In Jung's depth psychology, the shadow looms large. It also plays a very significant "behind the scenes" role in psychological types--Jung's psychology of consciousness. While the shadow encompasses far more than merely a type orientation, the inferior function (or type) seems imbedded in the shadow, so much so that we could call the inferior a "shadow type." Hidden away, suppressed from consciousness, the shadow type exerts significant influence on the stage of consciousness. It becomes as, Angelo Spoto notes in his book, Jung's Typology in Perspective, a moral issue.
The Shadow Type as a Moral Issue
The inferior function, Spoto poetically writes, ". . . heats things up and agitates. It evokes from us a shudder, a sigh, and a gasp. The inferior function is our troublemaker. It confutes, refutes, and complicates. It flips things around and inside-out. It challenges whatever we have accomplished, mocks our savvy, takes our daily bread. It stops us in our tracks."
The inferior function, or as we might more specifically call it, the "shadow type" for its close alliance with the shadow, is problematic to the degree we seek to pretentiously repress it.
The more it is suppressed, the more it is projected as a demeaning characterization of others. The "troublemaker" within is projected onto the "troublemakers" without--people who are sullied by the mud of our own unconscious shadows.
The "others," in extreme cases can become demonic and less than human. The course of human history is checkered with the heinous afflictions of shadow projections--the Nazi's "final solution" for the Jews, the annihilation of the native American "savages," or the Church's persecution of heretics could each exemplify the afflictions of shadow projections.
The humbling work of becoming whole is to bring the shadow type to greater consciousness, to acknowledge, own and develop it, for the shadow type brings with it the living treasures from the unconscious that engender a rich and rewarding life.
No one benefits when the shadow type is negatively projected onto others. To adapt an ancient Confucian theme: before projecting a shadow onto others, dig two graves.
James Graham Johnston
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