Our Shadow Selves Revisited

john bearhs bookI inserted most of the material about Jung’s “Shadow” part of our personality on my “Our Shadow Selves” page.  I’ve just come across something that is too pertinent to bury at the bottom of a page as opposed to this “Post.”

In his 1982 book Unity and Multiplicity: Multilevel Consciousness of Self in Hypnosis, Psychiatric Disorder and Mental Health,” (Bruner-Mazel),  John O. Beahrs  appears to refer to “The Shadow” as “the Demon,” yet his observations are right on about dealing with the Shadow, and better put than anything on my page.  (I substitute “the Shadow” here for “demon.”)

I suggest a fourfold maxim to summarize treatment of problems of  the Shadow:

  1. Contact the Shadow (as object), validate its own needs and make an ally or friend of it.
  2. Re-own that which had been dissociated away, and experience it as subject (me).
  3. Accept, use and direct that energy of Self which had formerly been defined as evil.
  4. Be in full control of this.

A powerful statement by Edward Whitmont observes that when the ego catches sight of the shadow the ego most often reacts with an attempt to  eliminate it.  “Somehow, almost everyone has the feeling that a quality once acknowledged will of necessity have to be acted out, for the one state which we find more painful than facing the shadow is that of resisting our own feeling urge, of bearing the pressure of a drive,  suffering the frustration or pain of  not satisfying an urge. Hence in order to avoid  having to resist our own feeling urges when we recognize them, we prefer not to see them at all, to convince ourselves that they are not there.  Repression appears less painful than discipline….discipline rests on the ability to act in a manner that is contrary to our feelings when necessary” (Zweig and Abrams, 1991, 17. 18, Meeting the Shadow: The hidden Power of the Dark Side of Human Nature.)




About Nan Mykel

I used to think I would be a child prodigy, but then I got old. Formerly I had fantasies of rubbing elbows with cultural and academic leaders but that did not come to pass because I did not become a cultural or academic leader or any other kind of leader, for that matter. I am not even an "Alpha Dog," a term learned from a friend who had to become "Alpha Dog" in order to influence her own pet. (When gazes lock, she never looks away.) For years I expected to become a published author, but in passing I could not avoid the fact that I had little to contribute to the world's bulging dumpsters. I'm embarrassed to report that I also considered my primary process artistic productions powerful, rather than mildly neurotic. Which is not to say that I disrespect myself, only that I am beginning to doubt my potential for making a mark on the world. If I focus on strict self discipline I may be able to keep my garbage removed on a weekly basis, to keep the kitty box changed, the clothes cleaned, the dog watered, fed and walked, but that just catches me up to the starting mark again. When writing I physically grapple with words, wrestling them from their indifference into attempted chunks of awareness. I sit heavily on my chair; I breathe in artificially cooled air; my ear drums note the tap tap of the keyboard and the steady uninterrupted sound of the air conditioner, What is that sound? The roar of the ocean from 30 yards away...Inside, my thoughts are are balls in an electronic game machine, bouncing hither and yon from lever to lever. I am a little grim and intent until I recall a dream related by a black man in the prison where I once worked. He said that when he was a small boy, back home, he dreamed he was standing on his front porch pissing, and that he suddenly found himself pissing stars...
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1 Response to Our Shadow Selves Revisited

  1. Sautee Barb says:

    I am going to save the link to this to share with my niece.


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