Owning Your Own Shadow: Understanding the Dark Side of the Psyche

By Robert A Johnson


Robert A. Johnson explores our need to “own” our own shadow-the term Jung used to describe the dark, hidden aspect of the ego or persona.

The popular Jungian author guides us through an exploration of the shadow: what it is, how it originates, how it is formed through the process of acculturation, and the havoc that it can wreak if not absorbed.

“Some of the pure gold of our personality is relegated to the shadow because it can find no place in that great levelling process that is culture,” writes Johnson. Curiously, people resist the noble aspects of their shadow more strenuously than they hide the dark sides.”

Johnson sees the “owning of one’s shadow” as a religious process, a means by which wholeness is restored to the personality. Noting that the original meaning of the word religion is to re-relate-to put back together again, to heal the wounds of separation— he emphasises the absolute necessity of putting our fractured world back together again. This is accomplished by first coming to terms with the shadow, incorporating it, and finally balancing it within the conscious self.

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