What is Shadow Psychology?

What is Shadow Psychology?
Written By: Clinical Psychologist
RIMS - M.Phil
Reviewed By: Counselling Psychologist
MA Psychology Pennsylvania State University, USA
Last Updated: 29-09-2023

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“The Shadow is a part of us that we disown, but it holds valuable insights and gifts waiting to be acknowledged and integrated”
Conne Zweig

The Shadow is a concept that is part of Carl Jung’s Psychoanalytic theory of personality. It talks about the unconscious, repressed desires and thoughts that are harboured and hidden by every person. In simple terms it refers to those primitive aspects of our self that we don’t acknowledge consciously. It includes irrational thoughts and impulses, unresolved emotions and fantasies. 

Carl Jung believed that these impulses, thoughts and desires were mostly negative and it’s usually hidden by people as they feel that it would be frowned upon by society. According to him, the personality of a person consists of two parts. One is the persona and the other is the shadow self. 

 “The Persona is the necessary and functional  part of the psyche, but it should not be mistaken for the true self” 
Carl Jung 

The Persona is the part of ourself that we present to the outside world. It is like the “mask” we wear so that we are accepted by society. It is useful to us in many regards. It helps us to function properly in the world because it allows us to construct a stable idea of self. Jung stated that this, however, is not the entire (or true) self of a person. There is another part. 

The Shadow represents that part of the self that is not in the conscious awareness of people and is often repressed and hidden away in the unconscious. It contains the primitive nature of human beings. 

The hidden aspects of shadow

Repressed Emotions - Perhaps these are emotions you have towards yourself or towards your family. If you have not processed these, they are likely to be pushed into the unconscious. Traumatic incidents are also repressed because they contain many triggers and emotions that could not be dealt with by the conscious mind. 
Irrational beliefs and desires - These refer to the irrational beliefs you might have about yourself and the world around you that heavily influence your decision-making, even when you are not onscious about it. These could be holding you back from many potentials that you have. 
Projections - Jung believed everyone had parts of themselves that they did not consciously accept.As a result, people developed a defence mechanism known as projection where people projected their own insecurities and biases onto others. This is an unconscious process and is an important characteristic of the shadow self. The best way to stop projection is to notice when you get triggered and use the help of a professional to uncover the underlying insecurity. 

If the Shadow contains all things negative and primitive, then why does Jung consider it to be a part of the true self? 

Jung’s idea of personality can be likened with that of an Iceberg. According to him, the Persona represented the visible (conscious) part of the iceberg and the Shadow self represented the bottom part of the iceberg that had a deep root in the ocean. It becomes crucial to understand the Shadow because the deep rooted unconscious influences the conscious. 

What is Shadow Psychology? 

Shadow Psychology refers to the conscious integration of the Shadow self along with Persona so that a person can achieve a holistic sense of being. Shadow Psychology is a part of Jungian Psychological practice where they help the clients face the unwanted thoughts and desires that they are hiding away. 

Such type of therapy focuses on ensuring that people become aware of their negative qualities and also embrace it so that they can become a complete person. Jung called such a type of person, an “Individuated” soul. An individuated soul is one who is in the process of forming a whole and individual personality. Bringing the negative into light will help people discover their true selves and will help them create an identity for themselves. 

Shadow Psychology also focuses on rewiring the brain to get rid of unhealthy thought patterns and unhealthy coping mechanisms that could be damaging to relationships. For example, through shadow psychology one can learn to confront their traumatic memories and emotions and learn emotion-regulation skills. Along with this they can also UN-LEARN a lot of skills such as that of projection, avoidance and aggression. 

If you are interested in learning more about Shadow Psychology and more such topics, feel free to reach out to our experts on HopeQure. 

Learn More at HopeQure

HopeQure is a platform that psychoeducates people on topics like triangulation, shadow self, consciousness and many more. Our goal is to make you self-aware! And apart from psychoeducation, we also provide assistance of our experts on any topics that are relevant to your well-being! So feel free to reach out and learn more! 


BetterHelp Team. (2023, March 22). What is Shadow Psychology? Better Help, https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/psychologists/what-is-shadow-psychology/


McHugh, S.V. (2021, June 30). What is Shadow Psychology? E-Counselling, https://www.e-counseling.com/mental-health/what-is-shadow-psychology/


Villines, Z. (2023, February 16). What is Shadow Work? What to Know? Benefits and Exercises. Medical News Today, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/what-is-shadow-work#what-it-is


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