Throughout the years of his study of the inner-workings of the human psyche, Jung conceived archetypal components which play important roles in the psychological and social development of each individual. These unconscious personalities are the soul images of the ego, persona, shadow, anima and animus. They accompany and inform the attitudes and behaviors of a person throughout the stages of his or her life.
The shadow is “the ‘negative’ side of the personality, the sum of all those unpleasant qualities we like to hide, together with the insufficiently developed functions and the contents of the personal unconscious” (Jung 87). It persists as a powerful dynamic, a dark companion seeking always to remind one of its presence. It is generally attributed the same sex as the ego but with foreign qualities, opposite of the persona. And when it is also suppressed, the darker aspect of the Self will surface in ways altogether contrary. This is the shadow: the disowned, denied sub- personality. While the shadow generally compensates for the superficiality of the persona and the persona often equalizes the anti-social characteristics of the shadow, shadow is not limited to those things we conceive of as bad. Even the parts of our persona that we don't love so much, has a shadow. In other words, if you consider yourself a shy, timid person; you may harbor a rockstar shadow.
When suppressed, the shadow exemplifies fear-based hostility and insecurity. It arises from the human tendencies toward attachment and aversion. Repression, denial, and or projection of the shadow for ego-preservation is exhibited throughout the human experience. Paranoia is the product, when we turn those we perceive as enemies into devils that deserve extermination. What results is not a outward conflict alone (as in ethnic wars), but also an internal Self-division. The process of individuation, therefore, requires one to face and integrate the shadow into the whole person.
Although confronting the shadow is difficult, conjuring emotions of guilt, fear and pain; the Self’s full potential is also locked within it. As long as it remains hidden there, it is unavailable to the total personality. The work of the hero is to become conscious of and responsible for the shadow. For this level of wholeness morality does not require dogma or compulsion, and personal and social harmony may be achieved. Radical authenticity is attainable as one discovers his or her True Nature. Jung asserts, “Such a man knows that whatever is wrong in the world is in himself, and if he only learns to deal with his own shadow he has done something real for the world” (243).
Jung, Carl Gustav. The Essential Jung: Selected Writings Introduced by Anthony Storr. Princeton UP, 1983.