The shadow as stated in Jungian psychology is the dark side of our unconscious minds. It’s a part of the unconscious mind where undesirable or unwanted traits and desires are relegated to. The shadow is part of the (Id) primitive, instinctual unconscious and also one of the archetypes (Shadow Archetype).
In Jungian psychology, everybody is believed to have a shadow, otherwise known as the dark side of our personalities or psyches. Some people are consciously aware of their shadow and others are not. Some may deny or suppress their shadow, and they are perhaps completely unaware of its existence.
The Shadow includes the following elements or desires: power, envy, lust, anger, greed and all that is deemed undesirable.
Not all undesirable traits are negative, so some positive but unwanted traits can also be relegated to the shadow. However, most of these desires and traits tend to be negative.
In some people, there is a conflict between their conscious mind, the ego and elements of the shadow. If certain elements or desires of themselves don’t fit in with their self-image, or conflict with their moral, personal or socially acceptable views (The Persona), then those elements are relegated to the shadow and become suppressed.
Car Jung believed that if the shadow traits are suppressed or denied, they will find their way out by the way of dreams, visions and psychological projection. Those who believe they are only good that have no negative traits, will see those traits in others. The more the shadow is denied, the more they will project their negative or dark side onto others. In Freudian psychology, projection was considered a defense mechanism.
This projecting of the shadow can lead to scapegoating of individuals and groups of people that are different than us in some way. This is a way of passing on the blame to others in order to avoid personal responsibility and accountability.
This type of projection has in part led to wars and the eradication or attempted eradication of certain groups of people. An inability to understand ourselves and the projection of our shadow-self is perhaps the most powerful and dangerous weapon of all.
Controlling the Shadow
Carl Jung believed that in order to prevent this dangerous form of projection, a person must become aware of their shadow, and to accept it. The shadow lingers in the depths of the unconscious mind, it must be allowed to enter our conscious thoughts (the ego). It must be acknowledged, accepted and integrated into our conscious minds, then it can be more understood and controlled.
Being a good person is not the absence of a dark side or shadow. It’s about accepting and controlling the evil or monster within, and choosing to do what is right and moral regardless.
Modern Example (Projecting the Shadow)
There have been many examples throughout history of this type of projection, the shadow and scapegoating. However, as of now in the western world we see this happening in the extreme or radical left of politics. We have those claiming to be morally superior, with only good or pure intentions, denying the existence of their own dark side or shadow, then projecting that onto those with differing views.
Some politicians and most main stream media outlets are playing group and identity politics for a supposed moral or pure purpose. However, it’s nothing more than scapegoating others for the purpose of political power and financial gain, not morality.
Then we have those who’s true motivations are suppressed and then projected out, this causes them to see negativity or oppression where there is none.