Shadow Functions/Shadow Personality
I recently read the book, Understanding Masculine Psychology by Robert A. Johnson, and in the first chapter, he uses C.G. Jung’s shadow-function principle when describing the imbalance of masculinity and femininity in humans, how humans can journey toward individual completeness, and so on.
That section made me realize that I often focus on my strongest cognitive functions without attempting to develop my weakest functions. I also noticed that as many of us learn, mature and age, we begin to confront and develop our weaker cognitive functions, which in turn, generally helps us to approach life in healthier ways. I am not implying that these instances are true or false in all cases, for all people, but they seem to occur mutually for some people, which in turn, may lead to a clearer understanding of self.
Before I delve into generalities, I will post what Johnson wrote:
“A central idea in Jung’s psychology is his concept of individuation. Individuation is the lifelong process in which a person increasingly becomes the whole and complete person God intended him to be. It entails the gradual expansion of his or her consciousness and the increasing capacity of the conscious personality to reflect the total self. The ego may be understood as the center of the consciousness, the “I” within us, that part of ourselves with which we are consciously identified. The self is the name given to the total personality, the potential person who is within us from the beginning as seeks within our lifetime to be recognized and expressed through the ego.
The individuation process involves the individual in psychological and spiritual problems of great complexity. One difficult problem is always the matter of becoming reconciled with the shadow – the dark, unwanted, dangerous side of ourselves that conflicts with our conscious attitudes and ideals, but with which everyone must somehow come to terms if he or she is to become whole. Rejection of the shadow personality results in a division within the personality and the establishment of a state of hostility between consciousness and the unconscious. Acceptance and integration of the shadow personality are always difficult and painful but result in the establishment of a psychological balance and unity that otherwise would be quite impossible.”
“The psychology of individuation, however, shows that the goal of this process of becoming whole is not perfection, but completeness. The whole person is never blameless, guiltless, or pure but is one in whom all sides of himself have been combined inexplicably into a whole person. This paradoxical unity of the self, which is like a combination of opposites (life is never this or that, but both this and that), is a secret that cannot be rationally understood or comprehended.”