Darkness & Light
„Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.
Dr. Carls G. Jung
In Jungian psychology, the shadow or „shadow aspect” may refer to an unconscious aspect of the personality which the conscious ego does not identify in itself. Because one tends to reject or remain ignorant of the least desirable aspects of one’s personality, the shadow is largely negative, or the entirety of the unconscious, i.e., everything of which a person is not fully conscious. There are, however, positive aspects which may also remain hidden in one’s shadow (especially in people with low self-esteem). Contrary to a Freudian definition of shadow, therefore, the Jungian shadow can include everything outside the light of consciousness, and may be positive or negative. „Everyone carries a shadow,” Jung wrote, „and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.” It may be (in part) one’s link to more primitive animal instincts,which are superseded during early childhood by the conscious mind.
According to Jung, the shadow, in being instinctive and irrational, is prone to psychological projection, in which a perceived personal inferiority is recognised as a perceived moral deficiency in someone else. Jung writes that if these projections remain hidden, „The projection-making factor (the Shadow archetype) then has a free hand and can realize its object–if it has one–or bring about some other situation characteristic of its power.” These projections insulate and harm individuals by acting as a constantly thickening veil of illusion between the ego and the real world.
From one perspective, ‘the shadow…is roughly equivalent to the whole of the Freudian unconscious’; and Jung himself asserted that ‘the result of the Freudian method of elucidation is a minute elaboration of man’s shadow-side unexampled in any previous age’.
Jung also believed that „in spite of its function as a reservoir for human darkness—or perhaps because of this—the shadow is the seat of creativity.”; so that for some, it may be, ‘the dark side of his being, his sinister shadow…represents the true spirit of life as against the arid scholar’.