripple individuals by forming an ever thicker fog of illusion between the ego and the real world.

Jung also believed that "in spite of its function as a reservoir for human darkness—or perhaps because of this—the shadow is the seat of creativity." [Kaufman, C. Three-Dimensional Villains: Finding Your Character's Shadow [http://archetypewriting.com/articles/articles_ck/archetypes2_shadow.htm] ]

Appearance

The shadow may appear in dreams and visions in various forms, often as a feared or despised person or being, and may act either as an adversary or as a servant. It typically has the same apparent gender as one's persona. It is possible that it might appear with dark features to a person of any race, since it represents a distant and indiscriminate aspect of the mind. The shadow's appearance and role depend greatly on the living experience of the individual, because much of the shadow develops in the individual's mind rather than simply being inherited in the collective unconscious (but see description of layers below).

Interactions with the shadow in dreams may shed light on one's state of mind. A conversation with the shadow may indicate that one is concerned with conflicting desires or intentions. Identification with a despised figure may mean that one has an unacknowledged difference from the character; a difference which could point to a rejection of the illuminating qualities of ego-consciousness. These examples refer to just two of many possible roles that the shadow may adopt, and are not general guides to interpretation. Also, it can be difficult to identify characters in dreams, so that a character who seems at first to be a shadow might represent some other complex instead.

Jung also made the suggestion of there being more than one layer making up the shadow. The top layers contain the meaningful flow and manifestations of direct personal experiences. These are made unconscious in the individual by such things as; the change of attention from one thing to another, simple forgetfulness, or a repression. Underneath these idiosyncratic layers, however, are the archetypes which form the psychic contents of all human experiences. Jung described this deeper layer as "a psychic activity which goes on independently of the conscious mind and is not dependent even on the upper layers of the unconscious - untouched, and perhaps untouchable - by personal experience" (Campbell, 1971). This bottom layer of the shadow is also what Jung referred to as the collective unconscious.

According to Jung, the shadow sometimes overwhelms a person's actions, for example, when the conscious mind is shocked, confused, or paralyzed by indecision.

References

Further reading

*Abrams, Jeremiah, and Connie Zweig. "Meeting the Shadow: The Hidden Power of the Dark Side of Human Nature". Tarcher?Penguin, 1990.
*Abrams, Jeremiah. "The Shadow in America". Nataraj. 1995
*Campbell, Joseph, ed. "The Portable Jung", Translated by R.F.C. Hull, New York: Penguin Books, 1971.
*Johnson, Robert A., "Owning Your Own Shadow : Understanding the Dark Side of the Psyche", 128 pages, Harper San Francisco, 1993, ISBN 0-06-250754-0
*Johnson, Robert A., "Inner Work : Using Dreams and Creative Imagination for Personal Growth and Integration", 241 pages, Harper San Francisco, 1989, ISBN 0-06-250431-2
*Neumann, Erich. "Depth Psychology and a New Ethic" Shambhala; Reprint edition (1990). ISBN 0-87773-571-9.
*Vandebrake, Mark. "Children of the Mist: Dwarfs in German Mythology, Fairy Tales, and Folk Legends" 135 pages. A work that interprets dwarf depictions throughout German history as shadow symbols.

External links

* [http://www.shadowdance.com/shadow/theshadow.html Jung's Concept of the Shadow]
* [http://www.integralbuddha.net/topic_psychology_sthaos.htm Shadow: The Hidden Aspects of Self]
* [http://www.creativity-portal.com/bc/jill.badonsky/shadow-gifts-dark-side.html The Shadow Muse — Gifts of Your Dark Side]
* [http://www.integralbuddha.net/topic_psychology_swe.htm Shadow work example]
* [http://www.soulfuliving.com/the_shadow_process.htm The Shadow Process]
* [http://www.integralbuddha.net/topic_psychology_pt321p.htm The 3-2-1 Process]
* [http://buddhism.lib.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-EPT/simm.htm Inviting the demon. (Milarepa, Tibetan Buddhism)(The Shadowissue)] Judith Simmer-Brown, Parabola Vol.22 No.2 (Summer 1997) pp.12-18


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