Our Dark Side

Published February 8, 2017 by etain1

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“It is a frightening thought that man also has a shadow side to him, consisting not just of little weaknesses – and foibles, but of a positively demonic dynamism. The individual seldom knows anything of this; to him, as an individual, it is incredible that he should ever in any circumstances go beyond himself. But let these harmless creatures form a mass, and there emerges a ranging monster. ~Carl Jung, “On the Psychology of the Unconscious.”

On the other hand, the Shadow Self is an archetype that forms part of the unconscious mind and is composed of repressed ideas, instincts, impulses, weaknesses, desires, perversions and embarrassing fears.  This archetype is often described as the darker side of the psyche, representing wildness, chaos and the unknown. Jung believed that these latent dispositions are present in all of us, in many instances forming a strong source of creative energy.

We are all born pure, like blank canvases.  But at some point during our childhood development, we learn knowledge that teaches us to separate things into good and evil. The moment we eat from this tree of knowledge, our shadows are born and we begin to divide ourselves.  Furthermore, in our cultural ‘socialization’ process, we begin to sort out those traits within us that are acceptable in society, and those unacceptable traits that aren’t (which are later hidden away).  As Jung said:

What we call civilized consciousness has steadily separated itself from the basic instincts. But these instincts have not disappeared. They have merely lost their contact with our consciousness and are thus forced to assert themselves in an indirect fashion. This may be by means of physical symptoms in the case of a neurosis, or by means of incidents of various kinds, or by unaccountable moods, unexpected forgetfulness, or mistakes in in speech… modern man protects himself against seeing his own split state by a system of compartments. Certain areas of outer life and of his own behavior are kept, as it were, in separate drawers and are never confronted with one another.

 

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