Through a Jungian Lens

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Don’t Mess With My Persona

with 2 comments

A trip to the Tarcoles River which is shown above, was made specifically to go crocodile hunting with the camera.  And, as you can tell, I did manage to achieve my objective.  At the end of the morning I had probably seen about thirty different crocodiles of varying sizes.  This fellow was seen near the end of the journey on the river.  This guy’s protective covering and fearsome teeth suggest that he is one tough customer.  In a way, this is exactly the same idea with our “persona,” the face of “self” that we present to the world.

Without a persona, we are simply too vulnerable.  We regularly cover up our inferiorities with a persona, since we do not like our weaknesses to be seen. (Sharp, Jung Uncorked:  Book One, 2008, p. 75

What lies beneath the persona is a curious thing.  Of course, we know what we are protecting, what we are disguising when we take on a persona.  For example, the persona I wore while being a principal of a school was different from the persona I would wear as a minor hockey coach years ago.  Each mask was crafted for a particular purpose with a different intended audience.  The “self” that consciously directs the traffic of these masks is the ego.  However, there is also an unconscious level of self that  comes to the theatre of persona, the “shadow” is also doing what it needs to do.

Generally speaking, the shadow is less civilized, more primitive, cares little for social propriety.  What is of value to the persona is anathema to the shadow, and vice versa.  Hence the shadow and the persona function in a compensatory way:  the brighter the light, the darker the shadow.  The more one identifies with the persona – which is in effect is to deny that one has a shadow – the more trouble one will have with the unacknowledged areas of the personality. (ibid)

This is good stuff to know.  There is no doubt that living as though one was fully persona, living the natural attitude and our dominant functions works well and we are rewarded well in life doing so.  Yet, at some point, because the shadow, the opposite attitude and the inferior functions will want out of the prison in which we have confined them.  When this happens, we can consider this to be a happy breakdown as it finally convinces us, through pain, to acknowledge all the denied aspects of self, both consciously and unconsciously denied.  This is the gift of a midlife crisis.


2 Responses

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  1. Well how come it doesn’t feel like a gift?! 🙂 Is there a return desk? Of course, Robert, I’m just kidding. I know that it is usual, customary, and necessary.


    January 23, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    • It never does feel like a gift. But in the end, is is the opportunity to transform that is what is to be valued. But until it happens, each of us goes kicking and screaming all the way.

      Robert G. Longpré

      January 24, 2010 at 2:21 pm

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