The Shadow, probably one of the most important aspects of the human psychology due to its ramifications if not properly dealt with. You could very well say that the most atrocious acts in human history relate to the shadow, where the projection of the shadow onto others has caused extreme amounts of harm and suffering. But what is this Jungian concept exactly?
The shadow is basically the aspects of ones own nature that are not accepted consciously, they may be deemed bad, vulgar, immoral or unacceptable, what happens is that these attributes get pushed into the unconscious realm of the shadow which are then to be veiled and hidden away from consciousness.
It is not always socially unacceptable behaviour that gets pushed into the shadow but attributes like aggression can also be placed within the unconscious because, for example: you may of had a bad relationship with your family, a father may have been verbally and/or physically abusive which would cause you to repress aggression into the unconscious realm which would then limit your confidence later on.
A very understandable example of shadow projection is by viewing the activity of a school bully, so to continue on with the past example lets say the school kid goes to school, in his class he notices a confident bright kid who is speaking his own thoughts and words and the teacher is praising him for his contributions, during lunch time the bully starts picking on this kid, why? because the bully is projecting one of his shadow attributes onto him which have not been dealt with properly, or more specifically are one of his own emotional vulnerabilities that have not been developed or well integrated, this is when the shadow can manifest and overcome all things within the self (by becoming an overriding complex) which is a very very dangerous reality, for example: the Nazi’s, whereby shadow projection was aimed at the Jews and an idolised state was presented in the figure of Hitler or at the time: German nationalism, anything that opposed German nationalism would have been seen as representing attributes of the shadow, thus, to project it we don’t need to take responsibility for it or even more, to not even acknowledge it as being part of our own psyche, thus, you may see that shadow projection is usually done by people with a high amount of vanity (or vice versa) in the sense that they are naïve of their own human darkness, therefore, it is seen as non existent but is projected onto whatever they see as evil, greedy, lustful and destructive.
During the prosecution of the Nazi’s it was common to notice that they were “only following orders” and not taking responsibility as if it was their shadow which overtook their entire being, whereby the unconscious became conscious and evil reigned, where absurd Nazi regime nationalism supressed all possible known human deficiencies into the shadow which then were expressed in a disastrous scapegoat fashion were the shadow took over through projection.
The most famous story around the shadow would be the Cain and Abel story, it’s the idea that because someone is better then you you desire to get rid of them but really it is about accepting the fact that you are just not good enough and that you need to improve the area in which you are envious of that is represented in the other person which you are projecting onto. The interesting thing is that Cain who kills Abel thinks he is sorting the problem out, that in a sense he is confronting the shadow and fixing it but really it is the complete opposite and he has become engulfed within the shadow itself, the core message of that story is that we all are (metaphorical if you like) descendants of Cain which means that we all have the capacity for evil, this is why Solzhenitsyn said, I quote:
“the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either – but right through every human heart”
And also why Jung wrote:
“no tree, it is said, can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell”
A modern example I guess of the shadow negatively taking over consciousness or the self and being relatively relatable to the Cain and Abel story would be that of school shooters, horrible but that is also very comparative.
Carl Jung wrote the following:
“By not being aware of having a shadow, you declare a part of your personality to be non-existent. Then it enters the kingdom of the non-existent, which swells up and takes on enormous proportions…If you get rid of qualities you don’t like by denying them, you become more and more unaware of what you are, you declare yourself more and more non-existent, and your devils will grow fatter and fatter.”
So, how can the shadow and shadow projection relate to the media or TV, now being less serious then my previous examples, this is just a little idea that I thought of in relation to many trash TV shows and to me it seems really noticeable with certain shows depending on the people who are watching, after thinking about it a bit it seems to me that to a degree we ENJOY shadow projection through media or TV because in a sense we are mentally dumping our perceived personal inferiorities which we like to ignore by recognizing it as a moral deficiency in someone else, and thus, we get entertainment.
A TV show that uses this as blueprint is I think the Jerry Springer show as most Americans would know, why? Because that show is based on the process of ridicule, blame and scapegoating, whereby the people who enter stage are relatable to the viewers to some extent but are primarily used as scapegoats to absorb our collective shadow which exists within the social morality, to represent the negative traits of ourselves which we don’t want to make conscious of or deal with, the only way we do deal with it is by using character scapegoats which then removes personal responsibility which we then find comfort in its entertainment value, and that is why I think that show in America was so popular, it acted as a relief of our own problems which we don’t integrate but only project, if this idea adds up I think you can also relate it to other TV shows that are very similar like Big Brother or even the Jeremy Kyle Show which is pretty much the same as the Jerry Springer Show. These I think were designed in a way which rely on you to blanket personal inferiorities and cover them with a layer of entertainment by using a scapegoat which you can point at, laugh at and condemn.
This is also rampant in the media in general, for example: social media actually fuels from this kind of interaction, the more time they have people on social media the more money they make and what is the best way to keep people on social media? Well, it would be to incorporate emotional stimulation which diverges in many different directions but also emotions which are most paleolithically instinctive or even least socially acceptable or downtrodden emotions which have gained place in the shadow which will allow for a repressed uprising, for example: aggression and fear. As you can tell, it is no surprise that aggression on social media fuels the political campaign machine online as depending on whatever political group you identify with as a storm of shadow projection is mounted onto the opposing side whether it be the people who support that position or be the runner themselves, therefore, loads of hate emerges and this is what keeps people online in that sense, overall, shadow projection divides people massively throughout the world, It is as though we use the outer world as a canvas on which to project inner emotions we would usually suppress, BUT, if people acknowledged their own shadow and did shadow work we would probably not even have half the amount of conflict we have today because what people would do is analyse themselves or journal their reactions to try and figure out what the main problem is that is causing someone to project their shadow, that is the most basic lesson from Jungian psychology which is to perform introspection to try and find out the reasons why you are projecting in the first place to become more individuated.
Projection isn’t just shadow related it also relates to the anima and you see this form of projection in relation to men who are addicted to something like porn, they will project their anima (which is their male conception of the feminine) towards pornography and what that will do is break down their anima and really ruin a man’s relation to the feminine because what they will become is a slave to their emotions // instintual drives and that in a metaphorical sense IS the antichrist because the archetypal logos or masculine which is the rational, the logical, dominate and objected orientated will become overrun by this very pathetic conception of the anima and then drain the mans life force, this will all be in a sense unconscious because it won’t be the man choosing to watch porn but it will be his poorly constructed Anima and rampant unconscious emotions that will be making the demands, that I think is another example of projection which can be really disastrous.
It’s interesting to think of technology with a Jungian lens because the main negative with technology is how addictive it is and I find this relationship or form of addiction or “love” very comparative to the Greek god Eros, this god would bring about confusion and irrepressible feelings, or in the words of Hesiod: he ‘loosens the limbs and weakens the mind’ and I find it very peculiar that most AI goes by a feminine name like Cortana or Alexia and that they all have this female voice, its like the internet is this very negative, soul sucking feminine construction due to the way people become addicted to it and how it seduces the victim through comfort and dopamine release which keeps them coming back which is very similar to the devouring mother archetype, even the term: “world wide web” brings about images in ones mind of how this system is no different from a spiders web it catches you and the spider comes along and feeds on you just like how the internet sucks away your life force bit by bit, therefore, one is not individually in control and the power of the logos becomes suppressed, there is a lack of an even balance, and its interesting to see how Jung used the dichotomy of the Logos and the Eros because he viewed it as being analogous to the eastern concepts of the Ying and Yang.