“No tree can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell”; the famous quote by the Swiss psychoanalyst and psychiatrist Carl Jung comes to my mind…
Source: Integrating the Jungian shadow
Here are two very worthy articles about the Jungian shadow (for the second piece, click on the image and follow the links).
For Carl Jung, the shadow is that aspect of ourselves we are not proud of but also something we must come to grips with. According to Jung, if we ignore the shadow it can literally leap out and produce destructive behavior.
Think of the “good Christian” nun, brother, or priest who harms little children. They have buried their sexual frustration and perversion so deep that these impulses emerge in unsavory ways—uncontrolled, neurotic, and sometimes psychotic.
According to Jungian theory, we must recognize and somehow give a socially acceptable voice to the shadow. The arts are great for that. Or perhaps just blogging. Whatever works, we should do.
But there’s a catch.
What if indulging in shadow content actually reinforces those unworthy impulses and helps to keep someone on a lower plane of existence?
Some violent individuals, for instance, feel propelled and encouraged by violent movies or music.
So it’s a bit of a simplification to say that giving a socially acceptable outlet to darkness or taboo impulses necessarily quells or controls them.
What is the best approach?
The answer probably depends on the individual and just why they feel the need to engage in shadow content.
Also, the scale of socially acceptable shadow dabbling should always reflect where a person is at. In other words, what was okay yesterday may not be okay today.
If we get stuck in a certain realm or rut of shadowy behavior, well we’re just stuck.
What do you think?