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Is Carl Jung's Shadow Work (Looking into One's Dark Side) Tested Scientifically to be Effective?

I have been reading about Carl Jung's shadow and looking into one's darker sides than one's conscious sense of self does not acknowledge.
Jordan Peterson talks a lot about this in his videos too.
I probably should read his book, 12 rules for life.

However, I have found mixed scientific reviews about the effectiveness of this path of self-development.

I wonder whether

  • It sounds good in theory but fails in practice
  • Its effectiveness depends on person to person
  • It helps to a certain extent but it's not the be-all and end-all

Personally, I find it helps although I cannot be sure because it's hard to measure progress in the mind.

I have found that it helps to

  • Acknowledge that I enjoy being evil
    (whether I do evil things is another matter; sometimes I do)
  • Empathise why people do evil
  • Get less affected by value-taking actions because it's the way things are.
    People do things for their self-interest and good feelings.
    Evil is a social construct of what's bad for general society.
    Even that differs across societies which is why we have different criminal justice systems.
  • Good for leadership
    Prevent myself and others from spiralling towards unhealthy directions.
    Use less-than-ideal drives to motivate towards goals
  • Personal acceptance
    It's not about right or wrong.
    It's how things are.
  • Personal acceptance leads to acceptance of other individuals
    One is probably not that different from other humans.
    Accepting a big part of yourself as a human, the darker side, allows you to accept that in others.

The thing is that I have found mixed reviews and even criticism of Carl Jung's work.

As such, I will leave this concept of shadow work as

Seems to work on a personal level.
Not sure whether it actually works.
Whether scientific studies have helped to show it works is unclear too.
Let's leave this as an open door for now.

LorenzoE has reacted to this post.

Let me preface this by saying I am no expert in Jung's philosophy and Jung as a man / psychologist.

So this is what I've personally settled on, based on limited data -and I may be wrong-.

I eventually will read Jung, but it's not high in my priority list the same way that Freud is not high.

Great thinkers and revolutionaries, but about Freud I'm pretty sure he "powerfully" strayed from more scientific approaches and relied more on his own "theory-building skills".
Freud had his practice to get some data from, but if you don't properly measure that data and don't properly stress test your theories for mistakes, then you're bound to connect those data entries a bit haphazardly.
Especially with Freud's self-assured approach and tendency to jump to conclusions.
He also had his colleagues to bounce ideas with -we're now using this forum for something similar-, but he wasn't leveraging that network nearly to its fullest because he was busier leading them and feeding them with his theories -they were squires, more than independent thinkers-.

That's my own view on Freud.

Freud was still a genius, but you're probably better off reading modern psychology, which is in part based on Freud's good ideas, but better tested and researched.

I know less about Jung, but my view is that it's a case similar to Freud: probably a genius with plenty of genius insights.
But not enough stress-tested and you're probably better off with more modern work based on Jung's ideas, but better supported by evidence.

Matthew Whitewood has reacted to this post.
Matthew Whitewood
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

I suppose we can use evolutionary psychology for a more balanced view than Carl Jung's shadow concept.
But I have not done enough research on Carl Jung to understand what he exactly means.

It's natural for humans to evolve to have self-interested (selfish for negative connotation) behaviour for survival and reproduction.
If these self-interested mindsets and behaviours are bad for others, then we can call these the darker drives of humans.

Well, the pro-social motivations evolved because they help an individual to survive in a collaborative society too.

Then, manipulation and Machiavellianism occur as a consequence of collaboration.

I do see what you mean.
Carl Jung and Freud seem to be good at marketing their work.
Shadow does seem like an edgy concept.

Personal Motivation

I have been relying on personal experience on developing mental resilience along with reflection, books and this website resources.
The occasional research paper but not too much.
Like going out of my comfort zone, challenging my own beliefs, etc.

I generally feel quite "resilient".
But the occasional thing happens and catches me off-guard.
Although I am still able to continue with the day despite the bad feelings.

I thought maybe looking into even more science & research could help me with becoming more resilient.
Maybe I haven't done enough research, but it seems that some concepts like grit do have not much scientific backing.

Anti-fragile ego and growth mindset seem to work for me.
Though I have read criticism about Carol Dweck's work on growth mindset, whether it works and how scientifically rigorous it is.

Positive psychology helps a lot as well.
There's a lot of science and research there already.
I could look into that direction even more.

Maybe the current techniques already give 80% of the benefits.
So, unless I want to go further which involves a lot of reading, research & thinking, I can make use of the current techniques.

LorenzoE has reacted to this post.
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