Carl Jung Resources > Archetypes


ShadowThe shadow is simply the dark side of someone's personality. And what is dark is always known only indirectly through projection.  That is, one discovers his dark side as something belonging to others: friends, relatives, fictitious characters, etc. This is why the meeting with the personal shadow is considered to be a moral effort. The difficulty of integrate the shadow is huge, if we have to face alone this powerful figure.

The dark side/shadow feature may be also equaled with the Freudian personal unconscious . It comprises everything one repressed because is rejected by the superego. Freud linked these repressed contents mainly with the sexual drives. Indeed, the shadow has almost always a sexual component.

In dreams, the shadow appears endowed with those sexual and aggressive aspects that arouse our criticism or envy. An unscrupulous man, an alcoholic and debauched man, a humble and obedient official, etc. they can be shadow figures. Also, a warrior, fearless guy, a hero, etc.

The black shadow may appear as an archetype too. The devil's images and the demonic features (symbols) are very common to men's dreams. Also the devil-like characters - who compensate the luminous figure of the Saviors - share the shadow realm.

The shadow appears at the beginning of the Jungian analysis and for a long time during the analytical effort.

Jung about the Shadow

The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge, and it therefore,. as a rule, meets with considerable resistance. Indeed, self-knowledge as a psychotherapeutic measure frequently requires much painstaking work extending over a long period. (From Aion: Phenomenology of the Self published in The Portable Jung, edited by Joseph Campbell, Penguin Books, 1976, p. 145.)

Further resources:

  • More about the shadow concept may be found in Carl Jung's book The Relation between the Ego and the Unconscious, published in Volume 7 of the Collected Works. You can order this book from
  • Our paper entitled The Meaning of a Dream with Shadow, illustrates the occurrence and function of shadow in our dreams. This paper is included in our Jung and Dreams email course. Learn more...


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