Page 273

will notice anyway,” or “After all, everybody else does it too.”

Insight into the Shadow If you feel an almost insuperable irritation arising in you when someone accuses you of certain failings, then you can assume with some certainty that that is exactly where your sore point lies. When others point out your shadow, you become understandably defiant, because “after all, they are no better than I am.” However, when your own dream, that is, your own inner judge, accuses you of something, what can you say? Then the ego is caught in the hunter’s net. The result is usually a sheepish silence. After that, an arduous process of self-education begins, which is described so aptly in the myth of Hercules. As we know, Hercules had to clean the Augean stables, in which hundreds of cows had left the dung of decades, in a single day. A paralyzing laziness overcomes the ordinary person at the mere thought of such a possibility! But the shadow does not consist only of what one has failed to do. It manifests just as often in rash and impulsive actions. Before one has had a chance to think, the nasty word has already been spoken, the intrigue is already under way, the wrong decision has already been made. On top of this, the shadow is especially vulnerable to all manner of collective infections.12 By oneself one can manage more or less all right, but when “the others” do dark and primitive things, then one is afraid of being seen as failing to do one’s bit or of being seen as a fool if one did not go along. In this way one falls prey to sudden impulses that really are not part of oneself. It is primarily in dealing with people of the same sex that one stumbles over one’s own shadow and that of others, whereas with the opposite sex one sees the same things but for the most part feels a certain tolerance. In dreams and myths the shadow therefore appears as a figure of the same sex. The following dream can serve as an example. It was dreamed by a forty-eight-year-old man, who was very withdrawn and was trying to live by himself. He was all too earnest and disciplined about his work, but on the other hand, as far as his own basic character was concerned, he suppressed his joie de vivre and spontaneity much too heavily. I owned and lived in a very large house in the city, so big that I was not yet familiar with every part of it. For this reason, I used to wander through it, and I discovered, especially in the cellar, a number of rooms that I was

Profile for Lewis Lafontaine

Marie - Louise Von Franz - Archetypal Dimensions of the Psyche -  

Marie - Louise Von Franz - Archetypal Dimensions of the Psyche -