Shadow: the Jungian concept - Psychology

By Dr. Maurizio Capezzuto - www.psicologodiroma.com -

In order to have a good psycho-emotional balance, it is important that the person can express his / her potential, that he / she completes his / her design, his / her life plan. Personally I am very attached to a sentence and I hope that it can really be an incitement to "being": "The first duty a person has is towards himself". Believing that there is a tendency to direct man in this direction, I wonder what it is that drives him to alienate himself. What is that individuation process Jung talks about?

Many people take a lifetime to find their own way and many others avoid it, why? The fear of taking responsibility for one's own life is often hidden behind this avoidance. In the instant in which I act, I work so that I can be, so that I may become the creator of my destiny, become the creator of myself. But it is known that every treasure is not easily accessible and that to reach it I will have to cross impassable roads, I will have to have the courage to undertake new and unknown paths. Venturing on undefeated roads is not easy as I will no longer have reference points, all that was my cultural knowledge, now no longer makes sense, and what used to be my points of reference now no longer have value and I I can only trust in my strength. Only the one who will succeed in the heroic enterprise, in the end will find the treasure. As Marcel Proust said: "Two roads met in the woods and I chose the least traveled one, which is why I am different". This explains why in the narrations the figure of the hero is always accompanied by a sense of solitude. This also helps explain why we are more prone to regret than remorse. The regret allows us to delude ourselves that in reality we could not choose and that if we had not found ourselves in this or that situation we would have chosen differently, when then there is no real foothold, then we turn to misfortune. In other words we could say that regret makes it easier to use the mechanism called projection. This defense mechanism allows us to see the evil outside of us, giving us the illusion of a possible de-responsibility. Moreover, in psychotherapeutic relationships, it is known that the onset of guilt is often one of the elements that blocks the process of individuation. It seems precisely that the sense of guilt arises as a brake on action, as a real obstacle to action. Often we are called to make crucial decisions for our lives and we realize that if we embarked on the road that for us is unknown, dark, but that despite this has a very strong appeal to our soul, we should inevitably distance ourselves from everything up at that moment it was our beliefs. This implies not only a restructuring of our cognitive apparatus, but also makes us fear that we can lose the love of loved ones. As Sabina Spielrein said: "Death as the beginning of becoming" and it is really only after a real psychic death that we could truly be reborn. The process of individuation is like a complex conquest of dynamic structures to which the risk of destructuring is always implicit. The dignity of man consists among other things in the assumption of this risk. An essential aspect in the identification process is also the Jungian concept of Shadow .

The Shadow can be defined in this case as the set of functions and attitudes of the undeveloped personality. I say in this case because when we talk about Shadow we can refer to three meanings:

1) Shadow as part of the personality.

2) Shadow as archetype *.

3) Shadow as an archetypal image.

n psychoanalysis the archetype can be defined as a universal form of thought with affective content .

However, since this is a vast and complex topic, it requires to be treated in a special article, here I will only try to mention it. The Jungian doctrine of the symbol hinges on the dialectical activity that synthesizes opposites. For Jung, the configuration of the psyche is offered to our observation as the coexistence of polar opposite aspects, I and not I, conscious and unconscious, positive and negative, etc. .. etc. .. The Shadow therefore as a lower part of the personality is a part of the totality of the psyche. It must be taken into account that the Shadow is negative as there is a positivity with which it is compared. Deep unjustified dislikes, for example, are almost always the result of the projection of one's own Shadow. The recognition of this projection constitutes the royal route for the recognition of one's own Shadow. Often in therapy we note how the subject rejecting his own Shadow condemns himself to live a partial life. As Jung observes, the Ombra abandoned to the negative is forced, so to speak, to have an autonomous life without any relation with the rest of the personality. In this way every authentic maturation of the individual is prevented, since the identification begins precisely with the recognition and integration of the Shadow. A page of Jung contained in an essay is illuminating in this regard.

A man possessed by his own Shadow stumbles constantly into his mistakes. Whenever possible, he will prefer to make an unfavorable impression on others. In the long run good luck is always against him, because he lives below his own level and, at best, he reaches only what is not his responsibility and does not concern him. If there is no obstacle in which to stumble, he will build one on purpose and then firmly believe that he has done something useful.

In psychic energetics Jung provides an image of the psyche as a multiple energetic current that can exist in the meantime because there are the poles or differences in potential within which the energy itself is established. Only in this way does the energy that was previously lost in the unrecognized or rejected shadow become available to the ego. The Shadow is that of us that cannot be solved in collective value, it is opposed to any universal value. It goes without saying that true individuality, the unrepeatable singularity, whose modern prophets are Kierkegaard and Dostoevsky, resides in the Shadow. In the instant in which man accepts the Ombra in his own psychic dynamic, he agrees to individualize himself. From the point of view of a collective morality, the integration of the Shadow enables the foundation of an individual ethic in which universal values ​​are pursued as they are continuously related to the individual, or rather to the individual element of the personality.

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