chaugnar

Jung shadow work?

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Does anyone do jungian shadow work.ive been working on this recently and sometimes what I learn is suprising,shocking.its also interesting how it affects relationships.

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I'm familiar with Jung's concept of the shadow, but how do you work on it specifically? 

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I consider myself as a student of Jung’s, though not in any formal sense. Reading his work has given me profound insights into my own experiences and made me feel not alone; perhaps more so than any other single teacher I’ve had.  (I’d say though, as a whole, Daoism, qigong, meditation and aspects of tradition Chinese thought have probably helped me more.) I still find new depth in Jung even after nearly 30 years of reading his multi-volumed Collected Works. The deeper I go into my own experience, the greater is my understanding of his complex writings. 

 

The shadow is certainly one of Jung’s key archetypes. To state the obvious, if you want to formally do shadow work, work with an experienced Jungian analyst. I’ve never done this.  For me, I’ve slowly gained insight into my own shadow through many years of real-life experience.  I note my reactions. A strong adverse emotion response is a key indicator of hidden feelings.  Ranting and feeling like I want to attack and destroy someone who has made some observation about me are a couple of red light indicators. And even noting these reactions, it can take years to gain insight into what I am suppressing.  Key fact, we suppress our shadows because we truly are not able to handle these dark aspects of ourselves. My advice is don’t delve, just deal with what life presents you with.

 

 

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For any real benefit, Jung has to be read as a totality. A small snippet of his ideas can be more misleading than helpful, particularly as he refines and develops his concepts over time as his own experience deepens. And from my observation, only a small minority of people feel strong resonance with his insights. Hence, with some reservation, here’s the entry on ‘Shadow’ from the glossary of Jung's semi-autobiographical Memories, Dreams, Reflections, for the information of those reading this who are not familiar with his terms......

 

Shadow. 

The inferior part of the personality; sum of all personal and collective psychic elements which, because of their incompatibility with the chosen conscious attitude, are denied expression in life and therefore coalesce into a relatively autonomous "splinter personality" with contrary tendencies in the unconscious. The shadow behaves compensatorily to consciousness; hence its effects can be positive as well as negative. In dreams, the shadow figure is always of the same sex as the dreamer. 

 

C G Jung: "The shadow personifies everything that the subject refuses to acknowledge about himself and yet is always thrusting itself upon him directly or indirectly for instance, inferior traits of character and other incompatible tendencies." (The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, CW 9, i, p 284.) 

 

"... the shadow [is] that hidden, repressed, for the most part inferior and guilt-laden personality whose ultimate ramifications reach back into the realm of our animal ancestors and so comprise the whole historical aspect of the unconscious. ... If it has been believed hitherto that the human shadow was the source of all evil, it can now be ascertained on closer investigation that the unconscious man, that is, his shadow, does not consist only of morally reprehensible tendencies, but also displays a number of good qualities, such as normal instincts, appropriate reactions, realistic insights, creative impulses, etc." ( Aion, CW 9, part 2, p. 266 )
 

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And another couple of snippets on the shadow archetype from his writings....

 

“Filling the conscious mind with ideal conceptions is a characteristic of Western theosophy, but not the confrontation with the shadow and the world of darkness. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. The later procedure, however, is disagreeable and therefore not popular.”   

 

"This meeting with oneself is, at first, the meeting with one’s own shadow. The shadow is a tight passage, a narrow door, whose painful constriction no one is spared who goes down to the deep well. But one must learn to know oneself in order to know who one is. For what comes after the door is, surprisingly enough, a boundless expanse full of unprecedented uncertainty, with apparently no inside and no outside, no above and no below, no here and no there, no mine and no thine, no good and no bad......It is the world of water where I am indivisibly this and that; where I experience the other in myself and the other-than-myself experiences me."

(The  Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious)

 

"Recognition of the Shadow, on the other hand, leads to the modesty we need in order to acknowledge imperfection. And it is just this conscious recognition and consideration that are needed whenever a human relationship is to be established. A human relationship is not based on differentiation and perfection, for these only emphasize the differences or call forth the exact opposite; it is based, rather on imperfection, on what is weak, helpless and in need of support — the very ground and motive for dependence. The perfect have no need of others, but weakness has, for it seeks support and does not confront its partner with anything that might force him or her into an inferior position and even humiliate him. This humiliation may happen only too easily when high idealism plays too prominent a role." (CW l0: Civilization in Transition: par 579, p 301)

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1 hour ago, chaugnar said:

Shadow can also be positive but repressed

 

I'm interested to learn what your insights are on this.  It's your topic and I've already added plenty.  Unfortunately, past experience tells me that Jung topics on Dao Bums gain little discussion. 

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I'll try.my work on this has been a mixture of methods.journaling,dream work,poetry,music,etc.it is a slow thing.i had a great shadow insight because of synchronycity..

 

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What I really am interested in is shadow projection in romantic relationship.we could say it's all the same.ie seperation-unity

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I was shown a big part of my shadow when I was 12 and dreamt of a crazy old man sitting in a chair staring out of a window, stroking a cat. I woke up from the dream and heard the words "he is me".  This was a part of my shadow getting my attention very early in my life, and I have tried to bring it to light in its entirety from that day on. 'Tis a long bag we drag behind us indeed...

 

Spoiler

 

The Long Bag We Drag Behind Us

When we were one or two years old we had what we might visualize as a 360-degree personality. Energy radiated out from all parts of our body and all parts of our psyche. A child running is a living globe of energy. We had a ball of energy, all right; but one day we noticed that our parents didn’t like certain parts of that ball. They said things like “Can’t you be still?” Or “It isn’t nice to try and kill your brother.” Behind us we have an invisible bag, and the part of us our parents don’t like, we, to keep our parents’ love, put in the bag. By the time we go to school our bag is quite large. Then our teachers have their say: “Good children don’t get angry over such little things.” So we take our anger and put it in the bag. By the time my brother and I were twelve in Madison, Minnesota, we were known as “the nice Bly boys.” Our bags were already a mile long.

 

Then we do a lot of bag-stuffing in high school. This time it’s no longer the evil grown-ups that pressure us, but people our own age. So the student’s paranoia about grown-ups can be misplaced. I lied all through high school automatically to try to be more like the basketball players. Any part of myself that was a little slow went into the bag. My sons are going through the process now; I watched my daughters, who are older, experience it. I noticed with dismay how much they put into the bag, but there was nothing their mother or I could do about it. Often my daughters seemed to make their decisions on the basis of fashion and collective ideas of beauty, and they suffered as much damage from other girls as they did from men.

 

So I maintain that out of a round globe of energy the twenty-year-old ends up with a slice. We’ll imagine a man who has a thin slice left — the rest is in the bag — and we’ll imagine that he meets a woman; let’s say they are both twenty-four. She has a thin, elegant slice left. They join each other in a ceremony, and this union of two slices is called marriage. Even together the two do not make up one person! . . .

 

In Christian culture sexuality usually goes into the bag. With it goes much spontaneity. [Psychologist] Marie-Louise von Franz warns us, on the other hand, not to sentimentalize primitive cultures by assuming that they have no bag at all. She says, in effect, that they have a different but sometimes even larger bag. They may put individuality into the bag, or inventiveness. What anthropologists know as “participation mystique,” or a “mysterious communal mind,” sounds lovely, but it can mean that tribal members all know exactly the same thing and no one knows anything else. It’s possible that bags for all human beings are about the same size.

 

We spend our life until we’re twenty deciding what parts of ourself to put into the bag, and we spend the rest of our lives trying to get them out again. Sometimes retrieving them feels impossible, as if the bag were sealed. Suppose the bag remains sealed — what happens then? A great nineteenth-century story has an idea about that. One night Robert Louis Stevenson woke up and told his wife a bit of a dream he’d just had. She urged him to write it down; he did, and it became Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The nice side of the personality becomes, in our idealistic culture, nicer and nicer. The Western man may be a liberal doctor, for example, always thinking about the good of others. Morally and ethically he is wonderful. But the substance in the bag takes on a personality of its own; it can’t be ignored. The story says that the substance locked in the bag appears one day somewhere else in the city. The substance in the bag feels angry, and when you see it, it is shaped like an ape, and moves like an ape.

 

The story says then that when we put a part of ourselves in the bag it regresses. It de-evolves toward barbarism. Suppose a young man seals a bag at twenty and then waits fifteen or twenty years before he opens it again. What will he find? Sadly, the sexuality, the wildness, the impulsiveness, the anger, the freedom he put in have all regressed; they are not only primitive in mood, they are hostile to the person who opens the bag. The man who opens his bag at forty-five or the woman who opens her bag rightly feels fear. She glances up and sees the shadow of an ape passing along the alley wall; anyone seeing that would be frightened.

 

 

 

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@Bindi

 

Yes, it’s important for me to remember this perspective on the shadow which could also be called repressive conditioning. 

 

Claire Dunne gives a balanced overview of shadow in her biography of Jung, Carl Jung: wounded Healer of the Soul: “For each of us the shadow is a call to explore our lives in greater depth. Bringing it into light and dealing with its contents, whatever they may be, helps us to grow into a larger sense of our humanity.” 

 

She explains further:  The first layer we encounter in the unconscious is what Jung called the shadow, usually those parts of ourselves we don't like, don't know, or don't want to know. The shadow can be repressed in us like a cancer or projected outward onto others as qualities we dislike most in a person or group. The negative shadow can present us with a shortcoming to be overcome. The positive can show us a meaningful part of ourselves we should recognize and live out. Either way it’s a tricky element to deal with, as Jung himself knew. He wrote: “My shadow is indeed so huge I could not possibly overlook it in the plan of my life; in fact I had to see it as an essential part of my personality, accept the consequences of this realization, and take responsibility for them.”

 

It seems Jung was successful in integrating his shadow as many accounts from people who had personal dealings with him concur with Psychotherapist Elizabeth Howes impression: “This man did in fact accept the shadow and ... this acceptance brought problems and tensions but also aliveness, reality, integrity, and depth of being.”
 

 

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@YueyaYes I do tend to identify everything outside the light of consciousness as my shadow, not just what is socially repressed. It includes things I can't bear to feel, and possibly material from past lives, though I struggle to believe in reincarnation fully. 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

One thing to keep in mind with theory is that it’s only a model of reality. Concepts are enticing because they make clear distinctions; distinctions that are only clear in theory, not reality. They help us gain insight into real experience, but can harm us if we make the theory primary and privilege its worldview rather than our own experience.  I find Jung’s concepts particularly helpful for gaining insight into my own experience, but I’m not a Jungian. (Nor am I a Daoist, though likewise, I find aspects of Daoism very helpful.) What I’m getting at is that real experience, though primary, can only be described and communicated through concepts, but these can only ever be approximate. This topic is about what Jung calls the shadow. I find it a helpful concept but it becomes a hindrance if I look to find Jung’s concept of a shadow within me, rather than seek to use it to illuminate otherwise ineffable inner experience. This same inner experience could well be descried within a totally different theoretical framework. In fact, if the experience is at all universal, there must be numerous other ways it has been described.  All these different accounts can be helpful, but I find some speak to me far more strongly than others. With that in mind here are some further thoughts on the shadow’s place within Jung’s theory...... 

 

One of Jung’s fundamental insights is that our human consciousness is polarised. For him, consciousness consists of flows of psychic energy and this energy, like all energy, only flows where there are polar differentials. (Daoists speak in terms of qi flow and yin-yang.) Within our psyche, the first level of polarity is between our conscious awareness and our hidden shadow. (Using contemporary terminology this could also be called a polarity between self and other.)  Jung’s aim was not to eliminate or try to join these polar opposites, rather he learned that the best approach was to try and reconcile them. (Reconciling the opposites in a general sense was also the aim of both Western and Chinese alchemists, hence Jung’s affinity with their writings.)  

 

According to Jung, by making the shadow more conscious a person enters “a boundless expanse full of unprecedented uncertainty, with apparently no inside and no outside, no above and no below, no here and no there, no mine and no thine, no good and no bad. It is the world of water where I am indivisibly this and that; where I experience the other in myself and the other-than-myself experiences me." Obviously, this is no easy state to navigate, and gives insight into why humanity at large keeps ‘shadow’ as the primary source of psychic energy. Yet navigating it is vital for the deepening of inner awareness.  

 

To the degree that the shadow is made conscious, we lessen the polar tension and hence diminish its ability to energise our psyche. Jung recognised its power as useful and didn’t try to eliminate it completely, rather he allowed it some measure of expression within his personality. But what he found was that there are deeper sources of polarity within the psyche so that this lessening of shadow powered psychic energy, rather than being disastrous, is, in fact, greatly advantageous.  When approached wisely, what happens according to Jung is a “boundless expanse” of new awareness.

 

Where does the energy for this expansion of awareness come from? On what polarity does it depend? Jung’s answer is that if one follows the inward path it leads to the realisation of the next level of polarity within the psyche; namely anima, the female image within a man, or animus, the male part of a women. Jung wrote: “Recognising the shadow is what I call the apprenticeship. But making out with the anima is what I call the masterpiece that not many bring off.” Insight into this alchemical transmutation of the energies that power romantic love forms a key part of Jung’s work.

 


 

Edited by Yueya
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Posted (edited)

Better tools have been developed in my opinion.

See IFS (internal family systems) by Dick Schwartz (good book is Self Therapy by Bonnie Weiss), and also similarly "Inner Bonding" a book by Margaret Paul.

With these tools you speak directly with the inner child and its negativity-filled "protectors", and resolve them directly.
It is a direct model for communicating directly from the conscious to the subconscious (human to the animal).

Much more advanced than Jung, with tools that are well developed and clearly described in the above books.

In more detail :   there is not one subconscious voice, but several all which have a character and reason for existing ( normally some sort of injury ) that has led to the inner anger / rage / sadness / apathy / hurt and so on ... with these tools you identify each one specifically, dialogue with it, find the cause of its arising and heal it directly.

Edited by rideforever
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@rideforever

 

An assertion about Jung such as yours would only have validity if you’d read a sizable selection of the 20 volumes of his collected works and at least some of the large amount of commentary on it written by others.  But certainly, methods are refined by trial and error over time. What proves effective is kept. For instance you wrote....

 

7 hours ago, rideforever said:

In more detail :   there is not one subconscious voice, but several all which have a character and reason for existing ( normally some sort of injury ) that has led to the inner anger / rage / sadness / apathy / hurt and so on ... with these tools you identify each one specifically, dialogue with it, find the cause of its arising and heal it directly.

 

This has close parallels with a method Jung discovered and used on himself in his early days of exploring his own psyche. However, Jung’s framing was far broader in scope than dealing with the types of causal factors you mention.  Without reading the work of the authors you mention, from your comment I’d say they've shaped tools to accurately treat specific imbalances.  And this is certainly a good thing, providing these tools are used wisely, of course. 
 

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Posted (edited)

The modern methods are rapid and accurate and owe a lot to the insights of meditation on the structure of consciousness; to me it seems far superior.

You talk in an academic way, which is fine if you are a historian, but fixing yourself requires something else.

I like shadow work, I have been on some retreats, and it was good stuff.
But it's all indirect.   Various process that affect what is happening inside, but indirectly.

That's why they talk of dream interpretation, it's like trying to get evidence of what is going on inside from dreams ... because they have no actual tools to just go in.

There is no real conversation between the subconscious and conscious because they don't have the tools for it in the Jung world.

 

Edited by rideforever
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I practise shadow boxing after one defeats the shadow the shadow will take you as their master and be obedient..

 

The darkness is in love with the light and is not separate. This shadow will follow you everywhere and always be apart of you. If one is light the shadow will borrow the light just as the moon does from the sun. When we realize that the shadow is not a dark and negative thing at all the mind will be pacified and we can do more useful thing with our time.

 

 

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On 24/04/2019 at 5:14 PM, rideforever said:

Better tools have been developed in my opinion.

See IFS (internal family systems) by Dick Schwartz (good book is Self Therapy by Bonnie Weiss), and also similarly "Inner Bonding" a book by Margaret Paul.

With these tools you speak directly with the inner child and its negativity-filled "protectors", and resolve them directly.
It is a direct model for communicating directly from the conscious to the subconscious (human to the animal).

Much more advanced than Jung, with tools that are well developed and clearly described in the above books.

In more detail :   there is not one subconscious voice, but several all which have a character and reason for existing ( normally some sort of injury ) that has led to the inner anger / rage / sadness / apathy / hurt and so on ... with these tools you identify each one specifically, dialogue with it, find the cause of its arising and heal it directly.

 

If working with the IFS, it's vital to understand that Protectors are not considered to be negativity-filled but instead they're welcomed as valuable contributors to wellbeing. They may however be burdened by the weight of their duties & the goal of IFS is to unburden them (after unburdening any Exiles they protect) so that they're free to adopt less onerous functions (because the Exiles are then no longer in need of their protection).

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An excellent summation of the importance of accepting one's own darkness: 

  

 

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