A lot of people who seek therapy hope the problem is not theirs; the real problem is their family of origin, partner, or other circumstances of life, for which they are not at fault and not responsible for changes. The shadow stands in the light of consciousness, is ready for evaluation, and is drawn into a new moral choice. The part that has been accepted is incorporated into the ego; the other part is disassociated or repressed into the shadow (Freud’s id). The persona consists of the mask, hiding as well as revealing something, a socially cultured role. Persona anxiety comes before Shadow anxiety, where the qualities of the shadow are unknown to the ego. The shadow is an alternative ego identity developed in a different environment where normal ranges of rage and anger have not materialised.
A psychological complex or archetype is a group of related images having a common emotional tone and forming the core of the archetype. A traumatic event or neurosis can form a sudden complex, caught up in an overwhelming situation with distorted images and affect.
The Ego Complex
Our subjective sense of ‘I’, has consciousness associated with it based on the central archetype of the “Self” in the objective psyche (collective unconscious), even though the ego believes it is the centre of the universe. We need to understand the meaning of the complex, its purpose, and how we experience the complex (emotion) in a safe, contained space, reflecting upon it in the light of the conscious values of the personality. The purpose of the complex may come in symbolic form (dreams) or through observing the complex once activated and inaction with a client/therapist relationship. In a time of transition of liminality, the container and protective quality of the alliance in the process are crucial. Jung called the “anima/Animus “soul images, giving deeper meanings and more comprehensive experiences attached to the persona. The older identity has been loosened and can’t be reinstated again, while the new identity is not yet secure enough to be reborn.
The goal of Jung and life is individuation and the manifestation of one’s innate, inborn potential, which is never completed, more of a quest than a goal, where one is open to continued modification and growth. Complexes can be constellated in group therapy where projections and bias are noted and transgressed if possible, and the identity structures of ego and shadow can be transcended or integrated. The relational structures of the anima/ animus /persona are our bridges to the outer world, how we interact within relationships and society, in the collective or personal unconscious.
Individuation Is a natural process, and analysis does not activate it but can make it conscious through analysis, and one is better to grasp and describe the process consciously.
One is less likely to reopen neurotic behaviours and more likely able to help others through a similar process.
Process of analysis
- Relief of symptoms and normalise desire
- Explanation of the past to relieve distress in the present (reductive)
- Containing the neurotic ego and dissolving illusions and attachments.
- Self-examination and then compassion for oneself
What becomes clear is that their fears of rejection from others are, in fact, self-rejection, usually projected onto the world. The client becomes aware of internal resistance and defences as the person will fight hard to keep hold of their beliefs and values. Identification and integration of the shadow revealed behind the persona, not at all desirable, is needed for growth and transformation, to regain self-esteem and assertiveness, express affect freely, and confront fears. The true self originates in the transcendent function, beyond the tension of opposites, through the creation of the symbolic form and the solution, instead of a logical one. This often takes the form of a tacit shift in the ego identity, where one becomes more aware of the relationship between the ego and the self, discharging the image of the self. One is then able to work at a deeper and more relational level, with better tolerance and guidance, more open without losing one’s identity. Dream analysis can force the ego to face up to the avoidance of individuation, address the inner conflicts, and eventually acknowledge the archetypal self.
The first half of life is the development of a strong ego and container for the soul, whereas the second half is reconciling the ego to meaning and purpose in the face of inevitable death.