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Observations placeholder

Jung, C G - The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious - The Shadow



Type of Spiritual Experience


The shadow that Jung talks about here is the unknown parts of the Conscious mind – parts of memory that have lain dormant in us.  But in the second quote he refers to the ‘unconscious’ as though he was meaning the Subconscious, so this is an interesting quote but a bit confusing in its terminology

A description of the experience

The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious – C G Jung

Another, no less important and clearly defined figure is the "shadow." Like the anima, it appears either in projection on suitable persons, or personified as such in dreams. The shadow coincides with the "personal" unconscious (which corresponds to Freud's conception of the unconscious). Again like the anima, this figure has often been portrayed by poets and writers.  I would mention the Faust-Mephistopheles relationship and E. T. A. Hoftmann's tale The Devil's Elixir as two especially typical descriptions. The shadow personifies everything that the subject refuses to acknowledge about himself and yet is always thrusting itself upon him directly or indirectly – for instance inferior traits of character and other incompatible tendencies.

Our European ego-consciousness is therefore inclined to swallow up the unconscious, and if this should not prove feasible we try to suppress it. But if we understand anything of the unconscious, we know that it cannot be swallowed. We also know that it is dangerous to suppress it, because the unconscious is life and this life turns against us if suppressed, as happens in neurosis.  Conscious and unconscious do not make a whole when one of them is suppressed and injured by the other. If they must contend, let it at least be a fair fight with equal rights on both sides. Both are aspects of life. Consciousness should defend its reason and protect itself, and the chaotic life of the unconscious should be given the chance of having its way too - as much of it as we can stand. This means open conflict and open collaboration at once. That,  evidently, is the way human life should be.  It is the old game of hammer and anvil: between them the patient iron is forged into an indestructible whole, an "individual."

The source of the experience

Jung, Carl Gustav

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Know yourself
Suppressing memory