Freud’s View Of Consciousness
Freud’s topographical theory was the first attempt to map out the human psyche in modern times. Freud posited that there are three levels of consciousness: the conscious, the unconscious, and the preconscious.
- The conscious is the part of the mind that’s within your awareness in the present moment.
- The preconscious mind contains all memories that are within easy recall but are not in present awareness.
- The unconscious is the part of the psyche that’s hidden from awareness and difficult or impossible to recall.
To Freud, the unconscious was a store of urges, desires, and memories that the conscious mind kept buried to defend itself, yet he strove to uncover what was in the unconscious mind. He believed that once unconscious urges and motivations were brought to light, they could be dealt with directly and overcome. He believed that healing would take place when the patient experienced catharsis by releasing what was trapped in the unconscious.
How Did Carl Jung See Consciousness?
Freud’s conception of the unconscious may have formed a part of the basis of the shadow that Carl Jung, his student and colleague, later put forward. Jung developed his theory of light and shadow psychology throughout his career.
Jung’s methods included analyzing dreams, conducting word association exercises, and working with the active imagination. He spoke about his theories in a famous lecture series in 1935, outlining and detailing his theories about the human mind. The idea of the shadow was a part of his work.
Jungian Psychology Shadow Definitions
In Jungian psychology, shadow might refer to two different concepts. In one sense, the shadow includes everything in the unconscious mind, good or bad. In another definition, the shadow might include only the part of the personality that you don’t want to identify as self but is still a part of your unconscious mind. According to this theory, this dark side of your personality contains everything your conscious mind can’t admit about itself.
However, some of the concepts you might not want to identify with might not all be negative. According to the Society of Analytical Psychology, Jung believed the shadow also had good qualities: “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.”
Jung was interested in archetypes and often referred to them in his writings about shadow psychology. The word archetype is used in art and literature to mean a symbol or motif that recurs, either in one work or across many works.
For Jung, the archetype had a much broader, yet more complex, meaning. He considered archetypes as ideas and possibilities that are common to all humans. He saw them as “systems of readiness.” Archetypes, in the Jungian sense, show up as images and emotions but are thought to be something much deeper that can’t be described.
Jungian archetypes are systems and ideas that come built into the structure of the brain. They are thought to be inherited by every human. Jung also believed that archetypes represent a goal that the whole of a person’s consciousness strives to attain. Despite this function of the conscious mind, archetypes are thought to come from the collective unconscious.
Jung believed in archetypal figures, such as mother and father, and archetypal objects, such as the moon and the sun. He also believed in archetypal events, including birth and death.
The Collective Unconscious
The collective unconscious is another important concept to Jungian psychologists. According to Jungian psychology, individuals tie into a larger unconscious network that all humans have. This is the collective unconscious. It contains all the ancestral memories and experiences that are passed on to everyone. It absorbs and assimilates the unconscious lives of its colleagues and, in turn, provides the foundation to help new young ones come online.
What Is The Light Of Consciousness?
The conscious part of your mind can be considered the part that is bathed in light, easily seen and understood. When an urge or conflict is within the shadow, it is thought that you can’t deal with it directly. It can have a profound impact on your thoughts and behaviors, but in a way that you can’t be directly aware of at the moment.
However, when these forces are in the light of consciousness, you can use logic and reason as you seek to understand yourself better. Jung believed that each age faced the task of understanding the archetypes of the collective unconscious. He thought the archetypes could never be overcome or set aside without harming mental health, but they might be understood.
Layers Of The Shadow
Jung talked about layers of shadow. The upper layers were the things in the mind that you could keep out of consciousness by shifting your attention, being forgetful, or repressing them. These upper layers are a part of the individual’s direct experiences.
The deeper layers of the shadow are the archetypes possessed by all humans. Jung doubted that these deeper layers could ever be brought into the direct personal experience. They are there within the human brain, independent of the conscious mind.
Jung also put forward the notion of the projection of the shadow. When there’s a part of your mind that you can’t accept as a part of yourself, it’s thought that you can’t experience that part of your mind directly. Instead, you project that fault or unacceptable urge onto the morality of someone else.
Jung suggested that projection of the shadow happens when you see your shadow. Being confronted with some undesirable or embarrassing part of yourself, you immediately see that quality in someone else. It’s only through disciplined self-education that you can understand and address what’s in the shadow.
How Does The Shadow Appear?
Both Jung and Freud spent much of their career focusing on the interpretation of dreams. Jung believed that an individual could see their own shadow in dreams as well as visions. Although Jung’s idea of the appearance of the shadow came from the individual’s experiences, later theorists suggested that it also contained the shadow of society.
The way you interact with the shadow within your dream or vision may hold important information about your state of mind. It may reveal hidden conflicts within your mind or ways you see yourself as different, and often better, than the shadow.
Jung wrote at length about individuation and how the shadow played into that. He said that individuation was a process of developing the individual personality that could result in mental and physical healing. The process was one that brought the shadow into the light, uniting the personal and collective unconscious and bringing them into the conscious mind.
When a person makes the journey from defining themselves as a conventional mask or persona to becoming fully individuated, there is a danger that the shadow will overwhelm them. However, it is thought that the shadow can be integrated into consciousness as a first step of the psychoanalytic process. From there, the shadow must continue to be acknowledged throughout life.
Because the shadow is believed to contain elements of the psyche that are hidden, it may be the root of creativity. The archetypes and all their motifs, metaphors, images, and emotions can play a large part in the creative arts. Also, art often recognizes the dark, undesirable parts of the self and puts them on display. When the conscious mind can’t acknowledge them, they may be presented as fictional characters or artistic images.
Doing Shadow Work
People who are experiencing significant symptoms of a mental health condition may go to therapy not knowing what is wrong. Therapists who recognize the concept of the shadow in psychology may be able to help them do what’s called “shadow work.”
Shadow work is any type of therapy or another endeavor that seeks to reveal what lies within the shadow. There are many potential benefits to shadow work:
- Relief of mental and physical suffering
- Greater personal authenticity
- Increased creativity
- Increased energy
- Improved relationships
- Greater maturity
- Clarity of perceptions
Many types of therapy can be used for shadow work. Art therapy may be helpful in revealing and overcoming what is hidden in the shadow. One key to shadow work, as described by Zweig and Wolf in 1997, is that the shadow is “not a problem to be solved, it is a mystery to be faced.”
Talk therapy can also be helpful for shadow work. The therapist typically provides a safe space where a person can explore their shadow freely. Resistance may come up, causing the person to retreat from, or lash out against, therapy. However, resistance can be overcome, and therapy can move forward to help the person gain the benefits of revealing and understanding the shadow.
Jung has had plenty of skeptics over the years. However, a meta-analysis published in Behavioral Sciences (Basel) found that Jungian psychotherapy can provide numerous benefits and concluded that it should be considered an empirically proven method.
The accessibility of shadow work is growing rapidly through the increasing availability of online therapy services. Clinical researchers are growing increasingly satisfied with the quality and success rates of online therapy. Also, several studies have shown that patients prefer online therapy to in-person therapy.
If you’re experiencing mental or emotional health concerns, you can talk to an online therapist about shadow work and other types of therapy. With an online therapy service like BetterHelp, you can speak with a licensed therapist by phone, live chat, videoconferencing, or a combination of these methods. You can also write to your therapist at any time through in-app messaging, and they’ll respond as soon as they can. This may be useful if you want to communicate any thoughts or insights in between sessions.
Read what others have to say about their experience with online therapy below.
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The shadow in psychology is a concept that grew out of psychoanalytic theory of Carl Jung, who believed it was an archetype of the darker parts of our psyche. Shadow work is a type of therapy developed by Carl Jung that focuses on the hidden parts of the psyche. It may help people learn to be honest about the parts of themselves they may not like and then eventually accept their whole selves. Shadow work may be useful for healing trauma, relieving distress, increasing creativity, and improving relationships.
If you’re interested in learning more about Jungian psychology and shadow work, you might consider online therapy. BetterHelp has a network of more than 25,000 therapists, so you can be matched with a licensed therapist who has training in Jungian psychology. Take the first step toward learning more about shadow psychology and reach out to BetterHelp today.
What is the shadow in psychology?
The “shadow” is a psychological concept that represents the aspects of our personality or psyche that we may deem to be unacceptable. While originally developed by Carl Jung, the concept of the shadow takes its inspiration from Sigmund Freud’s concept of the unconscious. This unconscious side of our mind is often hidden or suppressed due to our own personal disapproval (or society’s potential disapproval) of what it represents. As a result, an individual’s conscious life may involve masking or hiding elements of one’s personality in order to adapt or conform.
What is an example of shadow psychology?
As the unconscious or “dark” part of our minds, the shadow may be exemplified by a number of feelings or thoughts. For example, we may have aspects of our self-image we don’t like that can create insecurities. Our personal shadow self may notice or point out these insecurities in other people as a way to express this unconscious self-criticism without facing our flaws head-on.
Another example could involve the repression of one’s sexual identity due to the restrictions of a person’s religion. As a result, that person’s true identity and the guilt they may feel for potentially violating the tenets of their religion could form their shadow self.
What is Jung's shadow theory?
Carl Jung’s concept of the “shadow” refers to one of two components that Jung believed made up human identity: the shadow and the ego. Jung called the shadow “the thing a person has no wish to be”; due to the possible guilt or shame associated with the part of the mind, it is often hidden or made to be inferior in order to repress it. Jung believed that the whole of society has a shadow (referred to as the collective shadow) and that individuals need to face both their shadow side and their whole ego-personality in order to tap the potential hidden power within us all.
What is shadow behavior?
Shadow behavior can manifest in a variety of ways, depending on what environment a person must adapt to and what they personally find shameful or inappropriate. Here are a few examples of shadow behavior you may encounter in your day-to-day life.
- Aggression: If we face disrespect or degradation in our daily lives but do not acknowledge these feelings, we may push down or deny our aggression. If ignored, these feelings may bubble up at random and result in potentially violent or harmful behaviors.
- Resistance: Another shadow behavior that may impede progress in life is resistance. During times of change, our minds may become resistant as a form of self-preservation. This may result in self-sabotage or other impediments to progress until the source of this resistance is acknowledged.
- Impatience or Short Temper: One behavior that can often be seen in corporate workplaces is a quick temper. If you subconsciously feel you are not being treated well but cannot express this to your supervisors, you may become short-tempered with coworkers or subordinates instead.
What is shadow trauma?
The term “shadow trauma” may refer to subconscious trauma, which are experiences we may not recognize as detrimental to our mental health and well-being. In some cases, this trauma can stem from childhood and may be difficult to remember, which can result in long-term consequences if left unacknowledged or untreated. It can be possible to address these experiences and process subconscious trauma, but this may require significant self-compassion and the assistance of a mental healthcare professional.
What is shadow healing?
Shadow healing, more commonly referred to as shadow work, is the process of acknowledging the suppressed parts of our personality and mind in order to gain balance and a better understanding of one’s self. There are a number of ways in which an individual can practice shadow work and expand their conscious awareness of their mind, including through psychoanalytic psychotherapy, journaling, and dream analysis.
The benefits of shadow work can vary and may change depending on what type of thoughts and behaviors are associated with an individual’s shadow self. For example, your shadow self may want to commit acts that are illegal or potentially immoral. Without understanding your shadow self or seeking professional help, it may take considerable moral effort to prevent yourself from acting on those desires.
How do I heal my shadow self?
While it may not be possible to “heal” your shadow self in a traditional sense, there are ways you may begin to embrace this part of your psyche. One of the primary methods involves recognizing the potential benefits of shadow work, which typically starts with acknowledging the suppressed parts of your mind and understanding the intentions behind these thought patterns.
This process can be challenging and require a strong sense of self-awareness, as the shadow parts of our psyche are ones we typically do not consider a part of our existing self-image. By avoiding judging these thoughts and instead seeking to understand our own light and dark sides, we may become more well-rounded and healthy individuals.
What are shadow archetypes?
The shadow is one of four archetypes identified by Carl Jung as representative of the collective unconscious. In addition to the shadow, they include the self, the persona, and the anima or animus.
- Shadow: The shadow archetype is a part of the unconscious mind that includes ideas, desires, and instincts we may refuse to acknowledge or actively suppress. While some of these behaviors may be considered acceptable, some may be unacceptable in our eyes or the eyes of society.
- Self: The “self” archetype is defined by the unification of the conscious and unconscious mind. This concept was often represented by a dot placed in the center of a circle; the dot was meant to be an individual’s ego-personality, while the circle around it was the encompassing overall self.
- Persona: Sometimes referred to as the “mask,” the persona archetype can make up part of our conscious personality and is often the way we present ourselves socially. These are the behaviors we undertake as a means to adapt to society and fit in with our peers.
- Anima/Animus: The anima, or the feminine part of the male mind, and the animus, the male part of the female mind, are the means by which our minds communicate with the collective unconscious.
What is the opposite of the shadow in psychology?
The opposite of the shadow in Jungian psychology is the persona or the “mask”, which is the archetypal part of our mind that helps us to adapt to society. In order for our persona to function, we have to suppress the darkness, conscious of our shadow self but avoiding allowing its traits to result in rejection or negative consequences. As a result, these ignored or hidden attributes may cause built-up emotions that could result in shadow behaviors. These behaviors can vary but may include emotional outbursts or the mistreatment of those around us.
Is your shadow self evil?
While the shadow self may contain dark aspects or desires, it is not inherently evil. However, part of the driving force behind the repression of the shadow self can be rooted in shame or guilt. This can mean that our shadow self may hold past experiences we cannot forgive ourselves for, inappropriate sexual desires, or violent impulses. While acknowledging the shadow self may be helpful and could lead to a better understanding of ourselves and human nature, it's important to note that it is never appropriate to act on desires that may harm oneself or others.
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