Carl Jung and the Shadow: The Hidden Power of Our Dark Side (2022)

Get a FREE membership video! Subscribe to our Newsletter.

“That which we do not bring to consciousness appears in our lives as fate.” (Carl Jung)

Carl Jung is famous for formulating the concept of the shadow, the portion of our personality which, through the course of our life, is relegated to the darkness of the unconscious.

The Nature of the Shadow

(Video) Carl Jung and the Shadow: Integrating the Hidden Power of Your Dark Side

“The shadow goes by many familiar names: the disowned self, the lower self, the dark twin or brother in bible and myth, the double, repressed self, alter ego, id. When we come face-to-face with our darker side, we use metaphors to describe these shadow encounters: meeting our demons, wrestling with the devil, descent to the underworld, dark night of the soul, midlife crisis.” (Connie Zweig, Meeting the Shadow)

While Jung is known for bringing the concept of the shadow to public awareness in the modern day, this aspect of ourselves has long been recognized as a ubiquitous feature of human beings.In 1886, before Jung made his mark, Robert Louis Stevenson created the now famous story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In his story Dr. Jekyll represents the respectable part of one’s personality, but when he transforms into Mr. Hyde, his shadow personality gains dominance over him and wrecks havoc on his life.

Although the shadow is an innate part of the human being, the vast majority of us are willfully blind regarding its existence. We hide our negative qualities, not only from others but from ourselves. To do this we often criticize and condemn others to ensure our focus does not fall on our own faults and destructive tendencies.We gothrough life with a false air of moral superiority and a belief that while others act immorally and destructively, we ourselves are wholly virtuous and always in the right.

“Unfortunately there can be no doubt that man is, on the whole, less good than he imagines himself or wants to be. Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. At all counts, it forms an unconscious snag, thwarting our most well-meant intentions.” (Carl Jung)

Carl Jung and the Shadow: The Hidden Power of Our Dark Side (1)

Making the Shadow Conscious

Some aspects of our shadow are the product of our evolution. We contain, like all animals, instincts for sex and aggression that we tend to repress in order to adapt to the social mores of the day. Some aspects of our shadow are the product of our upbringing. Personality traits and impulses that elicited fear or anxiety in our parents or teachers, for example, caused them to punish or criticize us; and so we reacted by repressing these characteristics. We put up psychological defenses to ensure they were not allowed expression, and thus these characteristics were repressed into the unconscious. As all humans have a shadow, what differentiates us from others is the degree to which we are conscious of it.

When our shadow remains unconscious, it wrecks havoc in our life. Repressed contents do not merely disappear, but rather they function independently of our conscious awareness. In other words, the shadow has the capacity to override our conscious ego and take possession of our being, exerting control over our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. When this happens we can be unconsciously driven into hard times, all the while remaining ignorant that these troubled periods were self-imposed, and not the product of bad luck or fate.

(Video) Carl Jung and the Shadow: The Mechanics of Your Dark Side

“The psychological rule says that when an inner situation is not madeconscious, it happens outside as fate. That is to say, when the individualremains undivided and does not become conscious of his inner opposite, theworld must perforce act out the conflict and be torn into opposing halves.” (Carl Jung)

The unconscious control which our shadow can exert upon us also accountsfor the self destructive behaviors so many individuals struggle with and are unable to control despite consciously knowing they would be better off not engaging in such actions. Many addicts are driven by their shadow, which accounts for the internal “war” which exists within them. One moment they tell themselves they are going to give up their addiction and live a clean life, and the next moment their shadow overrides their conscious ego and they enthusiastically seek out the next drink, “hit”, or sexual release. As Robert Louis Stevenson notes in his book The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, man is not one, but truly two; he has a conscious personality and a shadow, each of which often battle for supremacy within his mind.

“Man has to realize that he possesses a shadow which is the dark side of his own personality; he is being compelled to recognize his “inferior function”, if only for the reason that he is so often overwhelmed by it, with the result that the light world of his conscious mind and his ethical values succumb to an invasion by the dark side. The whole suffering brought upon man by his experience of the inherent evil in his own nature – the whole immeasurable problem of “original sin”, in fact – threatens to annihilate the individual in a welter of anxiety and feelings of guilt.” (Depth Psychology and a New Ethic, Erich Neumann)

In order to avoid being the victim of “shadow-possession”, we must become conscious of our shadow qualities and integrate them intoour conscious personality; accepting them with open arms not asabhorrent aspects of our self, but as necessary and vital parts of our being. Toward this end it is useful to realize that the task in life is not to become perfect, but to become whole.And as wholeness entails both good and evil, light and darkness, the achievement of wholeness in personality development requires we assimilate our shadow into our conscious personality.

“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. The latter procedure, however, is disagreeable and therefore not popular.” (Carl Jung)

However, as Jung alludes to in the above quote, this is extremely difficult. Most cannot and will not admit that deep down they are not wholly virtuous, selfless, and good human beings, but instead contain selfish, destructive, amoral and immoral impulses and capacities. Most would rather deceive themselves with a blind optimism about the “goodness” of their nature, which is why most remain fragmented individuals who are ignorant of their inner depths.

“The meeting with oneself is, at first, the meeting with one’s own shadow. The shadow is a tight passage, a narrow door, whose painful constriction no one is spared who goes down to the deep well. But one must learn to know oneself in order to know who one is.” (Carl Jung)

Carl Jung and the Shadow: The Hidden Power of Our Dark Side (2)

(Video) Carl Jung - The Power of Knowing Your Dark Side (Written by Eternalised)

The Hidden Power of the Shadow

What is especially interesting is the idea that the shadow contains not just destructive aspects of the personality, but also potent, creative, and powerful capabilities. During our development certain traits and impulses were condemned by our family, peers, and educators, not out of care but out of envy, fear, ignorance or jealousy. Our proclivity to abide by social expectations also caused us to repress talents, innate abilities, and impulses which if cultivated and developed had the potential to make us more effective beings in the world.

For example, it is becoming more prevalent today for psychologists to diagnose individuals who question authority and show signs of extreme self reliance as being pathological, suffering from a condition they call “anti-authoritarian” (see an article by Bruce Levine here). Individuals who are too self-reliant in our increasingly collective and dependent society are viewed by many as a threat. They are lone wolves amidst a flock of sheep, and they are attacked and ridiculed by the herd because of it.

This is just one example of many regarding how our socialization into modern society handicaps our development. The bottom line is that with our higher energies trapped, labeled by others and our conscious ego as negative and bad, our growth can become blocked, and life, a wasteland.

For the sake of our personal development, we must, therefore, become more aware of our shadow and open our mind to the possibility that maybe we are not so friendly, righteous, and moral as we think. We must consider that perhaps there are unconscious aspects of ourselves driving our behavior “behind the scenes”. We must look down into our depths and realize that our conscious ego is not always in control, but is often overtaken by the power of our shadow.

Once we become more aware of these dark aspects of ourselves, we must honor them and find a way to integrate them into our life. In failing to do so, one will become weak and scattered. One cannot serve two inner drives without dissipating his strength and energies. The shadow must become a part of one’s conscious personality.

Is there a “Technique” to Integrate the Shadow?

“There is no generally effective technique for assimilating the shadow. It is more like diplomacy or statesmanship and it is always an individual matter. First one has to accept and take seriously the existence of the shadow. Second, one has to become aware of its qualities and intentions. This happens through conscientious attention to moods, fantasies and impulses. Third, a long process of negotiation is unavoidable.” (Carl Jung)

(Video) The HIDDEN Power of Your Dark Side | Carl Jung's Theory of Archetypes

As Jung notes in the passage above, there is no general technique to integrate the shadow. Our shadow is unique, and thus, to integrate it requires we adopt our own unique approach. No matter the approach we adopt, to properly integrate our shadow it is necessary to behave in ways which run counter to the mores of society and our own conscious moral compass. Most of our shadow qualities, after all, were repressed into our unconscious because we believed they were unacceptable, either socially or according to our family or peers. A common technique in shadow integration is to find a healthy, productive, or at the very least, controlled outlet for either repressed aggression or sexual urges. Another is to ignore customs one thought to be superficial or pointless, but previously conformed to in order to fit in. Another is to pursue a passion despite all those around you pressuring you otherwise. These tactics can help us separate ourselves from the expectations and “conforming-eye” of others, and allow us to look within, without judgment or condemnation, to discover who and what we really are.

If we can find a way to negotiate with our shadow, and allow it to “live” in our conscious personality rather than repressing it, we will not only attain a more secure sense of selfhood, but also more knowledge about what it is we really want in life. We will be more capable of ignoring what others think we should be doing, more able to deviate from the masses, and thus more prepared to commence on a path to fulfill our own personal destiny.The shadow, as Jung mentioned, is the doorway to our Self. The many dare not descend into their depths, but this is exactly what we must do if we are to become who we really are.

“The shadow, when it is realized, is the source of renewal; the new and productive impulse cannot come from established values of the ego. When there is an impasse, and sterile time in our lives—despite an adequate ego development—we must look to the dark, hitherto unacceptable side which has been at our conscious disposal….This brings us to the fundamental fact that the shadow is the door to our individuality. In so faras the shadow renders us our first view of the unconscious part of our personality, it represents the first stage toward meeting the Self. There is, in fact, no access to the unconscious and to our own reality but through the shadow. Only when we realize that part of ourselves which we have not hitherto seen or preferred not to see can we proceed to question and find the sources from which it feeds and the basis on which it rests. Hence no progress or growth is possible until the shadow is adequately confronted and confronting means more than merely knowing about it. It is not until we have truly been shocked into seeing ourselves as we really are, instead of as we wish or hopefully assume we are, that we can take the first step toward individual reality.”(Connie Zweig, Meeting the Shadow)

Academy of Ideas Membership

Become a member and gain access to exclusive member videos.

Become a Member

Further Readings

FAQs

What did Carl Jung say about the shadow? ›

Jung stated the shadow to be the unknown dark side of the personality. According to Jung, the shadow, in being instinctive and irrational, is prone to psychological projection, in which a perceived personal inferiority is recognized as a perceived moral deficiency in someone else.

What is Carl Jung's theory? ›

Q: What is Carl Jung's theory? Carl Jung's theory is the collective unconscious. He believed that human beings are connected to each other and their ancestors through a shared set of experiences. We use this collective consciousness to give meaning to the world.

Why is it important for us to know and understand our own shadow before we understand the darkness of others? ›

Again, the shadow gives us gifts like boundary setting, personal power, and emotional fluency. Knowing your shadow side will also improve your relationships. When we can accept and understand ourselves, we are then more able to accept and understand others.

Did Jung invent shadow work? ›

Where did this idea originate? Shadow work comes from the term “the shadow self,” which was coined by famed 20th-century psychologist Carl Jung. In Jungian psychology, this term describes the unconscious parts of the personality that our conscious ego doesn't want to identify in itself.

What are the 12 shadow archetypes? ›

The 12 archetypes are the Sage, Innocent, Explorer, Ruler, Creator, Caregiver, Magician, Hero, Rebel, Lover, Jester and the Orphan.

How do you tap into the dark side? ›

How to start shadow work
  1. Decide if you'll seek therapy or do shadow work on your own. ...
  2. Practice spotting your inner shadow. ...
  3. Think back to your childhood. ...
  4. Avoid shaming (or being ashamed of) your shadow. ...
  5. Meditate to observe your triggers. ...
  6. Keep a shadow journal. ...
  7. Express your inner shadow artistically. ...
  8. Start an inner dialogue.
Jun 13, 2022

What are Jung's 4 major archetypes? ›

Jung claimed to identify a large number of archetypes but paid special attention to four. Jung labeled these archetypes the Self, the Persona, the Shadow and the Anima/Animus.

What are the 4 personality types of Jung? ›

Jung's theory focuses on four basic psychological functions:
  • Extraversion vs. introversion.
  • Sensation vs. intuition.
  • Thinking vs. feeling.
  • Judging vs. perceiving.
May 9, 2020

What are Jung's four functions of the mind? ›

In his book, he noted four main psychological functions: thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition. He introduced them with having either an internally focused (introverted) or externally focused (extraverted) tendency which he called "attitudes".

How do you know where your inner is dark? ›

Writing a story where you project your Shadow elements onto the characters is a great way to learn more about your inner darkness. If stories aren't your thing, try journaling or keeping a diary every day for a few weeks where you record both good and bad emotions, thoughts, and habits.

What happens when you accept your shadow self? ›

Embracing the shadow self can lead to a greater understanding of our whole self, as it helps us to understand, control and integrate it. Because when we shine a light on our shadow, we become conscious of the unconscious and gift ourselves with the power of conscious choice.

How do you uncover a shadow yourself? ›

How to embrace your shadow self:
  1. Become a curious observer.
  2. Practice nonjudgment toward yourself.
  3. Work with a professional.
  4. Meditate.
  5. Try shadow journaling.
  6. Try past-life regression therapy.
  7. Label your emotional experiences.
  8. Think about someone who triggers you.
Nov 11, 2021

Is the shadow self the ego? ›

According to Eastern and Western psychology, we have an ego/persona, a shadow, and a self. The simplest way to understand them is: Ego is your identity, while the persona is the mask you wear to survive and thrive – your social personality. Shadow is the aspect you hide so that you can integrate and find acceptance.

What is shadow energy? ›

Shadow is a zapping energy that lurks in the area of emotional suffering caused to oneself or to another. The concept can be broadly applied to families, groups, religions, governments, countries, etc. if we consider them bodies of energy.

What are shadow emotions? ›

From a psychologist's perspective, labeling emotions negative is problematic and creates a response to avoid or suppress these experiences, becoming defensive, shutting down, denying, or ignoring. This is why I label emotions described as negative as shadow emotions.

What is an example of a shadow archetype? ›

When a character embodies the shadow archetype in fiction, the Shadow archetype often takes on a villain. For example, Sauron is the Dark Lord of Mordor, and he represents the Shadow of the good of middle earth. Another example in The Lord of the Rings trilogy is Gollum.

What are Carl Jung's 4 theories of consciousness? ›

4 Carl Jung Theories Explained: Persona, Shadow, Anima/Animus, The Self | by Harry J.

What are the 8 types of personalities? ›

They are very skilled at communication.
  • Sentimental introvert. The sentimental introvert personality type corresponds with solitary people who have great difficulty establishing social relationships with other people. ...
  • Perceptive extrovert. ...
  • Perceptive introvert. ...
  • Intuitive extrovert. ...
  • Intuitive introvert.
Jul 28, 2022

What is the dark side of life? ›

The 'dark side' is the part of the self that lies hidden in the shadows of our personality. We are often surprised to learn that it exists and it is usually a part of ourselves that we would rather deny – a sort of motived forgetting.

What does it mean to embrace your dark side? ›

Embrace the Dark Side

Our dark sides are the emotions and qualities about ourselves that we wish would go away. It's less about what makes us seem evil, and more about what we're embarrassed of—what feels wrong to us.

What is the most powerful archetype? ›

The magician is the most powerful archetype according to the theories of Carl Jung. They're the kind of people who promote the advancement of the world thanks to their knowledge and ability to advise and guide others.

What did Carl Jung believe about religion? ›

Jung believed religion was a profound, psychological response to the unknown — both the inner self and the outer worlds — and he understood Christianity to be a profound meditation on the meaning of the life of Jesus of Nazareth within the context of Hebrew spirituality and the Biblical worldview.

Why did Jung and Freud disagree? ›

Freud, in particular, was unhappy with Jung's disagreement with some of the key concepts and ideas of Freudian theory. For example, Jung disagreed with Freud's focus on sexuality as a key motivating behavioural force, as well as believing Freud's concept of the unconscious as too limited and overly negative.

What are the two major attitudes according to Jung? ›

The correct answer is (d) introversion and extraversion. Carl Jung was the first to distinguish the two major orientations or attitudes of personality which are introversion and extraversion.

What Myers Briggs Type was Carl Jung? ›

Carl Jung was an INFJ personality type. When making decisions, Carl placed great emphasis on his emotions and other people's feelings. Carl was a high achiever and excelled in the field of psychology. As an INFJ, he could be a perfectionist and he liked to see projects through to completion.

What are the 7 personality types? ›

The Nine Enneagram Type Descriptions
  • 1 THE REFORMER. The Rational, Idealistic Type: Principled, Purposeful, Self-Controlled, and Perfectionistic.
  • 2 THE HELPER. ...
  • 3 THE ACHIEVER. ...
  • 4 THE INDIVIDUALIST. ...
  • 5 THE INVESTIGATOR. ...
  • 6 THE LOYALIST. ...
  • 7 THE ENTHUSIAST. ...
  • 8 THE CHALLENGER.

What are the four stages of therapy in Jungian approach? ›

In addition, the process of psychotherapy involves four stages: confession, elucidation, education, and transformation (see Douglas, 1995).

What does introverted thinking look like? ›

Introverted Thinkers are easy to spot. They're the ones constantly puzzling over new theories and new problems. They can be unconventional, inventive and preoccupied with their own thoughts. They approach the world in a novel and unique way, using their own intellect to make sense of everything around them.

What are the levels of consciousness? ›

We can view consciousness as three distinct levels: the conscious, the subconscious (or preconscious), and the unconscious.

What does Jung mean by the shadow? ›

The shadow is an archetype that consists of the sex and life instincts. The shadow exists as part of the unconscious mind and is composed of repressed ideas, weaknesses, desires, instincts, and shortcomings. The shadow forms out of our attempts to adapt to cultural norms and expectations.

Is the shadow self the ego? ›

According to Eastern and Western psychology, we have an ego/persona, a shadow, and a self. The simplest way to understand them is: Ego is your identity, while the persona is the mask you wear to survive and thrive – your social personality. Shadow is the aspect you hide so that you can integrate and find acceptance.

What is shadow behavior? ›

Shadow Behaviour – put simply – is a negative, and often automatic, unintentional and unconscious, response to events, people and situations. Different people exhibit different Shadow Behaviours. You may act defensively, resist change, manipulate others or act aggressively.

How do I find my shadow self? ›

How to Find Your Shadow Self
  1. Pay attention to your dreams and nightmares.
  2. Use shadow work prompts in a journal to understand your core beliefs, thoughts, and feelings.
  3. Talk to a therapist or counselor about the things that bother you.
  4. Look for patterns of behavior that you don't like in yourself.
May 4, 2022

What are Jung's 4 major archetypes? ›

Jung claimed to identify a large number of archetypes but paid special attention to four. Jung labeled these archetypes the Self, the Persona, the Shadow and the Anima/Animus.

How do you know where your inner is dark? ›

Writing a story where you project your Shadow elements onto the characters is a great way to learn more about your inner darkness. If stories aren't your thing, try journaling or keeping a diary every day for a few weeks where you record both good and bad emotions, thoughts, and habits.

What are the two major attitudes according to Jung? ›

The correct answer is (d) introversion and extraversion. Carl Jung was the first to distinguish the two major orientations or attitudes of personality which are introversion and extraversion.

How do I heal my shadow self? ›

How to embrace your shadow self:
  1. Become a curious observer.
  2. Practice nonjudgment toward yourself.
  3. Work with a professional.
  4. Meditate.
  5. Try shadow journaling.
  6. Try past-life regression therapy.
  7. Label your emotional experiences.
  8. Think about someone who triggers you.
Nov 11, 2021

What are the four stages of individuation? ›

The four stages or phases chosen for the individuation process are: the persona, the shadow, the anima, and the self. and the phase and Homer's The Odyssey and the character of Odysseus.

What is the opposite of the shadow self? ›

The "shadow self", as he called it, is one aspect of our unconscious - the instinctive part of our psyche that we try to repress. It represents the direct opposite of our "persona" - the public face we like to present to the world.

What happens when you integrate your shadow? ›

Shadow integration is a process of bringing the hidden parts of the Self into consciousness. “Shadow” is a term coined by Carl Jung to describe the repressed or denied parts of the Self. It is a light metaphor for what many others have referred to as the unconscious.

What does it mean to lose your shadow? ›

1 to part with or come to be without, as through theft, accident, negligence, etc. 2 to fail to keep or maintain.

What is shadow healing? ›

Report Ad. Suspend judgement on yourself : Shadow work is a practice of healing and self-growth, which means that it requires surrender and acceptance. Instead of attacking everything that you don't want to think, feel, or address, go into this process with an attitude of compassion for yourself and your experiences.

What is spiritual shadow work? ›

Shadow work is simply becoming aware of what's hidden and gradually healing those aspects of yourself. When you start shadow work, you may feel the way you felt as a child when you were forced to suppress those emotions. But once you overcome it, it may open your eyes to a whole new side of you you had no idea existed.

What is inner darkness? ›

Inner Dark is space within that holds your potential, untapped powers, mysteries for you to unveil, but only if you are willing to do The Work. That Work involves overcoming your mara, or figurative inner demons. I translate yin to “dark” as in the absence of the figurative illumination of light, the period of night.

Videos

1. Shadow Work: Carl Jung and The Mechanics of Your Dark Side
(The Quintessential Mind)
2. Owning Your Own Shadow: The Dark Side of the Psyche
(Eternalised)
3. When Your Dark Side Takes Control | Carl Jung and the Shadow
(Benjamin | Personal Power)
4. The Shadow - Carl Jung's Warning to The World
(Eternalised)
5. Jordan Peterson & Joe Rogan - Understanding Your Shadow (Carl Jung)
(Kittyzouza)
6. Shadow Self: Knowing Your Dark Side Is Vital | Carl Jung
(Wisdom of Life)

You might also like

Latest Posts

Article information

Author: Tish Haag

Last Updated: 09/15/2022

Views: 5768

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (47 voted)

Reviews: 86% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Tish Haag

Birthday: 1999-11-18

Address: 30256 Tara Expressway, Kutchburgh, VT 92892-0078

Phone: +4215847628708

Job: Internal Consulting Engineer

Hobby: Roller skating, Roller skating, Kayaking, Flying, Graffiti, Ghost hunting, scrapbook

Introduction: My name is Tish Haag, I am a excited, delightful, curious, beautiful, agreeable, enchanting, fancy person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.