The shadow as a concept comprises everything the conscious personality experiences as negative. The shadow, Id, or shadow archetype refers to an unconscious aspect of the personality which the conscious ego does not identify in itself.
In dreams and fantasies the shadow appears with the characteristics of a personality of the same sex as the ego, but in a very different configuration. It is presented as the eternal antagonist of an individual or group, or the dark brother within, who always accompanies one, the way Mephistopheles accompanied Goethe’s Faust.
The role of the Id within is sometimes hidden, and sometimes rejected or repressed, by the conscious ego. In the latter case it is pushed into the unconscious, where, because of its energy, it acts as a complex. People can, for example, be fully aware that they are avaricious, greedy, or aggressive and still manage to hide these truths from others beneath the mask of the persona. But they can also repress those characteristics. Then they are no longer conscious of them at all, and their moral ego is reestablished.
Behaviour of the Shadow
Because one tends to reject or remain ignorant of the least desirable aspects of one’s personality, the shadow is largely negative. There are, however, positive aspects that may also remain hidden in one’s Id (especially in people with low self-esteem, anxieties, and false beliefs).
This archetype’s appearance and role depend greatly on the living experience of the individual because much of the shadow develops in the individual’s mind rather than simply being inherited in the collective unconscious. Nevertheless, some Jungians maintain that the Id contains, besides the personal shadow, the shadow of society … fed by the neglected and repressed collective values.
Contrary to the Freudian definition of shadow, the Jungian shadow can include everything outside the light of consciousness and may be positive or negative. “Everyone carries a shadow,” Jung wrote, “and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.” It may be (in part) one’s link to more primitive animal instincts, which are superseded during early childhood by the conscious mind.
Carl Jung (buy his books from Amazon) stated the Id to be the unknown dark side of the personality. According to Jung, this archetype, in being instinctive and irrational, is prone to psychological projection, in which a perceived personal inferiority is recognized as a perceived moral deficiency in someone else. Jung writes that if these projections remain hidden, “The projection-making factor (the Shadow archetype) then has a free hand and can realize its object—if it has one—or bring about some other situation characteristic of its power.” These projections insulate and harm individuals by acting as a constantly thickening veil of illusion between the ego and the real world.
The Shadow in Individuation
The eventual encounter with the Id plays a central part in the process of individuation. Jung considered that “the course of individuation…exhibits a certain formal regularity. Its signposts and milestones are various archetypal symbols” marking its stages.
The dissolution of the persona and the launch of the individuation process also brings with it “the danger of falling victim to the shadow … the black shadow which everybody carries with him, the inferior and therefore hidden aspect of the personality”—of a merger with the shadow.
This archetype sometimes overwhelms a person’s actions; for example, when the conscious mind is shocked, confused, or paralyzed by indecision. ‘A man who is possessed by his Id is always standing in his own light and falling into his own traps … living below his own level’: hence, in terms of the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, it must be Jekyll, the conscious personality, who integrates the Id … and not vice versa. Otherwise the conscious becomes the slave of the autonomous shadow.
Active imagination is a process in Jungian psychology used to bridge the gap between the conscious and unconscious minds: opening oneself to the unconscious and giving free rein to fantasy, while at the same time maintaining an active, attentive, conscious point of view. The process leads to a synthesis that contains both perspectives, but in a new and surprising way.
The wise old man (also called senex, sage or sophos) is an archetype as described by Carl Jung, as well as a classic literary figure, and may be seen as a stock character. The wise old man can be a profound philosopher distinguished for wisdom and sound judgment.
In literature, the sage often takes the form of a mentor or a teacher to the hero, playing a crucial role in the hero’s journey. The sage archetype may be portrayed by a God or a Godess, a magician or wizard, a philosopher or an advisor.
The sage is usually depicted as a wise old man or an old crone with great foresight, who offers measured advice and guidance to help the hero in his quest, and at the same time letting the hero choose his path towards destiny.
The persona, for Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, was the social face the individual presented to the world—”a kind of mask, designed on the one hand to make a definite impression upon others, and on the other to conceal the true nature of the individual”.
Jung’s individuation process starts from this level, of the persona, of the social mask, trying to break the artificial convention through awareness of its presence and function, and the attenuation of its often oppressive-imperative character.
Active imagination is intended to bring about a state of hypnagogia. This is the state in between sleep and wakefulness, where people may be partially aware that they are dreaming.
Always remember that the principle is always the same: to allow the unconscious to manifest into consciousness and then trying to integrate its lessons, thus making important progress towards achieving what Jung called individuation.
Anima and animus are gender specific archetypal structures in the collective unconscious that are compensatory to conscious gender identity.
One of the most complex and least understood features of his theory, the idea of a contrasexual archetype, developed out of Jung’s desire to conceptualize the important complementary poles in human psychological functioning. From his experiences of the emotional power of projection in his patients and in himself, he conceived first of the anima as a numinous figure in a man’s unconscious.
In Jungian psychology, also called analytical psychology, individuation is the process where the individual self develops out of an undifferentiated unconscious – seen as a developmental psychic process during which innate elements of personality, the components of the immature psyche, and the experiences of the person’s life become, if the process is more or less successful, integrated over time into a well-functioning whole. Other psychoanalytic theorists describe it as the stage where an individual transcends group attachment and narcissistic self-absorption.