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“Unfortunately there can be no doubt that man is, on the whole, less good than he imagines himself or wants to be. Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.”  Carl Jung

Jung felt that most people are too frightened to entertain the darker thoughts that lurk underneath the surface of the sub-conscious mind.  His long-time associate, Sigmund Freud, even went to far as to say in his work, “Civilization and its Discontents” that without guilt for primal urges, in his term the “id” which corresponds well with Jung’s shadow, then civilization itself would crumble and we might well find ourselves in some sort of Hobbesian nightmare of people acting on their sexual and/or violent impulses.

However close Jung and Freud might have originally been, the idea of the darker self was one in which they disagreed on. Freud almost in a religious manner, although he claimed no belief in God, presents the id forces in the same context as a source of evil temptation that a psychologically healthy person must repress. Jung, on the other hand, gives us an essentially non-judgmental view of the shadow (read: id). It is a force of creativity and strength that once recognized can be a source of boundless energy if, as the water of a raging river, it is directed properly to bring forth life in a dry desert in a metaphorical sense.

The problem is that no matter what sort of society one lives in, religious or not, there is a notion that inner drives, fantasy and breaking from the established norms, is a sin to even contemplate. And make no mistake about it secular societies can foster guilt as strong, if not stronger, than religiously conservative societies. One need only examine a nation such as Sweden to see that guilt is an incredibly strong force of constraint on the human psyche.

So should people give in and act out on all their shadowy urges? No, and Jung never proposed that. However, acknowledgement of, and understanding towards, such drives can give one the ability to master them.  Perhaps an appropriate analogy would be that if you attempt to chain your sub-conscious you yourself will become the unwilling slave to these impulses.  However, to recognize the shadow can allow the individual to put a leash on the drives and use them to develop creative impulses, strive for goals in physical fitness and attain ambitions in all areas of life.

Discussion of this topic: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODMP_DUeAjA

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