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ShadowThe shadow is simply the dark side of someone's personality. And what is dark is always known only indirectly through projection.  That is, one discovers his dark side as something belonging to others: friends, relatives, fictitious characters, etc. This is why the meeting with the personal shadow is considered to be a moral effort. The difficulty of integrate the shadow is huge, if we have to face alone this powerful figure.

The dark side/shadow feature may be also equaled with the Freudian personal unconscious. It comprises everything one repressed because is rejected by the superego. Freud linked these repressed contents mainly with the sexual drives. Therefore the shadow has almost always a sexual component.

The shadow is the first to be met when one starts his self analysis. As long as the shadow is not assimilated and controlled by the consciousness, it may appear in dreams and fantasies mingled with the anima archetype . Thus one can dream of bad women or witches, of women with personal high power and destructive impulses affecting man's mind and Eros. There's also the phallic mother (a female figure endowed with phallic, aggressive powers) if the dreamer repressed a part of  his own aggressiveness.

The black shadow may appear as an archetype too. The devil's images and the demonic features (symbols) are very common to men's dreams. Also the devil-like characters - who compensate the luminous figure of the Saviors - share the shadow realm.

Jung about the Shadow

The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge, and it therefore,. as a rule, meets with considerable resistance. Indeed, self-knowledge as a psychotherapeutic measure frequently requires much painstaking work extending over a long period. (From Aion: Phenomenology of the Self published in The Portable Jung, edited by Joseph Campbell, Penguin Books, 1976, p. 145.)

Further resources:

  • More about the shadow concept may be found in Carl Jung's book The Relation between the Ego and the Unconscious, published in Volume 7 of the Collected Works. You can order this book from
  • Our paper entitled The Meaning of a Dream with Shadow, illustrates the occurrence and function of shadow in our dreams. This paper is included in our Jung and Dreams email course. Learn more...


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