A Precarious Journey through the Dark Side of My Mind
The dark side or shadow is depicted in this journey through the subconscious metaphorically. Dream work offers new liberating insight while simultaneously exposing trauma and rage.
The Dream: Dark Side of my Mind
I am in a semi-dark subterranean world – there is no sun. The surface is mostly volcanic sand – a blackish gray composition. There are small shrubs, cactus and rocks making the terrain difficult to pass through. There is a huge clear glass ball that I am pushing with the help of someone else, but I cannot see the helper. The glass ball facilitates our movement through the debris strewn desolation. When we push it, it crushes everything in our path making it easier to navigate. Without the glass, ball progress would be at a snail’s pace.
However, there is a trade-off for using the glass ball. The glass ball offers no protection from the predators that can sense our presence through the motion of the ball moving. Since the ball is highly visible – we are much more likely to be detected when using it. I never see a predator, but I know that they were large winged creatures that could swoop down and carry their prey away. Therefore, I had to be vigilant, and was scanning the horizon through the glass ball – through the distortion. I had to be ready to back away from the ball quickly and hide should a predator appear.
It seemed that I was about 2 inches high and the ball about 8 inches high.
Psychoanalytic Dream Interpretation – Dark Side of My Mind
The subterranean setting is obviously the unconscious mind which can be a dark and dangerous place to wander through. The glass ball is a metaphor for dream work because dreams, when analyzed, give me a clearer view (glass) of what is actually going on in my mind – which makes it easier to pass through the wreckage or debris strewn past. However, the view through the ‘glass ball’ is subject to distortion. When the ‘objective’ dream information is viewed by the ‘subjective’ conscious during interpretation, it is subject to the ego’s will. Therefore, valid observations can be repressed and the dreamer can cling to obvious character flaws – thwarting the unconscious’s attempt to adjust the dreamer’s better path in life. This is a good reason to have a therapist or others involved when interpreting dreams, keeping the objectivity of the dream or unconscious thoughts objective.
Dreams often give the dreamer a more objective view of the ‘self” than experienced during conscious reflection. The waking ego normally offers a more subjective view of the self often clouded by denial or self-inflation. Dreams tend to offer a more objective view of the self, often offered by other characters in the dream.
The figure that I cannot see, might represent the waking ‘ego’. In the dream, I would be the ‘dream ego’, the main character in most dreams. In this dream, it appears that the conscious or waking ego is assisting the ‘dream ego’ in navigating through this dark world or unconscious elements that impede my progress in life. Progress is life is easier if you can get the conscious and unconscious minds working together which is one of the basic purposes of dream work.
However, there is a downside, the same insight the ball provides to assist me in my journey of ‘individuation’ also, awakens the darker elements. My character flaws, weaknesses – the parts I wish would go away or not exist are stirred up. I can easily get put in touch or reconnect with the rage and anger from the past, as I crush my way through the debris. The injustices and shame I experienced in the past when remembered, can trigger the anger and rage that was buried long ago. I can get swept away by these negative emotions and become the prey of my own predatory self-persecutor.
So, although dream work can be effective, it is a dual edged sword. If the sword is too sharp, it might be wise to seek a professional therapist.
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In Jungian psychology, “shadow” or “shadow aspect” (or dark side) may refer to (1) an unconscious aspect of the personality which the conscious ego does not identify in itself. Because one tends to reject or remain ignorant of the least desirable aspects of one’s personality, the shadow is largely negative, or (2) the entirety of the unconscious, i.e., everything of which a person is not fully conscious. There are, however, positive aspects which may also remain hidden in one’s shadow (especially in people with low self-esteem). Contrary to a Freudian definition of shadow, therefore, the Jungian shadow (dark side) can include everything outside the light of consciousness, and may be positive or negative. “Everyone carries a shadow,” Jung wrote, “and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.” It may be (in part) one’s link to more primitive animal instincts, which are superseded during early childhood by the conscious mind.
Carl Jung stated the shadow to be the unknown dark side of the personality. According to Jung, the shadow, in being instinctive and irrational, is prone to psychological projection, in which a perceived personal inferiority is recognised as a perceived moral deficiency in someone else. Jung writes that if these projections remain hidden, “The projection-making factor (the Shadow archetype) then has a free hand and can realize its object–if it has one–or bring about some other situation characteristic of its power.” These projections insulate and harm individuals by acting as a constantly thickening veil of illusion between the ego and the real world.
From one perspective, ‘the shadow (or dark side)….is roughly equivalent to the whole of the Freudian unconscious’; and Jung himself asserted that ‘the result of the Freudian method of elucidation is a minute elaboration of man’s shadow-side unexampled in any previous age’.
Jung also believed that “in spite of its function as a reservoir for human darkness—or perhaps because of this—the shadow is the seat of creativity“; so that for some, it may be, ‘the dark side of his being, his sinister shadow…represents the true spirit of life as against the arid scholar.’
- Young-Eisendrath, P. and Dawson, T. (1997). The Cambridge Companion to Jung., Cambridge University Press, p. 319
- Jung, C.G. (1938). “Psychology and Religion.” In CW 11: Psychology and Religion: West and East. p. 131
- Jung, C.G. (1952). “Answer to Job.” In CW 11: Psychology and Religion: West and East. p.1 2
- S. A. Diamond – article published April 20, 2012 by Psychology Today [Retrieved 2015-11-01]
- Dr G. Wyn Roberts, Dr A. Machon – Appreciative Healthcare Practice: A guide to compassionate, person-centred care (c.f. p. 71) published by M&K Update Ltd, 8 Jul 2015 ISBN 1907830936 [Retrieved 2015-11-01]
- Jung, C.G. (1951). “Phenomenology of the Self” In The Portable Jung. p. 147
- Anthony Stevens, On Jung (London 1990) p. 43
- C. G. Jung, The Practice of Psychotherapy (London 1993) p. 63
- Kaufman, C. Three-Dimensional Villains: Finding Your Character’s Shadow 
- C. G. Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections (London 1983) p. 262