Created August 2012
The Shadow, illustration for a Hans Christian Anderson fairytale Skyggen (1847)
Peter Schlemihl is the title character of an 1814 novel, Peter Schlemihls wundersame Geschichte (Peter Schlemihl’s Miraculous Story), written in German by exiled French aristocrat Adelbert von Chamisso. (Wikipedia article)
My view: The problem with “shadows” is that people are unaware of their hidden weaknesses, making it difficult to identify and overcome personal weaknesses. Various personality tests might reveal tendencies that have not yet become dominant enough to be pathological, but we don’t know how accurate these tests are and psychologists say that they cannot diagnose clients in 15 minutes with a test and that it requires an extensive period of observation. There are many do-it-yourself on-line personality tests , of course, but we don’t really know how reliable the results are, however interesting. As for excesses of religion or politics, we know what they are from experience and historical data. So, people who are highly religious or politically active can be on the lookout for such tendencies developing within them. Anyway, they say that religion and politics are both can of worms so I imagine that’s where the shadows show up most. There are many on-line political quizz es as well ( link 2 / link 3 ).
Jacob Wrestling with the Angel
The Identity of Jacob’s Opponent- Wrestling with Ambiguity in Genesis by Steven Molen: “As a confusion of the divine and the human, Jacob’s opponent would naturally confuse our attempts to label him.”
Human Encounters in the Movies articles by Roland Atkinson on may interesting personality issues depicted in films
“Well anything that’s interesting in a film, or in a character (all your passion, your sex, your anger, your rage, all that) comes from that part of you that you want to hide and push away, and you want to deny all those things most. So if you can sort of visualize a version of your shadow. And if you sort of invite him or her to the party. And if you can really understand that this is where you’re going to let that shadow come out (this is where it’s home) It’s really just understanding that its your job to get vulnerable. And most people who have the exact opposite; most people go through life and they try all their time not to feel all those dark things. We have to go feel them, but it’s an opportunity too. I think to think of it that way, that just gets you into flow and that unclocks your subconscious, so you get out of your head and into your heart. That’s what I do, I just try to remember that the part of you that’s going to do a good job is the part of you you want to most deny.” ― John Cusack Quotes About Shadow
In my view, prejudices come from ignorance, because you don’t know better when your experiences are limited. Sometimes you decide you don’t care for a cuisine because you haven’t been exposed to the best that there is from this cuisine and have an underdeveloped palate that cannot appreciate the subtlety in flavors. Xenophobia comes from irrational fear of the Other based on ignorance, misunderstanding and also bad experiences that are generalized to the entire population. Alice in Wonderland is critical of some characters in Wonderland but she’s not xenophobic, being open to new experiences, although prejudiced against the peculiar practices she observes because she comes from good society where she has already acquired a certain standard of behavior. She scolds the Mad Hatter for being rude instead of letting him intimidate her. She’s not a snob, however, since she’s still a child who is busy exploring her environment and not completely set in her ways. She realizes she can grow or shrink at will by eating something and realizes that sometimes it’s in her advantage to grow when petty grownups look down on her as if she were an inferior to be seen but not heard. So, does Alice have a shadow? Is she afraid of turning into a tyrant like the Queen or into someone like the Rabbit who is so self-absorbed that he mistakes Alice for his servant? Since the story is told from her perspective, we might conclude that all the characters are aspects of her shadow in her dream. Perhaps Alice as a three-year-old was just as tyrannical, self-absorbed and inconsiderate, treating servants as if they were merely means to an end but all these traits have been more or less beaten into submission through inculcation of good manners.
Some insights into the Jungian perspective- Essential Secrets of Psychotherapy: What is the Shadow? “The shadow must never be dismissed as merely evil or demonic, for it contains natural, life-giving, underdeveloped positive potentialities too. Coming to terms with the shadow and constructively accepting and assimilating it into the conscious personality is central to the process of Jungian analysis.” Published on April 20, 2012 by Stephen A. Diamond, Ph.D.Read less