“The shadow personifies everything that the subject refuses to acknowledge about himself”.Jung, C. G.
I sat up in shock after the Class of 2020 received their National Senior Certificate results which is their final exit examination from High School because it was an unexpected result. The pass rate of the school was 88.3% when in the main our school obtained a 100% pass rate. It got me worried and it drew me to introspect and think deeply on where the shortcomings were. Perhaps, I thought the fault lay within a realm I never explored. The realm of the shadow.
Shadow psychology is a study so deep that for some reason or the other, makes me scared because, I feel it will reveal something about me I don’t want to know. Nevertheless, this article came to light because in the pursuit of searching for answers, I went into my own school history. In the archives of my school reports from Grade 1 to Grade 12, I came across an article I wrote in 1993. It made for such intense reading and felt it speaking to me screaming for publication. The calling of my self was, “Yes, this must be published because it is the opening to understand the shadow.” Scary but exciting. This is what I needed and when I began to read the article over and over again I realised that, we don’t pay attention to the self calling for attention. Perhaps this introduction will lead to a sequel on the topic. I don’t know yet but, I am intrigued by Carl Jung’s work because it gives leverage to analysing the human being in the most basic of forms. What I did not realise is that I was, unconsciously delving into Jung through other readings that had no formal connection to his work.
My work as a teacher is and will always be to make life an open book for children to learn, to grow, to love and to seek. Therefore, I cannot teach them in neat compartments of Maths and Science but, to teach them as dynamic as the universe and as interconnected as the human body which operates as a unified whole. To do this, they must be taught how to associate things, make connections whether subtle or overt, read with comprehension, to explore the unknown and to know who themselves in context. Difficult yet achievable but, exciting. In the shadows of my years of study looked beyond the exciting cover of a book and wrote. What I wrote back then took me out of the shadows of today’s darkness.
To start the trip into the shadows of the self, I will give you what I wrote in 1993. I have taken the liberty to edit and refine the entire article. At the end I have scanned picture of the first page of the three page and a little more of the handwritten article.
Stephen King. THE DARK HALF. 1993 @ 23H45 day and date not documented.
When reading gives you the edge into deep thinking it is a marvel to feel your mind open to new ideas.
Using the title, ” The Dark Half”, of Stephen King’s novel, the basis of this introspective pensive indulgence begins…
Although, the novel itself, The Dark Half, which I have not finished reading yet, is very much reminiscent of human nature. Reminiscent in the fact that human personality is a composite of various attitudes. These attitudes range from sublime celestial inherent conditions to attitudes of devilish arrogance. If an immense progressive self development in one of the two takes place, it would deny an inclination to change. In effect, “the dark half” as I wish to portray it, would mean the attitude of the personality one hides in the face of public.
The public life as ordained by man being a social being, makes him/her composite of four complexions or humours. These humours, as understood in literary study of Shakespeare, obey the attitudes of human nature. These four are: melancholy, phlegm, blood and choler. Each of these, as will be detailed later, consist in unifying “the dark half” of human nature into the self as we display to the world. It explains reasons for man’s transcendence from devilish to angelic or, the plummet from angelic to devilish. The emphasis thus, stresses upon man as a social being participating in a world of rational codes, which sometimes become a heaven or a hell on earth.
Melancholy therefore, is the human complexion of being sad or lightly depressed. It registers upon the well understood fact that people have moods which, at any given instant can vary from happy to sad and possibly to gruesome aggression. However, melancholy as a condition can be controlled, understood and ‘expelled’ from oneself. In effect, it perpetuates the notion that melancholy in itself can consume an individual into a state of self-pity. Thus, the possibility of ‘expelling’ one’s self from the condition becomes difficult. We notice the melancholy of Antonio in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice when he complains his friends, Salarino and Solanio, that a sadness has overwhelmed him and dulled his faculties. He is at a loss to explain why. His mood affects all and the ramifications changes the context of his social interaction.
To explain one’s moods to people is a cumbersome process and when the bad mood becomes public, society would in most cases assume this bad mood to be your ‘dark half’. If this is not addressed or contained, it will be further assumed that you have the potential for even worse behaviour leaning on to aggression or social vindictiveness. It is hard to shake off a perceived image. What eventually happens in the minds of people is that your ‘dark half’ is given expression on the perceptions created by your behaviour. Now you are seen as bad and capable of even more undesirable attitudes leaning onto even more potential aggressive tendencies and vindictiveness.
The social vindictiveness is extricably linked with the humour; phlegm. Phlegm, in essence is a mucous excrement from the throat. It is symbolic of a person being unpleasant in character and disposition such that his company is repulsive rather than attractive. His words for example, have no real social cohesion with people. It actually divides and causes dissension. This portrays the individual as one who finds more reasons to be vindictive and perpetuating negativity. Therefore, it is like the ‘dark half’ image permeates society and that becomes his label. The label is not positive because society has entrenched it.
Like how one ejects phlegm from your throat, bad character ejects you from society. The links of phlegmatic behaviour is the cause of many social problems and on a larger scale wars and war crimes. When these are studied with an unbiased mind, one is horror struck at how people will kill, rape, pillage, plunder, destroy and annihilate each other for power. This is the ‘dark half’ of humanity too and it is so aggressive that it keeps those in power, in power. The point made here is that for man to flare up wars and genocide is becoming quicker than before all because, the ‘dark half’ has now been dressed in garbs of virtue for example, collateral damage, is a gloss over for mass killings. Due to a lack of patience to react violently and uncontrollably is very much the impatience we suffer with a little phlegm in the throat. We spit it out without a care of surroundings all because we want to be comfortable. This selfish indulgence is the ‘dark half’ we have been feeding all the time.
Anger is with us all the time and all it needs is the right stimulus. Anger is attached to the complexion; blood. The redness of blood is symbolic of danger and other variants of it. Blood flows throughout the body signifying that a person’s anger, vindictiveness and aggression overwhelms the the self if left uncontrolled. When blood flows out of a wound it spreads and it is not a pleasant sight. Similarly, when anger overwhelms you, it is an unpleasant sight for the all and it is very distasteful. When a wound is healed, the blessings of recovery is very comforting similarly the cooling off after a bout of anger is comforting too but, the effects of anger does not heal like a wound. This indicates that what issues from the tongue in anger cannot be taken back. Its malicious effect harms the self and others around it. If too many people in a society are just angry, society suffers the trauma hurt which leads to unnecessary divisions and unhealthy situations.
Unhealthy situations are part of societies and the environments wherein lies the solutions. Solutions and resolutions occurs within the self only if the willingness exists. The final complexion is choler. Choler is the derivative from the disease cholera. The disease can spread like a plague and if not curbed thousands of lives can be lost. What this complexion signifies is that man is conditioned by the environment and like how a disease can be combatted by an antidote, man can save himself from the negative conditioning of the environment by enjoining in good and forbidding evil. However, there must be little or no grey area about what is right and wrong because, it is criterion of excellence. Guarding oneself from the phlegmatic evils of backbiting, slander and mischief making amongst many is a means to suppress the ‘dark half.’
The 2021 addition
In the pursuit of success, we have become accustomed to looking at self-development as a means to attaining goals. Darkness disappears when light enters and when something is brought into the light, it is seen for what it really is. However, all that is in the dark is not necessarily bad or evil. In your unexplored self which I want to say is also the dark half there are so many things left unattended. When we have BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) we feel frightened to bring them out into the light because if we fail in achieving them, we will feel like hopeless failures. Failure, then is the dark half we shy away from. When we bring the BHAGs into the light we are see that our dark half begins to quiver under the interminable aura of success.
Success is such a driving force that it can diminish enemies or, subdue life goal plans. It is what we give power too. Today, I have come to realise that the dark half is that part of ourself that we subdue to achieve greatness or that part of our psyche that worries more about what people will say. In effect, we become so negative that we cannot, for example, appreciate the sumptuous aroma of confectionary at the most exquisite patisserie and delight in the thought of eating all we see. Our neuro-linguistic programming becomes self-defeating because we talk ourself into negativity and hopelessness. This negative talk embellishes the sinister side of our dark half and therefore, we become insalubrious. We need to work on ourself and become an eternal optimist by making each moment count for something worthwhile because despair is the snare of the devil. When we give reality to something, you give it life but, you cannot resist something to which you grant no reality. Give your dark half the reality of great purpose, resilience, grit and perseverance. When these values come into the light, you life becomes the motivation for all those around you. The best around you, is you and; when you are your own best motivation, light prevails over all your darknesses. The following video captures the essence of why light dispels darkness and why hope evaporates hopelessness.
The future beckons and the self awaits a motivation. Get ahead because the dark half anticipates the light. The light is your power. The power to be strong and the resilience against overwhelming odds. In the end, it is you because in the beginning it was you without a name. Today, you have a name and live it in the light of all grandeur. When you do this you will understand: “The shadow personifies everything that the subject refuses to acknowledge about himself” – Jung, C. G.