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What is the Shadow Jungian Archetype?

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What is the Shadow Jungian Archetype?

Uncontrolled bursts of anger, sexual addiction, strange phobias, unexpected deep depressions, unshakeable self-loathing, and self-destructive tendencies are all signs of the shadow archetype – and we all have one.

The shadow archetype, also known as the shadow self or dark side of humanity, can be seen throughout myth and legend since the dawn of humanity.

If you’d like to discover your shadow archetype, some examples, and how it influences your life, you’ll find that and more right here!

What is the Shadow Jungian Archetype?

Image of a person wearing a scary mask at night symbolic of the shadow self archetype

How can anyone see straight when he does not even see himself and the darkness he unconsciously carries with him into all his dealings?

– C. G. Jung, The Essential Jung

We can thank Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung for his idea of psychological archetypes, which are patterns that appear repeatedly within human consciousness. 

Among the many archetypes within our species is one that Jung named the Shadow, which is the dark, suppressed, and hidden side of our nature.

How Does Your Shadow Form (and Signs It’s Active)?

Image of a shadow figure alone in a barren landscape

For one reason or another, we all have abandoned parts within ourselves that we reject either consciously or unconsciously.

These rejected parts are often deemed “ugly,” “bad,” “unworthy,” “outrageous,” “unlovable,” or even “dangerous,” and so they’re cast out from our conscious-facing personalities (also called our “persona”).

But these outlawed fragments of ourselves don’t just disappear into thin air. Instead, they get buried, locked away, and, in some cases, actively blocked off within our deep unconscious minds.

The longer these shadow parts are cut off from the light of consciousness, the more they fester and build up like a seething volcano waiting to explode.

Incidents of intense rage, emotional meltdowns, mental health crises, addictions, dark nights of the soul, and many other issues are signs that the shadow is trying to get our attention.

Why Should You Face Your Shadows?

Image of a woman looking into a mirror holding a candle at night symbolic of practicing shadow work

To be liberated from the self-destructive force of our shadows, we must turn toward them.

We must integrate the shadow archetype into our lives by befriending it and finding the hidden gifts that it carries. In the words of Jung,

Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.

(Psychology and Religion

Spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle writes about the shadow archetype, referring to it as the “pain-body.” He writes:

The pain-body, which is the dark shadow cast by the ego, is actually afraid of the light of your consciousness. It is afraid of being found out. Its survival depends on your unconscious identification with it, as well as on your unconscious fear of facing the pain that lives in you. But if you don’t face it, if you don’t bring the light of your consciousness into the pain, you will be forced to relive it again and again.

(The Power of Now)

Shadow Archetype Examples

Image of some Japanese masks symbolic of the different shadow archetypes

Here’s a list of shadow archetype examples.

Keep in mind that most of us possess more than one shadow archetype, and they can change during the course of our lives.

Also, note that none of these shadow archetypes is totally black or white – remember that each type has a hidden gift or strength:

  • Addict
  • Glutton
  • Workaholic
  • Beggar
  • Bully
  • Coward
  • Wounded/Orphan Child
  • Destroyer
  • Seducer/Black Widow/Don Juan
  • Gambler
  • Gossip
  • Perfectionist
  • Critic
  • Miser
  • Anarchist
  • Saboteur
  • Trickster
  • Slave
  • Sorcerer/Sorceress
  • Thief/Con Artist
  • Tyrant
  • Vampire
  • Victim

A few shadow archetype examples in pop-culture and fiction include Green Goblin (Spider-Man), Alex (A Clockwork Orange), Moriarty (Sherlock Holmes), Gollum (The Lord of the Rings), Bellatrix Lestrange and Lord Voldemort (Harry Potter), Norman Bates (Psycho), Darth Vader (Star Wars), The Joker (Batman), Regina George (Mean Girls), Ursula (The Little Mermaid), Agent Smith (The Matrix), Duck Phillips (Mad Men), Hannibal Lecter (Hannibal), Montgomery Burns (The Simpsons), Joffrey Baratheon (Game of Thrones), Nurse Ratched (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest).

What is Your Shadow Archetype?

Image of creepy faces symbolic of the different shadow archetypes

There are seven main shadow archetypes in this test, which correspond to the seven chakras. The result you get can help you find some focus and clarity on your healing journey.

What is your shadow archetype? Share below in the comments!

About Aletheia

Aletheia is a prolific psychospiritual writer, author, educator, and intuitive guide whose work has touched the lives of millions worldwide. As a survivor of fundamentalist religious abuse, her mission is to help others find love, strength, and inner light in even the darkest places. She is the author of hundreds of popular articles, as well as numerous books and journals on the topics of Self-Love, Spiritual Awakening, and more. [Read More]

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