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The Shadow

Viewing 15 posts - 16 through 30 (of 34 total)
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      How we read a symbol and a sign come from 2 different points of emotional interpretation as Joseph points out; one usually has to do with information of what one might call an ambivalent nature; whereas the other is much more emotionally connected. Jung states emotion is the pathway to making the unconscious conscious; so that what had previously been interpreted one way is now seen or interpreted in a completely different one. (Joseph points to the difficulty involved when he says “concretizing” a symbol as a “fact” instead of seeing it as a “metaphor” pointing past itself gets in the way of how we emotionally interpret something. In other words: “God thinks he is a fact; instead of realizing he is a metaphor.” Or in Jungian or Campbell speak: “these are categories of thought”.)

      The Shadow resides in what Joseph called the landfill of the psyche so that this neglected unrealized aspect has been interpreted from a unrealized or uninformed point of view. The dark side of emotion as Jung and Joseph points out contains terrifying potential as well as tremendous potential for realization if properly understood within the right context. For instance if one says you and the other are one; this is the Jesus in you coming into realization instead of seeing the other person as someone you dislike, fear, or hate; much less disagree with.

      In the above clip is a set of symbols in a cigar box that conjure up a certain context theme that the movie represents of Scout’s childhood from which the story evolves concerning Boo Radley and his relationship to her as it evolves thoughout the film toward realization to which I will refer to in a closing clip that it returns to at the end! This juxtaposition between fear of Boo to tenderness and compassion against the back drop of tremendous social upheaval concerning Tom Robinson’s trial and racial animosity provides a life lesson concerning these above Archetypal influences and the way her point of view is forever changed. So therefore this Shadow archetype can now be re-interpreted in a completely new way as a vehicle of consciousness.

      For me personally the scene resonates deeply from personal experience so that every time I see this clip it pulls up certain memories that hold powerful childhood experiences that can now be re-interpreted in a completely different context that unlocks what had previously been extremely painful can now be seen as transformative within the context of my own story.

      Now more than ever I think Joseph’s understanding of Jung’s thoughts concerning the threat of man’s Shadow side to his very existence hang on understanding how integrating this neglected and unrealized side of man’s animal nature hold the key to his survival! And by understanding man’s vulnerability to Shadow stimulation within emotional manipulation; and this relationship to society as witnessed now through social media; this toxicity concerning conflict is now becoming apparent in full view through the duality that you mentioned above. In other words: “one side wins and the other side loses without seeing the other in you”; so that the humanity is lost within the context of the struggle and the outcome can become an all or nothing; or even worse a complete disaster where both sides lose taking out the support structure as well; as in the environment that holds everything together.


      (An Addendum change): I hope my explanation makes the necessary connection between these various dots or attempts at description. I have substituted a different closing clip which I referred to that should better illustrate my point which goes into further depth concerning the symbolism used in the cigar box and it’s relationship to the understanding of who Boo Radley is and the difference between shadow projection of the collective unconscious and Stephen’s point concerning projection of the personal unconscious.

      Scout experiences the collective projection that Boo is considered crazy and a madman and to be feared. In the climax she then discovers that Boo has saved both her and her brother and is actually a shy, gentle, kind, and sensitive person; much like the Mocking Bird described by her father earlier in the film; that has been misunderstood and her understanding is transformed by this realization involving her personal unconscious which is brought to fruition in the closing scenes of the film:


        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.



          Just read the last post steep & swift (‘diagonal’), it resembles a reading recently about one of the oldest Sumerian stories: the decent of Inanna, queen of heaven and earth into the great below, to be rendered into a corpse by her shadow sister Ereshkigal, queen of the underworld, who appears to be her same identity in opposite form. To coincide ultimately, in the end. Written in cuneiform tablets approx 3000BC, but still in fashion.


            Referring to the last paragraph of jamesn. post 4148, Joseph Campbell on the Grail legends explains this known mythical hero, Parceval, as the one who seeks that middle, and it is his (french) name: par ce val – through the middle (of the valley), both steep sides to avoid.

            But after depth-reading jamesn. post again, it shows both the relation between mythology and psychology – or the psyche, and that this very dual vision (parallax) is at the root of our being. Once at the threshold of those crisis, this very shadow part of human consious ego responds in an unknown mode (underworld Ereshkigal kills here upperworld Inanna egoself once confronted… on her own grounds!) whereas to operate as a decent human amongst other equal humans, one has to cope with the earthly survival, deal with them as friends or foes (polarisations), and negotiate ones purpose and goals to personal (imprinted or gifted) goals. On that plane, there is no room for a shadow. But at night, in our dreams appears our devils, dracula’s and ghosts our shadow wishes to dance with.

            Where Easter, in spring, is the celebration of the renewal of the consious ego life, on the opposite we encounter Halloween in autumn, the celebration of the subsleep unknown is replayed in costumes and with decoration. The same of old on the southern hemisphere of course, but with other (non-northern classic) names.


              There is a lot of great material you’ve included in your 2 posts Mars; so I’ll try to address how some of these ideas connect with what I was attempting to articulate concerning my understanding of Joseph’s themes.

              As human beings we live on timeless ground that has been layered over the centuries of man’s attempt to understand his/hers meaning of existence in one form or another. And one of the understandings that Joseph continually brings up is life has no meaning within itself; (you bring the meaning to it). And the Hero theme of the Adventure is the expression of this eternal quest for meaning and understanding against a backdrop of a universe so large and overpowering in it’s scope that within it’s contemplation alone from microscopic to macroscopic a metaphor is probably the best we can do.

              Joseph explains that there is no conflict between religion and science because science is itself a manifestation of this wonder and at the same time nightmare we as living creatures are participating in. And the great myths and stories that influence our lives are vehicles of insight into a dimension for which there are no words. Yet here we are and we must try to make sense of this great Opera of which we play a part in our brief gift of time.

              Carl Jung tells us that as humans: “we are in a constant state of becoming”; and Joseph’s interpretation of this is that over the course of a human lifetime it is like the Arch of the Sun that travels from the horizon of the morning to the horizon of night. And as a metaphor this represents the life journey of an individual from that of a child to that of old age; with separate life stage tasks that must be undergone whether we are aware of them or not. And within each stage there are psychological realizations that must be assimilated for the individual to understand where they are. And one of these realization tasks has to do with assimilating and integrating the Shadow; which is the unknown and unrealized dimension of the individual of which the Ego is unaware and has been repressed down into the unconscious. And in the last half of life it starts to push up towards the conscious level or threshold demanding to be addressed.

              As you stated; these are two dimensions of the same thing; or put another way: “the union of opposites”. And because the child is now an adult many of the symbols that have informed the child have begun to change meaning; some of which are no longer relevant; and others their messages now confer very different meanings. One of the best examples Joseph uses of how a symbol can confer many different cultural interpretations is the Jewish double triangle: “Star of David”; which in Indian symbolism refers to the Chakra system of realization; (which in Jungian parlance represents the upcoming of “repression”); so the way one religious system defines something may be totally different from another. But Joseph’s point is that these are devices that throughout human history have to do with spiritual transformation or transcendence. They help human beings give meaning to something that has no meaning; (being alive “is” the meaning; or put another way: “Joyful participation in the sorrows of the world within the rapture of existence against a backdrop of life eating life; also known as the: “Ouroboros”). This is the integration principle addressing the later life task of “individuation” Jung’s theme addresses that Joseph is talking about in many of these Shadow clips.

              One of the main task ideas at work here is Shadow rejection; (which has to do with assimilation of one’s Shadow side with how one responds to life); but what makes this so difficult is becoming aware of it because it’s our blind side; (we don’t know it’s there; it’s the dark side of our light side; and we have little control over it “unless considerable effort is put forth to know it and integrate it; (which brings us back to the “Paralax system”); and trying to attain some kind of balance within both sides of our nature.

              Mars; those were very nice posts; so I hope you’ll pardon my rather clumsy attempt concerning my description about this; (at least as I understand it); and maybe Stephen, Mary, yourself, or anyone else may have something else to offer that will help shed even more light on it.


                I want to bring up something concerning why I created this topic I think has a major connection to Jung’s Shadow and Joseph’s articulations about understanding it. We are in the middle of a global mental health crisis concerning man’s ability to come to grips with what is in front of the human community. What I see developing refers not just to the virus pandemic; or the coming Climate Change and Global Warming issues facing the planet; but the human lack of ability to understand itself within this larger landscape of global concerns. Some will say this is an age old problem; (and yes this is true); but there is more going on than just political or economic or religious conflicts.

                Carl Jung saw coming down the road that Man’s Shadow had the potential to destroy the planet and all life on it unless he looked inside; which in his view is where man’s real problems reside. And until the human animal begins to address this side of his nature and come to grips with it in his view the future looked very dark indeed. (It was his greatest fear and he said so here.)

                I’m sure many who read his work and that of Joseph’s are more than aware of these concerns; and it is my feeling that the more time we spend just getting a basic understanding of the interplay of how some of these Jungian themes affect our lives the benefits are more than worth it. I can only speak for myself in how any of this knowledge has affected my life for the better; but I want to add a couple of other points that might be worth considering as we each go about our daily lives.

                Every day I read the news and see more and more heartache and suffering that many of these ideas can be of help. Think of the number of suicides, the opioid, drug, and alcohol addiction cases; the violent crime punished by our prison systems; the domestic abuse of women and children and elderly; the homeless; the people thinking only of money and the things it will buy as a substitute for self-worth. These are just a few examples of how the dark side of the Shadow can influence peoples lives.

                Religion for many is not the answer; only a substitute crutch for meaning. (Yes; of course helping others is one of most noble ideals of concern); but without understanding what’s ticking inside a person this does not adequately address their problems. And by understanding these internal dynamics and how they might pertain to an individual life one is finally able to understand some of their causes and address them. The Shadow also has positive aspects and values to offer as well; but make no mistake this is Shadow country; and Joseph knew this and profoundly understood it’s relevance.

                If this virus pandemic has had any kind of positive side in my humble opinion it would be that it’s forced us to stop and re-evaluate many of the things we feel are important. This is where the Shadow lives; and we should get to know and understand it better; and as Joseph suggests we will be the richer for this internal dialogue.


                  On # 4177:

                  Raised within the scientific dimensions (math, astronomy, politics, engineering), and the curious explanations of most common people (religion, everlasting growth, eternal abundance, paradisical life after subjugated life), that vast backdrop is a bliss for unimaginate other things beyond our simple human understanding. We are not the center of the universe, not the reason for (any) creation, less than an unnoticed comma in an unheard chitchat. Accept it or turn back to the children’s fairytale-view, or the beast’s unawareness.
                  To state the conflictness between religion and science is like equalising a god that is supposed to create everything, even that cannot be created, and noticing that water is a liquid (at room temperature). This wondrous belief in science is general with those unknown to it (buy yourself a saw in the free market temple with cheap money and you’re transformed too into a hosanna-carpenter). Science is no belief – belief is a simplified science (phrase by Joseph Campbell). How we wish to cope with it is our very personal choise imprinted by force to keep running in circles or by climbing the walls of the maze.
                  And whatever this choise, both vectors push us (and more simpler creatures with a more simpler ratio) through, if surviving long enough (aka becoming to old for reproduction) contemplating the meaning of life. Best boiling down ever done by Monty Phyton.
                  Addressing symbols as symbols, and not as a gateway to pass through, is the risk of using symbols. A cross is a sword, a star is a guide, and so on. The scientific way is to reject those transforming symbols and pass through right away. What in religious words is framed like the union of opposites, in science it is the realisation of the very duality of natural things. At the root of it there is no relation between cause and consequence, something human brains are not designed for to comprehend. The tools we use for that in science are like the symbols in religion. And both can be used for good (to understand our existence in life or our life in existence) and for cruelty like wars and slavery, either by killing or by algorithms.
                  Science threw me into this loosening and in the end completely disentangling of the cause and consequence. Life is not a zipper with two sides from bottom to top. This is a better view:
                  Consider the universe as a quantum-hiccup. It’s breathtaking until the utter chocking when all is evaporated into virtual radiation. A wink to catch the flash.
                  Frankly spoken jamesn., we are with a very few wrestling with our shadows here, but very much appriciated.


                    On # 4178:

                    On spot: how much are we consious responsable beings, most gifted of all species roaming this planet, and how much are we just beasts, hunters and prey?
                    Up until recent times, the aim was to thrive forward, for better means for mankind and the world (an aim with flaws but an aim), to raise to a universal responsible consciousness. Now, with all abundance available, we’re simply devouring everything like a biblical plague, all awareness gone. Your examples, maybe western orientated, are self-evident.
                    This is the very sign of the crisis of the species homo sapiens-sapiens: are they able to trod on the next stepstone or smash down like oversized dinosaurs not able to cope with now unfolded technical asteroid?
                    Once we are faced with our fragilities, depending on contemporain circumstances, we’re either advancing or withdrawing. Since 1985, in my view, with Reagan’s election as ‘Sugar-for-free-President’, when the western civilisation was considered (for some) as completed, no real other ‘white spots’ on the maps were to be exploited anymore, we – the cruel children – had no other way then to kill ourself.
                    What now? Is there a way out of this ego labyrinth? Common awareness spread out over all of us human beings, within one or two decades counting 10000000000 species? How, why, when, what, &c &c. I’m sorry, but I count this human species as written off. There to few (10%) on the apex to lift the rest, those in/with power (10%) to act are impaired, framed in their envious apple-grabbing. Another 10% prefer escapism in sybaritism (addiction of any kind), the majority (70%) are just numbness. Currently on the edge: how to persuade the sybarits to either understanding or empowerment, to drag the compliant masses to their sides.
                    A shadow play in broad daylight, in your convenient living room supplied by your favourite payed information straw.
                    Now, this shadow thing…


                      A lot of interesting ideas you’ve offered Mars; but I must admit I’m a little confused. So to make sure I’m understanding you correctly in relation to this topic of: “Jung’s and Joseph’s explanation of the Shadow system within the psyche”; it would help me to know what your understanding of the Shadow is and how it inter-relates with the psyche? That way I can better understand what you are saying.


                      I want to add some clarity to my question that may offer some insight to why I ask it. Mars; to me your posts were wonderfully insightful concerning many different points of view that you offered. But the Shadow thrives on projection; and as has been offered in the various clips it is that part of ourselves we don’t know; it responds to things we don’t always recognize within ourselves and often misinforms our sensibilities. As human beings we assume things that are not always accurate; and this archetypal aspect creates images that carry information the psyche must read or process.

                      The world is going through tremendous turmoil right now exacerbated by this pandemic. And it would wrong of me to assume I know what you are dealing with and thereby assume by what I read I know what you are saying. As you stated; (at least as I understood it); that there is much that is wrong with man’s ability to cope adequately with the global problems set before him; and yes; I agree as seen through a certain lens. But one of the things that Joseph mentions that may or may not fall in line with your thoughts on this is: “The world is a mess; it’s always been a mess; and you are not going to change that reality.”

                      But we are not talking about the attainment of world peace and everyone living happily ever after; we are talking about dealing with our reality the best way we can; (and this involves coming to terms with our Shadow; which often times helps to create much of this mess we have to live with). And until man as a species becomes more aware of this side of his nature the madness that helped to spread this virus will continue.

                      Where I live for instance this issue of getting people all on the same page to come to a common agreement about how to fight it is the central problem surrounding a political election where Shadow Projection is a major tactic being used to change opinions specifically about whether wearing a mask and keeping social distance has an important enough effect to stop it. (And insane as that may sound everyone is affected by those who refuse to comply. As I speak we are at record levels of infection with no end in sight until a vaccine can be produced.) Now one could say this is because of misinformation; but it also is used as a weapon of projection to create ill will. This use to be called propaganda; but it’s function is to turn a human being into something evil for political purposes; (on both sides).

                      So what does this have to do with my point? My point is learning to understand our “Shadow side of our nature” because we all do this but most of the time don’t realize it. We cast Shadow content on others when the real issues most often lie inside of us; and our task is to learn how to see this in ourselves and change our behavior. (Joseph mentions this is one of the great tasks of later life; which is part of the individuation process.)

                      Much of my earlier post concerning human suffering had to do with society as well as myself trying to see the world in a different way than just out of frustration with what is wrong with it. And learning to see my “blind side” and learning to recognize when it’s in play is part of that process. (This is one of the things I’m trying to address in this topic.) So when I asked the question concerning your understanding of the Shadow; that helps me to know we are on the same page when addressing my impression of your thoughts!

                      So; I just wanted to clear up any possible misunderstandings as to “why” I asked it. (Again; I thought your posts were great!)


                        On 4182, by paragraph

                        What to understand of the shadow, personal and general. I’ve this volume on the shelf (The Portable Jung – edited by Joseph Campbell) awaiting a thourough reading, but inclined to very personal revelations I’m postponing it until further notice… tbc. The shadow is always present: she’s my very dead but everlasting muse.
                        “… on projection…” absolutely, and the senses we’re equipped with are impaired. The assumptions we add does not reflect the reality, but add to our reality, our impresion of it: Our perception of reality is only the perception of it, and hence not the reality we can behold. Again, our senses and our imagination (-s) are impaired.
                        The archetypal view – cast imprint -, rendered to a physical appearance, alive and thriving, bursting into live, love and grieve, overcomes this to humble and to simple view and experience… if realised, but scarce.
                        Hope on on top of a copepable mess is ok. But we’re in deep trouble. No belief or hope, that’s imaginitive. {shortcut to above paragraph granted as done}
                        That’s the challange of mankind, but considering it’s nature (I’m a member of), if concluded we’re not fit. {ditto: shortcut to above paragraph granted as done}
                        It is not a matter if we, the human kind, can ‘jump over out shadow’. We are not, as any species have prooved before, capable to do so. To do so, we have to ‘dehumanise’ ourselves. A caterpiller has to give up all defences and immunity in order to convert to a mouthless butterfly… no chance here really .

                        No one really wants to meet one’s own shadow.
                        Ever saw a child realising this, dancing away from it, inescapable?
                        We’re children in this living realisation, dancing with our shadows all the way through our life. Even beyond the physical appearances and awarenesses. In the end, for better, as an individual, we simply must and have to die in order to give room to others. And what counts for individuals, regarding their ‘realisation’ of things happening, is as evident for any species, to adapt to to needs of contemporain times.

                        Gracious yours, too, of course


                          Mars; I really like the way you articulate your thoughts about this topic in this post for it gives me a much clearer picture than I had before. We all of course have our own individual way of describing things; and sometimes in conversation our impressions of what someone is saying is not always accurate. This was extremely helpful for me. The way we express ourselves with the other person in mind is so important and tone is critical because it’s so easy to misinterpret what others are saying and what they mean about something so scrutiny without bias becomes a central if not critical issue. My approach most of the time is to try and reserve any exact opinion about something until I feel I have some kind of accurate idea of the other persons thoughts about a topic or issue; but then there are times when I’m not sure so I ask. Thank you for your kind efforts in providing this for me because it helped a lot.

                          Reading what others are communicating is not always easy; and being the fallible human creatures that we are provides the perfect opportunity for the Shadow to create a little “havoc”; (which reminds me of the: “Trickster God”; whose greatest joy was often that of creating trouble between people); and as you mentioned in your reply: (“that Shadow is also us as well as them”); so our job from a Jungian perspective is to learn to know when it’s influence is present and to try and understand what it’s saying. If it’s toxic effects are left unattended and allowed to fester into antagonistic dialogue then it can totally destroy a reasonable discussion about anything. Often a good dose of diplomacy can help sort the problem issue out; but “projection of the Shadow” can become a huge concern.

                          This was such a major concern back on the old retired JCF CoaHO forums that several moderators were kept constantly busy watching for discussions that would get out of hand; and there was a special 19 page thread dedicated specifically to discourse that ran for about 5 years that explored various areas that one might encounter and how to think about responding. “Tone” for instance was a huge factor; also realizing that a “text based” medium played a huge part because a person has to divine or intuit what someone else is saying because words and text convey only so much; and depending on the mood you are in you may misinterpret or read your own meaning into what the other person is saying. (It was called the: “Art of Discourse” and is located in the: “Conversation with a Thousand Faces” section of the discussions for those who may be interested. Click on the Red Button to the left of this page for access.)

                          One of the things Joseph felt was important that he brought up numerous times was we should try and know our shadow; not that we should act on it; but to know and recognize it in our lives. But it also represents a kind of vault that contains gold of unrealized potential and values that we are not aware of as well as this dark side of our nature; so this interior journey we must take also contains another dimension of ourselves that lies waiting to be discovered as well as our dark unknown side that needs to be controlled. Sometimes it may be in the form of an inner child that needs healing; or a dragon that must be battled to overcome your own fear; or any number of other possibilities that lie within you that need addressing. One symbol Joseph often refers to is the snake because it sheds it’s skin; this represents the old life that must die for new birth to begin. And indeed this aspect of our nature has manifestations revealed in different cultures throughout human history. But I often think of the one he used: “the fates lead him who will; he who won’t they drag”.

                          From pages: 68-83; in: “Pathways to Bliss” Joseph goes into much deeper detail about how the Shadow inter-relates to the other aspects of the Psyche; such as the: the Ego, the Persona, the Anima/Animus; and what particular situations might stimulate a certain reaction or response; but it is not something that will just reveal itself without some considerable effort because it’s that part about yourself that lays hidden; and Joseph reminds us it would be wise for us to find out what that something is. For more about this subject so you’ll understand better how it affects us by looking up the term “Shadow” on Daryl Sharps: “Lexicon”: here.


                          Addendum: Mars; I have altered the last part of this post by removing what I quoted from you since after rereading I realized it was not quite accurate and instead left a referral link highlighted by using the word (here) to click on at the end of the last sentence above. For anyone reading this: Sharp’s Lexicon is a recognized (go to source) used by many mental health professionals for clarity with many of Carl Jung’s ideas used in his terminology. It is especially helpful for better understanding some of the finer nuances and ambiguity often encountered concerning Jung’s cosmology and how these terms might be applied because many of them are either interdependent or interactive with each other.

                          (So to use a couple of metaphors when first learning about Jung): it’s like getting an accurate picture of the overall car you are riding in and how to drive it; as well as how all the moving parts work together.” “It’s a tool that can be used to help one recognize and find out; as Joseph mentions: “some of the things that are ticking in us”. (As for myself I can’t say enough about how helpful this little Lexicon has become and use it constantly when attempting to better figure out what I’m reading or what somewhat someone else is referring to. Often cross-referencing can become a problem and many people may have somewhat slightly different interpretations of the same term; and this particular resource is one of the most recognized as a standard credible reference to go by.)


                          Hey all,

                          What an amazing conversation. Well I just want to add something at this point.  Jung said.

                          The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real.

                          Now Stephen said that the shadow is not evil but I think as long as its a “shadow” its always evil or immoral as far as the ego can “see” and its only when integrated that can be understood as something positive, right? A trick I learned over the years once I think something as immoral its always a good time take a step back and reflect upon it. Anyways just some extra thoughts.


                            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.


                            Hi Drewie! You write

                            I think as long as its a “shadow” its always evil or immoral as far as the ego can “see” and its only when integrated that can be understood as something positive, right?”

                            Well put! To the ego (“I,” “me,” my experience/perception of myself), the Shadow — the part of myself I can’t see and so resides in the dark (the shadow that consciousness casts) — is experienced as threatening, and hence evil. This includes good contents as well as bad.

                            Just as the ego contains favorable and destructive attitudes, so the shadow has good qualities––normal instincts and creative impulses.”

                            Man and His Symbols
                            C.G. Jung

                            If from before I could form complete sentences the absolute certainty that “big boys don’t cry” had been impressed upon me by my parents and continually reinforced by the social order in which I am raised, then it’s no surprise that as an adult male I might be at the least uncomfortable with emotion, even to the point of experiencing loathing for males who do express sensitivity. I can’t entertain the thought that I have feelings even though I do, for that would mean I am weak – so I avoid seeing that in myself, stuff those feelings back into the shadows (what is dark and unknown to the waking me), but I can see that in others, so I project my self-loathing outwards. To me, my shadow is evil, but I see that shadow in them, not me.

                            However, sensitivity and emotion is not in itself evil, though it may feel that way to me.

                            Hence the moral problem Jung alludes to, which isn’t to suggest the shadow itself is immoral; rather, it takes tremendous moral effort on the part of waking consciousness to break past the default perception of the shadow as evil and embrace its contents as part of one’s whole self.

                            Of course, no matter how much we embrace the process of integration, there will still always be shadow, still parts of ourselves not directly known to consciousness that make us uncomfortable to contemplate at best – but being open to the shadow aspects of one’s being does help depotentiate the shadow, blunt the destructive powers of the darkness. (Ironically, rather than the shadow itself necessarily being evil, it can compel the person – or the society – whose shadow it is to perform horrible evil.)

                            From this understanding of my shadow, over the years I have asked my wife to quell the impulse to reach out to wake and soothe me when I am agitated at night, clearly experiencing a nightmare. Only rarely do the dream terrors chase me awake – and when they do, I find myself marveling at and attentive to what it is that is striving to emerge from my unconscious. Sometimes it takes a few days (and a succeeding dream or two) to process what is going on, but I end up with so much more information about myself, and a broader, deeper sense of who I am once I am aware of and partner with what I have been running from, metaphorically speaking.

                            But most of the time my wife tells me my nightmares resolve themselves without waking, and I settle back into peaceful slumber. Often I do remember the dream, and the resolution: the murderous thug I’m trying to lock out of the house enters, and the dream shifts as that figure morphs into someone offering me food or drink, or events take a positive, even celebratory turn (that’s a generic example – remembered vignettes vary, but that does get across the trajectory).  And that shift mirrors the shift that seems to follow in waking life.

                            But now I ramble. Glad to see you and James reviving this fascinating conversation . . .




                              Wow; what a wonderful additional followup Stephen; and adds so much rich material to contemplate moving deeper into this discussion of endless fascination concerning our Shadow life. I always learn so much from these insights you bring; especially concerning your understanding of dreams and how they can inform us about who we are and what’s going on inside. I still keep pen and paper beside my bed where I can jot stuff down upon waking from a dream I think is trying to tell me something and can later reflect on it to see if I can figure out it’s reference.

                              Drewie; if you have not seen it Stephen also has put together a tremendous thread of dream related reference material in the 1,000 Faces category of these forums.


                              (Also) it’s worth mentioning in case you didn’t know concerning something “I forgot to do”; which is to hit the (reply) button in the box of the specific entry you are replying to “before” entering any text. (You will notice my earlier reply located below this one is now out of sync with the ordered sequence of entries because I forgot to do this.) This feature is located in the top right corner of each post and is a special feature Stephen has added which “indents” that reply allowing a person to respond to a specific entry without it becoming lost in a conversation with multiple participants. Click on this “reply button” (first) before entering your text in the entry you are addressing in the top right corner of the post. If you click on that “before” you enter any text your reply will be entered as a response to “that” particular person’s entry which helps to keep order within a multiple person topic. Also in the top right corner is an entry (number) which will help you to locate that post should you forget where it is. This is a very handy feature to help everyone keep track of who said what and when they said it in a multiple page topic instead of just scrolling through endless posts until you locate what you are trying to address. (It’s a relatively new feature that’s been added recently to the forum discussions and should become invaluable as these conversations progress on into the future.)

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