Through a Jungian Lens

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Individuation – Pruning Away The Shadow

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Bonsai plants on a balcony in Yang Guang Hua Yuan (Sunshine Gardens)

It’s September 1st and I have taken my first “China” photo for this new adventure in ChangZhou.  Back in our old apartment, life is feeling familiar especially since I got a good sleep for the most part last night.  Bonsai, though thought by most to be a Japanese art, is originally a Chinese form called penzai.  Regardless of the historical roots of the art of forming miniature trees, the appearance is very pleasing.

In a way, this is what we do as humans as we work on refashioning ourselves to become better people.  In bringing our shadow contents into the light of consciousness, we are effectively pruning the shadow.  By bringing light to darkness we are not creating something new for there is nothing new, just a shift from the unconscious to consciousness.

For example, complexes exist within the shadow and play havoc with one’s life.  I have a pattern of acting in relationship with other men, men in authority positions that often doesn’t make sense.  As I came to grips with the fact that I had a father complex, I was able to sometimes change the way I interacted so as to avoid unnecessary conflicts.  The complex doesn’t disappear, it remains lurking in the shadow and at times comes up to bite me when I least expect it.  At those times I find myself saying to myself “What the hell was that all about?”  And then, after the fact I realize that it was the complex the catalyst for my unconscious response to a new situation.  And it is in the realisation that I again take the small pruning shears to nip away at the darkness.  And in the process, I become just a bit more appealing as a person in relationship with other men.


2 Responses

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  1. The more conscious we are, the less Shadow is in a complex, and the less chance the complex is bloated and becomes the Ego.
    I tell my patients this is where ‘shrink’ is derived; trying to shrink the bloated complexes to minimal. You can’t get rid of them, but you can make them not in control and running the show.


    September 1, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    • Well stated, Doctor Urspo. I appreciate your adding clarity to my posts with the use of different words. The more voices saying the same thing using different words, the better the chance of someone hearing and understanding. 🙂


      September 2, 2011 at 7:11 am

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