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Reply To: The Shadow


I’ve been spending some time since my last post trying to better understand and assimilate some of the different aspects of the Shadow system within the (integration process); which I will attempt to describe within the following parameters:

Joseph mentions there are 4 basic life situations that will stimulate the crisis modes to which the Shadow responds: 1.) A major life threshold passed and not recognized. 2.) Excess Libido; such as a life goal accomplished or some kind of life change as that of retirement for instance; where life has lost it’s purpose. 3.) A threat to one’s moral position toward life. 4.) An unacceptable decision to be made; such as the taking of a life for instance. (I’m assuming these are categories pertaining to that which is played out within one’s personal myth or life course; whether by encountered circumstance or by choice.)

Because the Shadow is the blind spot of the Ego and resides within the Personal Unconscious or Landfill of the Psyche; the Ego which is it’s other half; operates above the level of the conscious plane. In the following he describes this relationship and an aspect which he calls the: “Paralax Principle”; that I thought might be helpful to this discussion:

(Joseph’s reference to the “Parallax principle”: In “Pathway’s to Bliss”; on pages 69-70; starts his description this way):

“For Jung, ego is your notion of your self. It defines the center of your consciousness and relates you to the world; it is the “I” you experience as acting on the world around you.

It has nothing to do, however, with the unconscious portion of the self. The ego normally stays above the line of consciousness. Now, suppose you’re driving a car; you’re on the left side of the road, at the wheel, mean-while, you don’t know that there is another side there. In fact you don’t even recognize that you are on one side; you think you’re in the middle. Most people drive their lives this way, according to Jung. They think their ego is who they are. They go driving that way, and, of course, the car is knocking people down on the other side of the road. How are you going to enable yourself to see that other side? Do you put another wheel up and have a friend drive you? Do you put the wheel in the middle? No! You have to know what’s over there; you have to learn to see three-dimensionally, to use the parallax principle.

So we have the self; which is the total potentiality, you might say. You have the ego, which emerges gradually in the course of childhood to a comparatively firm notion of itself. Until that ego is more or less confirmed, it is very dangerous to have experiences that the ego can’t handle. It can be blown, and you lose the ego’s grip on conscious reality entirely. Then you’re in a schizophrenic condition. You’ve got to have your ego in play.”

Joseph goes on to describe how a child grows up and the role that ego development has in relation to the Persona; but the problem in much of western society is that in later life the adult begins to see themselves as a manifestation of the Persona mask; (which Joseph calls a stuffed shirt); and then the problem becomes that of separating one’s identity from the mask they have to wear in order to function as a competent adult. (That’s just one of several possible later life crisis situations.) But what he is saying if I understand him correctly is that we need to learn how to drive or navigate our lives in the middle of the road; no matter which side we are on – “we are 3D navigating”! I hope my explanation makes sense; because he says: “we must find the middle”; (i.e. enantiodromia); that I’m attempting to describe as relates to: “Shadow Integration”. (There is much more to this subject of course; but I’ve run into this particular aspect several times over the last few years and I’ve not heard it brought up in other conversations; hence this is why I’m introducing it now.