Last time, I began to explore the concept of the shadow in Jungian psychology. I introduced the concept of the personal shadow which is, in effect, the unacknowledged aspect of a person – often negative but also positive. This was a brief introduction to the concept and there is much more that can be explored by engaging with Jung’s writings as well as the many Jungians who have written on the subject.
I will turn now to the concept of the collective shadow to again give you just an introduction to the concept and perhaps whet your appetite for a deeper dive. A deep dive is apropos of the subject as we are entering the concept of the Collective Unconscious developed by Jung. The Collective Unconscious is the part of the psyche (the whole person) which is universal and common to all people. It is comprised of archetypes which are intrinsic, universal symbols or images that influence and direct human behaviour and relationships with others.
The shadow archetype, in effect, manifests itself in the othering by groups of people directed to groups and individuals who carry the unacknowledged aspect of the originating group. An example of this is the persecution of Jews throughout history and particularly by Hitler and Nazi Germany. Looking at the current situation we see the hatred and anger which is aroused in some groups by tyrants and tin-pot dictators as seen, for example, in the January 6th attack by supporters of Donald Trump on the U.S. Capitol. It is also telling to note that the Russian president, Putin, justified his invasion of Ukraine by claiming it was to eliminate the Nazi elements of Ukrainian society.
From this, I hope you have a small taste of what the shadow does in the world and in our individual lives. Dealing with the personal and collective aspect of the shadow is a challenge on a personal basis and daunting on the collective manifestations. What we can do is to start or continue to be aware of our personal shadows and how they impact our relations with others. I invite you to look for those dark figures in your dreams that are active outrageously and also to recognize in your conscious lives where your reaction to people and events are out of proportion to the situation. In all this, remember that the shadow is part of you and to deny it is to make it stronger.
May you be blessed to recognize and acknowledge your shadow on your journey.