Monday, 14 November 2011

The Double Bind Shadow Side

The ‘shadow’ or shadow side’ were descriptive terms for the psyche devised by Carl Jung. They refer to the repressed and denied aspects of ones self that generally re-emerge through unconscious behaviour patterns. Perhaps, as a child we were shamed by a parent for asking for something. As a result we repress the pain of this incident and engage in a new behaviour pattern to modify our contact with the world and protect our self from any potential new trauma. The shadow can have either positive or negative aspects, but either aspect remains out of the immediate awareness of the individual.

I’m sure we are all familiar with encountering the denied aspect of a person in a one to one relationship. Whether it be the negligent manager, the aggressive drinking companion or the non-committed lover these stereotypes aptly display individuals who relate to the world with a significant denial of their full selves. It is only through their relationship with the ‘outer’ world that they can become fully conscious of their disparity. Typically they have something to ‘gain’ from their shadow actions however, so it can take some time and effort to tease out their motivations and imbed a more cohesive awareness in them.

The shadow holds great power over the collective however, and more conscious individuals can often feel perplexed in certain groups or environments. This relates to what I refer to as the ‘double bind shadow side’. Although individuals may have different needs, if their shadows are complimentary they can work together in a cohesive and symbiotic partnership. This will be to the detriment of the conscious individual who may become bemused at some of the decisions that unfold before their eyes, as they may by pass logic and common sense. If a manager has chosen to lead to override the childhood impotence that he denies in himself, he may be swayed by the shadow of others for example. A member of his team may have a shadow based on greed due to an inner sense of poverty and in an unconscious double bind he may accept the poor leadership, and even validate it with the aspiration that his material needs can be met. On an operating level the immediate failings of the manager will be overlooked which may bemuse onlookers and have them question their own perceptions. The veneer of the relationship is not the issue however.

A good example of the double bind shadow side would include the cancerous materialism that has spread through English football. A series of wealthy and self-serving individuals have taken control of the countries top clubs in recent years. As a result they have poisoned the morality of the game by feeding through obscene wages and contracts to players with supporting structures that only further validate the merry go round. Neither the hierarchy, owners or players are truly aware of their corrosive greed and the inappropriate behaviour it generates. It sits in the shadow and runs round robin through a symbiotic meeting of their unconscious feedback loop. The fans are the conscious witnesses to the shadow side double bind, bemused and perplexed by the activity that stains the beautiful game and damages their relationship to it.

An even cruder example of the double bind would include factors that have influenced the current global recession. The credit crunch was a bizarre situation to witness for many conscious individuals. I remember returning home from work one evening to receive a letter from my bank the Halifax. It contained a blank cheque, which I could write to myself for the sum of ten thousand pounds. My bank were sending me begging letters to borrow ten thousand pounds that I neither wanted or needed! Alas, many individuals fell foul to the ‘generosity’ of their financial caregivers in a damaging symbiotic feedback loop. The shadow of the bank hierarchy needed to maintain constant economic growth to facilitate its ‘inner’ deprivation. Many unconscious members of the public borrowed money unnecessarily, once again to continue the escapade of acting out their ‘inner’ deficiency. Now the whole system is collapsing around us and many hardworking conscious people are left wondering, what the hell happened?

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