You're in Charge:
A Guide to Becoming Your Own Therapist
Chapter 6 (an excerpt)
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instance, a woman came
to the first meeting of one of my dream classes with a dream in
which there was a teacher named Minerva. The student disclaimed
any knowledge of mythology, yet further work on the dream demonstrated
that she expected me to be very wise!
Jungian analysts believe
that some people (especially people in the second half of their
lives) have dreams that demonstrate this process of individuation.
The beginning will be heralded by dreams containing floods, earthquakes,
giant fires, or similar symbols of psychic transformation.
Next will come dreams
about the shadow or the dark side of humanity and himself that the
dreamer has rejected, condemned, or ignored. In dreams, these rejected
characteristics are projected onto another person, frequently a
"black man". Jung felt that it is essential for all of
us to re-own this universal shadow. According to his biographer,
Laurens van der Post (Jung and the Story of Our Time, he believed:
The individual who withdraws his shadow from his neighbor and finds
it in himself and is reconciled to it as to an estranged brother
is doing a task of great universal importance.
The persecution of the
Jews by the Nazis and of Blacks by Whites are two hideous examples
of the shadow unchecked and permitted expression on a national level.
The concept of the shadow
is not a Twentieth Century or even a Nineteenth Century discovery.
Plato wrote in The Republic: "Even in the most respectable
of us there is a terribly bestial and immoral type of desire, which
manifests itself particularly in dreams."
To work on your own
shadow, be sure to identify, gestalt-style, with every sinister
person in your dreams. (You created this person in your dream. And
every evil that he performs there is of your invention.) If you
don't own this evil as part of your psyche, but continue to self-righteously
condemn it in others, a sad and strange transformation occurs. We
tend to become what we condemn and oppose. I suspect this is the
real meaning behind the New Testament injunction to "resist
not evil." One of the tragedies of our history is that so often
groups who wish to promote social justice conceptualize the group
in power as the enemy and evil. By the time they have succeeded
in overthrowing the "enemy" they have acquired all of
The shadow can also
be a friend whom you secretly despise or envy. And it will be your
flip side. If you are sexually liberated, your shadow may be someone
whom you perceive as "prudish." If you are a jet-setter,
expect a prosaic stay-at-home clerk-typist. Or if you voluntarily
maintain a 60-hour work week, your shadow may present itself as
a "bum" waiting in line for his unemployment check!
Men can expect to have
dreams of their anima and women of their animus, which according
to Jung are the archetypes of their unconscious and unexpressed
feminine and masculine parts. Anima examples are the mysterious
unknown woman, Dante's Beatrice or Liv Ullmann or Barbra Streisand.
Animus examples are the dashing Arab, the mysterious stranger, the
knight in shining armor, Robert Redford, or frequently a group of
See what your anima
or animus is doing in your dream. Imagine doing that activity yourself.
We cannot be whole until we have reclaimed the opposite-sex side
of ourselves. The man needs to reown his gentle, nurturing, artistic
side, rather than projecting it onto his anima (whom he may pursue
relentlessly in his waking life.) The woman needs to reown her aggressive,
logical, thinking abilities, rather than always casting these onto
her animus and onto the men in her life.