Through a Jungian Lens

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Stalking the Shadow – Part 2

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Where there is no clarity, only shadows and the suggestion of shadows.

Where there is no clarity, only shadows and the suggestion of shadows.

The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real.” [“The Shadow,” CW 9ii, par. 14.]

These words of C.G. Jung resonate with me as I find myself questioning so much in this last quarter of my life. If I am to answer, at last, some critical questions for myself such as “Who in hell am I really” or “What the hell has been the point [purpose] of my life?” If I am to ever approach anything even remotely resembling answers, I need to look in the mirror, especially the mirror that is found in the eyes of others who see me where I am blind to myself. I also need to listen to the inner voices found in the corners and edges of consciousness, especially those places found in my dreams and where active imagination, usually activated by my photos, leads.

. . . with insight and good will, the shadow can to some extent be assimilated into the conscious personality, experience shows that there are certain features which offer the most obstinate resistance to moral control and prove almost impossible to influence. These resistances are usually bound up with projections, which are not recognized as such, and their recognition is a moral achievement beyond the ordinary. While some traits peculiar to the shadow can be recognized without too much difficulty as one’s personal qualities, in this case both insight and good will are unavailing because the cause of the emotion appears to lie, beyond all possibility of doubt, in the other person.” [Ibid., par. 16.]

Ah projections. I forgot to mention projections, the images, characteristics and attitudes that I note in others with a corresponding activation of heat energy within myself. This heat  may be love-based, hate-based, anger-based, fear-based, or simply based on my resistances to hear and follow – as though I am somehow thrown out of the situation being unable to focus.

I realise that there is much to learn about my unconscious shadow in following these threads. Knowing this is one thing, doing this is something else entirely. It is easier to love the hidden aspects of oneself through loving others. It is easier to blame others and paint them with dark colours rather than to come to own the real darkness within, darkness that is evidenced by our blaming, our fear and our anger. Socially it isn’t any different. We are always searching for perpetrators, for the evil forces behind the scenes. We find conspiracies everywhere, blaming fundamentalists, atheists, New Agers, corporatists, etc. Our society is suffering and someone must be to blame, and that blame can’t rest on our shoulders – or can it?

Confrontation with the shadow produces at first a dead balance, a standstill that hampers moral decisions and makes convictions ineffective or even impossible. Everything becomes doubtful.” [Ibid., par. 708.]

This is often how I find myself responding: “When in doubt, do nothing and wait for something to change, wait for someone else to come up with an answer.” This is a normal response. And of course, the problems only get worse whether the problems are our personal neuroses or whether the problems are collective such as our degradation of our home, the planet Earth. Yes, it comes back to the first words I found and placed above: “The shadow is a moral problem . . . “


Written by Robert G. Longpré

January 12, 2013 at 12:13 pm

2 Responses

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  1. This is a Great Post Robert – Thank you !

    Opa Bear

    January 14, 2013 at 4:18 am

    • Thank you, my best friend in Denmark 🙂 It is about time I finally wrote a great post.


      January 18, 2013 at 4:11 pm

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