On Jung’s “The Shadow”
Lots of us work hard to avoid having to stop and look too closely at what one of the fathers of modern psychology, Carl Jung, called our “shadow side.” This shadow side includes both repressed and ignored parts of our “self.” Even in modern psychology, if people use the term “shadow side” it is usually negative – but Jung’s work actually teaches us that when we turn towards the shadow side instead of running, we discover it’s not good or bad, it’s just an unfamiliar part of us.
For many of us, our shadow side may contain unique gifts and strengths that we never knew we had. Sometimes what our “shadow side” contains is simply parts of ourselves that weren’t valued in our families, schools, or social circles when we were growing up.
The Jung-based doodles in this post were inspired by the podcast “Speaking of Jung” by Laura London.
On The Puella (Child-Archetype)
In Speaking of Jung episode #40, Laura London and Susan Schwartz talk about Jung’s idea of the Puella archetype and how American culture fosters an interrupted development process in women. Human development continues through the lifespan – but a culture that values only child-like traits in women can prevent maturation into the wisdom and intuition that mid-life can offer.
American ideals reward the Puella through an emphasis on outer appearance. However, this devaluation of looking inward (by emphasizing the outward: the drive to stay young, thin, and pretty) means there is less opportunity to mature into mid-life, which is a season of looking inward.
In the 1800’s, the field of psychology was hyper interested in: dreams.
Now, the “cutting edge” 2020 field of psychology’s focus is: body.
Combine them and what do you get?
This template for interpreting dreams through the lens of embodiment. According to this model: Pay attention to clothes, age, and energy level in dreams. Be curious about how those things might reflect truths about your body OR your emotional experience in the present.
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Analysis doesn’t require us to cognitively understand the theory or terms – it is a felt experience.
Analysis is a whole body experience. It shapes us mind, body, and soul.
Therapy that only engages the intellect (cognitive) can’t transform.
The BODY in dreams:
Many Jungian clinicians are only using Jungian terms, and not actually practicing out of Jungian theory.
Jungian Therapy trains a person to listen to an internal self, not external messages.
Includes both the repressed and the ignored – it has a reputation for being synonymous with a “dark side” but the shadow side can be good! It includes our hidden strengths and undeveloped gifts.
The puella archetype is the feminine form of the Puer. The puella describes a woman who is often, in her inner life, insecure, depressed, dis-embodied, desire-avoidant (i.e. food. sex. etc), dreamer, and young-seeming. While externally presenting as put together, highly unique/expressive, and stylish.
Archetypes aren’t personality types. Archetypes describe a LEARNED general way of being in the world – often ways we learned to be present in the world in order to survive.
American ideals reward the puella, via an emphasis on outer experience.
However – the devaluation of looking inward and examining self means that there’s less opportunity for a woman to develop into mid-life (which, according to Jung, starts in late 30’s or early 40’s).
Midlife is not meant to bring crisis, but wisdom. Mid-life is a season of looking inwards, and a preoccupation with looking young, pretty, and thin can block a woman’s ability to grow into the feminine wisdom of mid-life.