The Shadow
The Dark Side of the Psyche
Also Read:      Shadow Overview      The Shadow In The 'Individuation Process'      Shadow Feminism      Darth Vader as the Shadow
Use Your Mouse place your mouse over word for link or definition      Words in Red Are Links      Words in Beige Have Definitions

The Shadow is always the same gender as the individual. The Shadow is considered to be a collection of inferiorities, undeveloped, and regressive aspects of the personality. They are primarily of an emotional nature and have a kind of autonomy, displaying an obsessive or more accurately a possessive quality.
These aspects are generally associated with projections. Projection is defined as "the situation in which one unconsciously invests another person (or object) with notions or characteristics of one's own.

The shadow constitutes of all that is opposed to the Persona. The shadow originates because the Ego experiences certain result which the Ego deems 'inappropriate'. As such, the shadow is nothing new but has been known for ages. However, the shadow is most often visible in masses, where the shadow can be personified. This is why so many people were taken in by Hitler. Because it is unpleasant to face the shadow, most people try to get rid of the shadow by ignoring it. Still, it is possible to assimilate the shadow into the conscious personality, but this requires recognising the dark characteristics of the personality, an act of self-knowledge which will meet with considerable resistance. is quite within the bounds of possibility for a man to recognise the relative evil of his nature, but it is a rare and shattering experience for him to gaze into the face of absolute evil.

Still, is it reasonable to presume that the aspect of the shadow can influence an entire country and even contain the same aspects? According to Jung, it can as was seen in Germany during the rise of Hitler and World War II.

It is important to note that the shadow is not necessarily evil. While it is a moral problem of the ego-personality, it can at times contain things which cannot be said to be evil. As Jung says:
If it has been believed hitherto that the human shadow was the source of 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. On this level of understanding, evil appears more as a distortion, a deformation, a misinterpretation and misapplication of facts that in themselves are natural.

Symbolism in Dreams and Narratives

The Shadow is occasionally an animal or part-animal figure, but usually a person of the same sex as the ego-bearer (dreamer/hero/heroine) but with opposite qualities (dark, shady, dangerous). This figure is usually a peer figure closely associated with the ego-bearer—a dark or evil twin or sibling, a double, etc. If the ego-bearer identifies with qualities that society rejects (i.e. is a criminal or the like), the shadow can carry positive qualities (see Edgar Allen Poe's short story “William Wilson”), but more typically the shadow carries negative or evil qualities.
Cinderella As The Shadow Figure

Cinderella is a shadow figure. She is ignored and neglected by her elder sisters. They go out into the world, but Cinderella is shut up indoors. This represents the contrast between the conscious ego (which relates to the outside world) and those parts of the unconscious that have not been allowed any part in one's conscious activity. However, Cinderella eventually escapes from her imprisonment and marries the Prince. This marriage symbolizes the joining together of conscious ego (Prince) and shadow (Cinderella), which is the end result of the penetration of the conscious mind by the unconscious and/or the penetration of the unconscious by consciousness. Symbolically - in myths and in dreams - consciousness is usually represented as male, the unconscious as female; and the sexual penetration of female by male is therfore a common symbol of the descent of consciousness into the dark cave-like depths of the unconscious. (Here is a splendid example of the difference between Freud and Jung: whereas for Freud all - nearly all - dream images were symbols of sexuality, Jung asks us to entertain the possibility that the sexual act itself may be a symbol pointing to something beyond itself.)

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Enter the Jungian concept of the shadow, all those qualities that could have become part of the structure of the ego but were repressed. What we mistake for Jekyll's goodness is only a mask that has been distorted and brought into the service of the egocentric ego. Below this mask lies the shadow, hidden away. But unless the dark side is included, a person cannot be whole. When Hyde emerges we are appalled by his evil acts, but he is merely the manifestation of the absence of good. John Sanford {noted Jungian psychologist} argues that the blame for Hyde's evil lies with Jekyll's false ego which, having distorted what it ought to be, has produced evil. It is the egocentric aspect of the ego intent on destroying wholeness that is the focus of evil. The argument continues that Hyde's evil is used by the Self to destroy that which is truly evil: Jekyll's egocentricity....more


This involves being taken over by the shadow, “acting out” in the voice of the shadow without consciously choosing to do so and often without realizing that one is doing this. A person is especially vulnerable to shadow possession when under the influence of mob psychology, alcohol, drugs, etc.


Individual: we usually project shadow qualities on to others (especially peer figures) of the same sex, who may or may not “really” have the qualities we are rejecting. The mark of shadow projection is compulsiveness and intolerance, because we are really rejecting qualities that we have but can't acknowledge as our own.

Collective: the “in” group frequently projects its collective shadow qualities on to the “out” group: e.g. capitalists vs. communists and vice versa, Jews vs. Arabs, etc.

we can avoid shadow possession and withdraw shadow projection by recognizing that these qualities are really part of ourselves and by attempting to channel their negative aspects in positive directions. In narratives, this is often symbolized by acknowledging one's kinship/friendship/close bond with the personified shadow and sometimes working together with him/her to achieve a goal.

Myths-Dreams-Symbols is Sponsored by
Gifford Fence-Middle Tennessee       Gifford Fence Orlando