We all have a “dark” side, a side of us well hidden from the outer world. We all have an innate side that is untamed, not conformed to society, yet not free. This side holds all our desires, fantasies, yearnings and passions. This side of us is under our personas, our external personalities, our masks we wear within society so that we can be accepted and have success in our external existence. But no matter how much we pretend, and cover our selves with external material, and cloud our mind with logical thought and rational intelligence, there always feels as if something is missing; as if we have yet to realize something fully that may be too irrational for us to consider. To me, this means, we have yet to have realized our “Wild” and so-called “dark” side of our personality: our Shadow Self.
The individuation process, developed by C.G. Jung, is a process of self-realization, a process that takes years to a life time to complete, yet a process we all unconsciously go through in some form throughout our human existence.
In the individuation process (self-realization), according to C.G. Jung, there are four phases. Phase I: finding our shadow self, Phase II: meeting our anima/animus (Soul Image), Phase III: Mana personalities, and Phase VI: realization of Self. For more in-depth information related to all four phases of the Individuation Process, please follow this link: Individuation Process Finding Your Self.
Finding Your Self is my first blog. Bookmark/follow it if you wish, I still post there from time to time.
As the title states, this post is focused on Phase one and two of the Individuation Process, the Shadow Self and Soul Image.
According to C.G. Jung, as found in Basic Writings of C.G. Jung, Volume 6 when some individuals realize their shadow self:
“Shadow self: is the “dark” part of one’s personality. Some, when realizing this part of themselves, get depressed and begin to doubt everything, finding nothing right anywhere. One’s arrogance and the despondency of the other share a common uncertainty to their boundaries. Uncertainty of the arrogant one forces him to “puff up” his truths and to win proselytes to his side in order to prove himself trustworthy to his followers. He feels isolated by his knowledge and doesn’t want to be left alone with his beliefs because when convincing someone else of his beliefs is when he feels safe from his gnawing doubts.
“The despondent person is the opposite. The more he withdraws and hides himself, the greater becomes his secret need to be understood and recognized. There arises within him a defiant conviction of his unrecognized merits, and in consequence he is sensitive to the slightest disapprobation, always feeling morbid pride and an isolated discontent. “GOD like” or “psychic inflation” is united when discussion involves an extension of the personality beyond individual limits, state of being “puffed up”.”
The first step taken towards self-realization (individuation) is when one meets their Shadow self: the part of one’s psyche that they have not previously brought into the light of consciousness. It is, for this reason, the “primitive” (undeveloped or underdeveloped) side of one’s personality, and is also known as the so-called “negative” side of one’s personality. The shadow is the opposition to whatever one has so far regarded as “making a positive contribution to my well-being.”
Overcoming the temptations: Projection and Suppression
In order to reach the second stage of individuation one must resist two temptations. First, one must avoid projecting their shadow on to other people. One’s shadow, because it is their “dark” side, may be quite frightening and one may even see it as something evil. One may therefore want to disown it, and one way of doing this is to make believe it is the property of someone else.
In the theory of project, we unload our “dark” side on to some other individual or group, which then becomes the scapegoat that carries the blame for everything that is wrong in our lives or our society. According to Jung, who stated somewhere, in relation to Jesus’s quote “Love thy neighbor”: “But what if I should discover that that very enemy himself is within me, that I myself am the enemy who must be loved – what then?” Jung’s answer is that one must learn to integrate the “dark” side of one’s self, which means accepting it and allowing it to proper expression under the control of one’s conscious mind. It will then cease to be dark, terrifying and hostile and it will enhance the quality of one’s life, advance one’s personal development and increase one’s happiness.
The second temptation to be resisted is suppressing the shadow, which means ignoring it all together and letting it sink back into the unconscious mind (e.g. if Cinderella never realized her shadow, she would still be locked behind the closed doors which represents her unconscious desires to be free. Read more examples of shadow self here *archetypes in fairy tales). Whatever pain or unease of one’s shadow may cause them, it consists of precisely those parts of one’s total self that one needs to utilize if they are to achieve full personal growth. To suppress the shadow is merely to go back to the beginning, and sooner or later one will be FORCED to come to terms with this “dark” side of one’s self.
Usually, the first encounter with the shadow leads only to a partial acceptance of it, a mere acknowledgement of its existence. It is best to be aware of what appears as the less desirable – the “dark” aspects of one’s personality – because no further progress can be made unless one acknowledges their shadow self. Acknowledgement (awareness) is only the first step.
(Source of information in relation to projection and suppression: Shadow Self )
“Realization of the shadow is the awareness of the inferior part of the personality – the part most people hide or are unaware of (such as depressed, angry, suffering, flawed) the everyday mask people where hide this side, the side man hides even to himself.” C.G. Jung
sourcanvas “Behind our mask is where our true self hides” – ME
An example of a presenter of our shadow’s self could be from Greek mythology, in relation to Hecate, which is often met when one is at a Crossroads.
Encountering the “soul image” Anima/Animus – Masculine/Feminine Qualities Within the Psyche
The second stage of the individuation process means encountering what Jung calls the ‘soul-image’, which is one of the *archetypal images. For a man this is the anima; for a woman, the animus. The anima is the feminine aspects of a male psyche: for example, gentleness, tenderness, patience, receptiveness, closeness to nature, readiness to forgive, and so on. The animus is the male side of a female psyche: assertiveness, the will to control and take charge, fighting spirit, and so on.
One’s soul-image (anima/animus) will lead their conscious ego safely into the unconscious and safely out again. A mythological example could be this: When Theseus needed to enter the labyrinth in Crete in order to slay the monstrous Minotaur, the fair Ariadne [anima], with her thread, enabled him to go in and find his way out again. According to Jung’s theory of *archetypes (in psychological terms), the labyrinth is a symbol of the unconscious, the monster is the frightening and threatening neglected aspect of unconscious and that has “gone wild” [shadow self]; the slaying of the monster means “taming” that wild, unruly force and bringing it under conscious control [controlling the Shadow Self]. The slaying can be accomplished, however, only by love (Ariadne – the feminine) – only by accepting the neglected thing, and welcoming it into our unconscious [accepting and welcoming our Shadow Self].
The soul-image [anima/animus], then, is a mediator – a go-between or middle-man (or middle-woman) – who establishes communication between the conscious ego and the unconscious and reconciles the two. For more examples of the anima/animus, click here Finding Your Self .
Dream significance and archetypes of animus/anima
In dreams Jung said that the animus is more likely to be personified by multiple male figures, while the anima is frequently a single female. One might look on the concept of anima-animus as a kind of yin/yang solution to the duality of human sexuality. Anima/animus are products of the long human experience of man with woman and woman with man: as man has opened to his feminine nature, so has woman as a corresponding male side. Anima/animus also act as collective images which motivate each sex to respond to and understand members of the other gender.
With the exception of the mother figure, the dream symbols that represent the soul-image are always of the opposite sex to the dreamer. Thus, a man’s anima may be represented in his dreams by his sister; a woman’s animus by her brother. Other alchemical symbols associated with male and female aspects of the psyche, Earth, and “heaven” (sky) may also be seen in dreams.
(Source for Soul Image (anima/animus) and dream significance and archetypes of animus/anima: Soul Image )
“*Archetypes are complexes of experiences that come upon us like fate, and their effects are felt in our most personal life. The anima no longer crosses our path as a goddess, but, it may be, as an intimately personal misadventure, or perhaps as our best venture.” C.G. Jung
As stated, in dreams one’s shadow may be represented either by some type of figure (human or non) of the same sex as one’s self (even an elder brother or sister, a best friend, or some alien or primitive person) or by a person who represents one’s opposite (i.e. someone one wishes to be like that is of the same sex). In summary, the Shadow self is represented by the anima (in male) or animus (in female).
Meeting our Shadow in dreams: from Basic Writings of C.G. Jung, Volume 6
“…Dreaming of approaching a body of water, with a feeling of cunning and hesitance, fear, of approaching it. As you approach the shore everything becomes dark and uncannily. Before peering into the water panic rises in you and you wake up. This is a sign of “coming to life.” Man’s descent to water is needed in order to evoke the miracle of coming to life. We always fear our true selves, including our shadow part we hide under our persona. Water is the common symbol of the unconscious.
“Whoever looks into the water will first see their own face, a confrontation of oneself. It shows the face we don’t show to the world. The true face [underneath our personas]. The confrontation is the first test of courage, a test that frightens off most people. If we are able to see our shadow self, and can bear knowing about it, then a small part of the problem is solved: we have at least brought up the personal unconscious. The shadow is the living part of the personality and therefore wants to live in it in some form… In the end one has to admit that there are other problems one simply can’t solve on one’s own resources.
“Such an admission as the advantages of being honest, trustful and in accord with reality, and this prepares the ground for comprehensive reaction from the collective unconscious: you are now inclined to give heed to a helpful idea or intuition, or to notice thoughts which had not been allowed to voice themselves before. Perhaps you will pay attention to the dreams that visit you at such moments, or will reflect on certain inner and outer occurrences that take place at such times.”
The above information was gathered over the period of three years. I have been interested in Analytical Psychology since I was introduced to it in 2011 from a friend. I have found I have began the Individuation process within myself at the beginning of my young adulthood, and I am only recently grasping the concept of this “complex” process.
The below quotation ends this post. The next post will be a continuation of this post, but in a more personal and may be poetic style, versus the textbook definitions and interpretations posted here. Stay tuned!
C.G. Jung – Dream, Memories, Reflections:
“A man who has not passed through the inferno of his passions has never overcome them. They then dwell in the house next door, and at any moment a flame may dart out and set fire to his own house. Whenever we give up, leave behind, and forget too much, there is always the danger that the things we have neglected will return with added force.”
*NOTE: archetype is an old-term related to patterns of thoughts and behavior that which we were born with (instincts within our unconscious/ancestral “primitive” memories) and patterns of thought and behavior that which we learned from our parents/close relatives, and interactions with in society at our infant through toddler stages of development primarily, which then evolved throughout our child and adulthood. The term “archetype” has been traced back to the times of Plato. A famous example of this is in Plato’s The Republic, related to his cave allegory, in relation to his theory of forms:
“Long before Carl Jung wrote about archetypes, Plato came up with his theory of forms. [The theory of forms] described the common nature of all things in the world, not just of a table for instance, but of all the tables that ever was and ever will be. This Platonic form of the ideal table is eternal and changeless. It has an essential stableness, as it were, that exists whether the table is where you ate lunch in the school cafeteria or the one at a Paris café where you fell in love. In Plato’s famous allegory of the cave in “The Republic,” the things that we see on a daily basis, like the table in front of you, are merely shadows of the ideal form. Likewise, the virtues and emotions we experience on a daily basis are nothing more than temporary replicas of what we already know subconsciously (at the very core of our beings) about love, happiness and misery, ect. Everything we experience in life, from table to grave, and with all the feelings that accompany our existence, are recollections, Plato contends, of what our souls already know. As with Jung’s archetypes, the forms in their idealized states are invisible to the eye. But because our souls have existed eternally, we retain enough of a memory to recognize them. This Platonic notion of Perfect Form, like Jung’s notions of Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, requires a constant awareness of the big picture as well as an intense interest in self-observation.”
Source of quote: archetypes.com