The Shadow and a Safer World

May 29, 2018

 

You might be familiar with June Singer's BOUNDARIES OF THE SOUL: THE PRACTICE OF JUNG'S PSYCHOLOGY. Singer's words about the part of personality that Jung called the "shadow," are particularly interesting to me, since so much of the cultural drama being played out in America today seems linked to aspects of our society's shadow, meaning cultural attitudes that are so deep, and usually negative, that most of us are unaware of them. They are repressed. Unfortunately we can quickly see repressed or negative qualities in the "other." That's human nature.

     Thus, the more repressed we remain, the more we are angered by, or impatient with, the "other—those Trump calls bad people, people from "s******* countries," the press, Mexican rapists etc. An additional problem with allowing ourselves as a society to be unaware of unconscious attitudes, values, and instincts is that they tend to pop out in surprising and destructive ways (divisiveness, cruelty, avarice are just a few examples). I mention this because awareness of shadow parts of self (or culture) can allow those negative aspects to be owned by the ego (e.g.This is who we are! We are champions of freedom but sometimes destabilize other countries). 

     The good news about such thoughtfulness (consciousness raising) is that it results in our being in relationship with our nation's negative tendencies, instead of being at their mercy. For example when our country's policies respond to an awareness that we have massive military muscle, then national policies tend to be grounded in—or tempered by— restraint. When we can acknowledge that some of our country's policies (pulling out of the Climate Accord, decades of a relentless war on drugs, decades of Cold War gamesmanship) contribute to the destabilization of countries (like Guatemala) then we might be more generous with asylum-seeking refugees from those countries now lost in chaos. The analyst Marie Louis von Franz said that the shadow is a low fellow, but he is also the source of our substance and mass. Can we become a better America by taking responsibility for our country's shadow?https://www.migrationpolicy.org/…/GuatemalaDrought-ECHO-HAv…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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