I 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:
- Contact the Shadow (as object), validate its own needs and make an ally or friend of it.
- Re-own that which had been dissociated away, and experience it as subject (me).
- Accept, use and direct that energy of Self which had formerly been defined as evil.
- 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.)