Basic Concepts: The Shadow

Who was Joseph Campbell? What is a myth? What does "Follow Your Bliss" mean? If you are new to the work of Joseph Campbell, this forum is a good place to start.

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David_Kudler
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Post by David_Kudler » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Now that we have had a fairly thorough kicking-around of the concept of the Collective Unconscious, I'm going to take Tree Hugger's suggestion and launch a few topics that focus on the specific archetypes and how they emerge in myths, dreams and religion.



I'm going to follow Campbell's outline of Jung's theory as he lays it out in "Psyche and Symbol," the first lecture in the series, Mythos 1: the Shaping of Our Mythic Tradition. The third of the Archetypes that Campbell discusses (and one of my favorites) is the Shadow.



Here's what Campbell has to say:
Near the bottom of the circle is the “shadow,” as Jung calls it, which we have depicted as a series of separate strokes. The shadow is like the blind spot for the ego: that part of the self about which ego is completely unconscious.

Jung's first interest in Freud was in Freud's theory of the mechanism of repression. What is it in the psyche, Freud asked, that puts certain experiences so out of sight that consciousness is completely unaware of them? Jung's shadow corresponds almost precisely to the Freudian unconscious, which is constituted of shocks that have been experienced and then repressed by the infant and the growing child. The shocks that upset and transform the life experience of one person are never precisely the same as those that have affected another, so these experiences set up an individual’s posture, his structuring attitude toward life



Yet the shadow, this system of individual shocks, and the self, which is a function of basic human biology, both exist in the unconscious realm as far as ego knowledge is concerned. So there must be, Jung argued, two orders to the unconscious: the realm common to all, which he called the “collective” unconscious, and that which he termed the “personal” unconscious, the realm unique to each individual. It is out of these centers that dreams emerge.

Most dreams, of course, are personally oriented: they come from the personal unconscious and are related to experiences quite peculiar to the individual. The order of symbols in these dreams can be interpreted by personal associations—the free-association technique that Freud used. Yet there will be other images in dreams at certain critical moments in life that cannot be interpreted through personal associations, for they are strictly mythological in character. Mythological imagery evolves from the collective unconscious. Jung calls dreams arising from the personal unconscious “little” dreams; the others, he calls “big” dreams. Big dreams often occur in Technicolor.


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Post by Guest » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am



<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Tree Hugger on 2002-06-22 21:32 ]</font>
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Post by David_Kudler » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Thank you, TH.



One of the ways that Jung (and Campbell) suggested that we can identify our own Shadow is to look at the people we intensely dislike--the people we instantly feel an aversion too. Something about that other person resonates with all the implulses that we have refused to recognize in ourselves. We don't allow ourselves to respond to those impulses, and we don't like them in other people. Campbell liked to quote the old verse:

I do not like you, Dr. Fell.

The reason why, I cannot tell.

But this I know, and know full well,

I do not like you Dr. Fell.




That identification of one's own inner archetypes with people or things in the outside world, Jung called 'projection.' We perceive these interactions to be occuring outside us. But what is really going on is a struggle within.



A lot of hero-tales center around the confrontation with the Shadow-figure, who sometimes turns out to be a sort of double, a doppleganger. Thus, at a pivotal point in the Star Wars trilogy, Luke confronts what he believes to be Darth Vader, kills him and discovers, under the mask, his own face. (Of course, my using this as an example is cheating, because George Lucas had read Campbell's interpretations of Jung. But it's a pretty effective moment of 'theater' nonetheless.)



I'm not sure what got me off on that tangernt....
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Post by Guest » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

I think the shadow has moved from an archetype all its own, to all archetypes.



Every archetype has a shadow side! The spectrum of light is wide, and there isn't an archetype one could name that doesn't have a lesson to be learned from experiencing it.



The wizard/devil; the nurturer/vampire; teacher/saboteur.....
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Post by David_Kudler » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Anon--

Thank you for that observation, which is very apt. However, I was speaking very narrowly of Jung's Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious. Check out our long disputation (the third we'd undertaken!) to get an idea of what we're discussing. If you want to skip to the fifth page or so, you'll bypass a number of associates getting quite annoyed with eachother. :grin:

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: David_Kudler on 2002-06-08 17:49 ]</font>
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Post by ? » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

I have just joined this Foundation today because I stumbled upon it and I am one who has loved the works of Cambell and Jung. I have read through several of the discussions and though I know that no one has continued ont his thread for several months I have a couple of comments that relate directly to this topic so I hope it is ok to add them now. First, I am a Buddhist and in Buddhism it is made clear that great good cannot manifest without the appearance of great evil synonomously. It is the emergence of great eveil which provokes the appearance of great good. According to Buddhism, nothing in life escapes this. Second, I draw and the most interesting thing to me as one who draws is that it is only the shadow which defines the light. As I have used these concepts in my life, I find that it is my own shadow side alone which defines my own "light". Only by embracing my shadow side do I come to find my way to create value in the world.
And Buddhism does not differentiate between what is personal and what is collective or universal as much as we do here in the west, or in more traditionally Judeo-Christian outlooks. So the same principle applies to global and even archtypal concepts as well. Naturally much of what we experience as human beings is very personal, and Buddhism would say it is also very universal or collective. Nor does Buddhism separate the biological aspect of our lives from the metaphysical or spiritual, All things are at one time both and not both. So there would be no argument about the difference between the Collective Unconscious and Universal Unconscious. Just some first time thoughts from a first time poster!!!!
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Post by David_Kudler » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Dear ?--
Did you sing a song in the Sixties called '96 Tears'?

Welcome. We look forward to your questions and insight.
David Kudler<br>Publications<br>Joseph Campbell Foundation<br>publications at jcf dot org
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Post by ? » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

(laughs) If I did it was my shadow side! Actually I did-- didn't we all at one time or another?...I had to look up the song on the web to understand why you asked me that question... I never knew it was written by ?. Truthfully I simply put a question mark in the spot for user name because I had no idea what else to put. Didn't know if people used regular names or what... perhaps I should change it... but then it is curiosity that, unlike the cat, keeps me going... thank you for your welcome.
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Post by Scarlett » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Dear David and ?,

I've been reading your posts with much interest. A saying comes to my mind that I hear people use a lot (I'm not sure who originally created this line)

It goes something like this (I'm sure you have heard it before): Be careful when casting out your demons, that you don't cast out the best part of you.

I'm still trying to figure this out for myself based on my experiences. David, I think about the things that I hate most about other people, like you were saying, and I wonder what it means for me personally.

?, when you said that embracing your shadow helps bring forth the light inside you...does embracing the shadow mean accepting those other 'qualities' about you...it can't be that simple. How does one use their 'shadow' to bring forth the greater good in oneself? Maybe that is a question that a person can't answer for me, but I would appreciate any thoughts.

I'm new to the forum, and I seem to be seeking more explanations than actually contributing any theories. I hope that is all right. I guess I lack experience, but I am very curious.
For all men live by truth and stand in need of expression. In love, in art, in avarice, in politics, in labor, in games, we study to utter our painful secret. The man is only half himself, the other half is his expression. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Post by ? » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Scarlett, hi! I am also very very new and curious too! And a poet, I guess....! I can only speak from my own experience- yet it was based on the encouragement of so many others- Joseph Campbell for one... I finally got the courage to embrace my shadow side and follow where it would lead me... with my commom sense side keeping an eye on the journey of course. I don't want to say that would encourage anyone to act against any other person, because that is not what I mean to embrace the shadow side... but there are more enlightened ways to embrace it and act upon it through- well I guess, creativity for one... In doing so, I found a wholeness in me and a richness in life that had always been hidden... why... I don't know. But I found that that which I had been shunning in me from fear based judgement contained so much of the power of who i am... I don't know how to explain it well. And it took me fifty years to get here... i mean i am sort of slow, and i had to know that i would create value with whatever cliff i leapt from... but the result is a far more happy me-- back on my originally intended course, but with much more wisdom and self-knowledge... yes, David I like what you said too- it is sort of the same thing.... that which i have disliked about others i found in abundance in my own self.... It is just now that I am coming back from this journey... how odd and wonderful that i find this group right now! thanks, Scarlett for the question!
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Post by Scarlett » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Thankyou ?,

You've given me something to think about...when you said you express the shadow side through your art. I am a teacher, but every since I could make a sentence, I've enjoyed writing stories. After highschool, I wrote less and less. I've always wanted to write seriously again like I used too -- perhaps that is a way I can explore my 'shadow'. My writings could be something personal, just for me.

I believe Joseph Campbell said once that you don't reach adulthood until your twenties. That's where I'm at right now...even as a mother and a wife...I've still so much to learn. Thank you for the suggestion. A spiritual mentor is always appreciated :smile:
For all men live by truth and stand in need of expression. In love, in art, in avarice, in politics, in labor, in games, we study to utter our painful secret. The man is only half himself, the other half is his expression. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Post by ? » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Scarlett, how kind! I think though that we are all in this together. So we might as well enjoy it! Truthfully, I am grateful that you helped me put into words something that i have not before said... i'm not sure i said it right... but yes I do thinkthat writing would be be a wonderful way to explore one's shadow side. Good luck! Would love to see any output!
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Post by kupinai » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Scarlett wrote:
I've been reading your posts with much interest. A saying comes to my mind that I hear people use a lot (I'm not sure who originally created this line)

It goes something like this (I'm sure you have heard it before): Be careful when casting out your demons, that you don't cast out the best part of you.
I realize that this reply comes months late, but I've only recently joined. The quote is from Nietzsche. I haven't seen one definitive wording - probably because it's translated from German - but basically it goes like....

Be careful of the devil you cast out. It might be the best part of you.

Careful when you cast your devil out of you lest you cast out the best thing in you.

Be careful lest, in casting out your devils, you cast out the best that is within you.
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Post by Scarlett » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Thanks,

I'm not as well read as some of the associates in these forums, but I come around anyway. Always up for learning.

Scarlett
For all men live by truth and stand in need of expression. In love, in art, in avarice, in politics, in labor, in games, we study to utter our painful secret. The man is only half himself, the other half is his expression. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Post by SkiaOura » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Seems that I joined too late to realize what a treasure this thread is.
But I wonder, how does one use creativity to explore the shadow?
How does one, through art, get access to this part of oneself that one is unaware of?

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: SkiaOura on 2004-03-13 11:41 ]</font>
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