Of Angels and Shadows

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The worst sickness in mental health is not classified as an illness.  It is rare in contemporary psych literature and discussions.  I would go as far to say that the majority of us are unknowingly suffering from it.  Yet, when we closely examine the effects of this problem we find that it is correlated with all self-injurious, suicidal, and addictive behavior.  These three problems contain the common theme of self-loathing-a self loathing that is perpetuated by the cunning and deadly  state of denial.  But it isn’t a denial of the actual behaviors that are my concern. It’s the denial of something deeper that evolves out of a mainstream consciousness that people are entirely good and that “badness” is an external mysterious force that selects only a small percentage of us.  Wrong!  The reality of human nature is that within it there is both good and evil and to exclusively attribute one to who we are is to deny our exact nature.  People are good, but they are also inherently flawed and capable of evil.  The goal is to live responsibly with these two natures.  However, the majority point of view tends to deny this fact and what results is a perpetuation of symptoms and high risk behaviors.  When we deny who we are and do not embrace our wholeness we become imprisoned by what we should be.  When the evil or flawed nature arises, on a subconscious level, we experience discomfort, anxiety, and self loathing.  The battle of suppression begins, often to intolerable heights leading to self-harm behaviors such as self-mutilation, addiction, and suicide.  When we internalize the lie that man is good and that’s all that he SHOULD be,  a frantic self-loathing society emerges-addicts use, cutters cut, and the hopeless attempt to nullify themselves into oblivion.

Imagine if we began to break the chains of internalized messages of what we should be and began to embrace what is- who we really are. When people fully acknowledge their strengths and weaknesses-their goodness and flaws- they are prone to inflict love rather than pain on themselves and others.  I believe it’s time we awaken to the reality of the all encompassing duality of good and bad.  

6 thoughts on “Of Angels and Shadows

  1. So, you’re saying that I should do my best not to suppress, vindictiveness or when I have an urge to engage in an adversarial posture in relationships. Are there degrees to suffering? As I am more aware of my responses to stimuli I do doubt myself and want to lash out. I am no longer killing myself in addiction but you raise an interesting and relevant issue

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    1. Yes, that’s the idea… acknowledgement of our inclination towards badness, however, should not be confused with acting on our dark desires. Once we reach an acknowledgement of them, we are better able to control them. The greatest freedom is exercised when we feel like lashing out or becoming resentful in our suffering but we choose otherwise. This is supernatural ability. When we are seemingly destined to be a certain way but everyday we choose to do the right thing we contribute to the improvement of society. A good way to visualize this battle is the head governing the body which contains two souls within attempting to use the good soul to control the unruly one. Once our hidden impulses are brought to the forefront we give ourselves the opportunity to control them and choose the best course of action.

      We can say that it’s not really our dark side (termed the Shadow by Carl Jung) that creates problems, it’s the suppression and negative judgment of it that is responsible for disorder. We are responsible for using the shadow creatively in constructive ways that benefits us and society…

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  2. I’m a fan of Freudian Structural Theory of Personality. Freud came up with 3 component parts of the mind. The ID which acts based upon the pleasure principle. It demands immediate gratification of needs. It is the source of our bodily needs, wants, desires, and impulses, particularly our sexual and aggressive drives. It is the proverbial devil on our shoulder. “It’s is the dark inaccessible part of our personality, we call it chaos, a cauldron full of seething excitations.” -Sigmund Freud New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysts pp. 105-6 .

    The SUPER-EGO acts as our conscience, our moral compass, telling us to be good and virtuous. It strives for perfection and punishes misbehavior with feelings of guilt. It would represent the angel upon our shoulder.

    Lastly, the EGO which is the referee between the former two. The EGO driven by the ID, confined by the SUPER-EGO and repulsed by reality struggles and readily breaks out in anxiety. The SUPER-EGO is constantly watching everyone of the EGO’s moves and punishes it with guilt, anxiety, and inferiority. To overcome this, the EGO employs unconscious defense mechanisms:
    Denial, Displacement of Agression, Projection, Regression, Rationalization, Repression, are some of the most well known.

    Carl Jung 1875-1961 was strongly influenced by Sigmund Freud 1856-1939, as Freud was was a genius.

    GREAT POST!!!!! 👍👍👍

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    1. Great response and breakdown of major themes in Freudian theory. Many times we overlook how it plays out in our daily life. For example, the repression of the shadow archetype. The consequences of a society that only sees a yin without the yang or a godly without the evil is what breeds destruction, as postulated by Jung. In history we see the wisest men knew that badness was not a mystical idea which lurked in and out of spiritual realms seldom possessing men, but an innate natural component that worked with or in opposition with every man’s goodness.

      Best to you, my friend!

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      1. I was thinking the other day how there are some fundamental parallels in Marsha Linehan’s DBT work to Freud’s Structural Theory in terms of these dualistic forces and mediator. Her work utilizes a framework consisting of 3 mind states as well: EMOTION MIND, (thinking and behavior controlled by emotions) REASONABLE MIND, (logical, intellectual, sticking to empirical facts) and WISE MIND, the mediation or synthesis of the former two. I suppose no one can re-invent the wheel. Best to you as well!

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