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Reply To: The Shadow


    Hey Drewie; so good to see you here on the new version of CoaHO. I’m sorry I’m so late in getting to this and I think the point you raise is a very valid one concerning the influence our dark side brings out in us; much of which I think has to do with the part emotion plays in firing up our shadow aspect because as you so insightfully bring up “that” is the role it plays in stimulating all those things about ourselves we don’t want to admit. It’s our blind side; it’s compulsive; (meaning we are not going to get rid of it); but as Joseph points out it also has rich potential aspects of ourselves that have never been recognized therefore it can also be a mystery dimension of transformation; such as love thy neighbor as thy self because he “is” yourself; we just can’t see it necessarily because it’s stirring up all this deep buried material that has never been given a voice. However I absolutely do not think this means this dark aspect should not be misunderstood as to it’s destructive potential either. I was reading on pages 48-49; in Calvin Hall and Vernon J. Nordby’s: “Primer of Jungian Psychology”; that Jung considered the shadow the most powerful of all the archetypes and says this is why:

    “The Shadow contains more of the basic animal nature than any other archetype does. Because of it’s extremely deep roots in evolutionary history, it is probably the most powerful and the most dangerous of all the archetypes. It is the source of all that is best and worst in man, especially in his relations with others of the same sex.

    In order for a person to become an integral member of the community, it is necessary to tame his animal spirits contained in the shadow. This taming is accomplished by suppressing manifestations of the shadow and by developing a strong persona which counteracts the power of the shadow. The person who suppresses the animal side of his nature may become civilized, but he does so at the expense of decreasing the motive power for spontaneity, creativity, strong emotions, and deep insights. He cuts himself off from the wisdom that may be more profound than any learning or culture can provide. A shadowless life tends to become shallow and spiritless.”

    The text develops this understanding further by adding other dimensions of the interplay between various components of the psyche and goes on to explain several examples of the psyche’s relationship to the shadow and summarizes these relationships at the end by saying on page 51:

    “In summary, then, it may be said of the shadow archetype that it gives to man’s personality a full bodied, three-dimensional quality. These instincts are responsible for man’s vitality, creativity, vivacity, and vigor. Rejection of the shadow flattens the personality.”

    Indeed in much of Joseph’s insights is the understanding that the shadow is our dark side of our light side; or those things we don’t want to like about ourselves that are “stimulated” by something we see or experience in others that; as you so insightfully point out; in many ways reside within ourselves; but don’t realize are there. And as you also bring up take considerable effort to bring to realization. “But” Joseph also points out that the shadow contains deep and powerful dimensions and values also that if understood can be harnessed.

    In one of my most favorite lectures of his when talking about “integration” of this shadow side as a part of the individuation process he suggests; ” you don’t have to let this thing take over your psyche; “take the guy you want to murder and beat him at golf”. This shadow reaction that comes up is often brought on by enantiodromia where there is a swing from one side of the psychic energy system to the other because of a blockage; usually by some conflict that is being worked out within the unconscious; so a symbol or reference of some kind is often conjured up by the “transcendent function” that allows the libido to break through this blockage so the psychic energy can return to it’s natural flowing state once this blockage or obstruction has been removed and the conflict which caused this blockage; (often by the “shadow”); is resolved; and a new form of transformation of consciousness has been brought about thereby resulting in a new way of seeing or understanding of that which was a barrier before.

    I won’t continue on further except to say these are my interpretations of the Jungian shadow and how I have come to understand Joseph’s explanations of this interplay within the psyche; and certainly others may disagree. (That’s why we’re here discussing these things right?) Again it’s so good to see you here diving into these discussions just like the old days. Welcome back my friend.

    One more thing I will add before I close. (In Diane Osbon’s: “Reflections on the Art of Living – A Joseph Campbell Companion”); on page 155-158; there is a great example of this symbol making process where she quotes Joseph’s use of the double triangles in the “Star of David”; and shows how a symbol like this can be used to resolve an internal conflict.) Also there are a number of points of reference contained within Darryl Sharps: “Jungian Lexicon” which you may already have access to; but just in case you don’t it is posted above and I will also leave the link to it here.