Owning Your Own Shadow, by Robert A. Johnson PhD, 1991

This is the first book by Dr. Robert Johnson that I read. A minister loaned me his copy.

This book is about the Jungian idea that in order to move from childhood to adulthood we have to put both good and bad parts of ourselves into our unconscious. Sometime in our midlife we have to reexamine our shadow and get things back out. This is a midlife crisis or individuation or differentiation and it's really a life long process. It can be functional or dysfunctional: the conservative senator who has always been against gay rights and then flips and starts texting male pages. The "sudden change" is the dysfunctional version. In the functional version the person comes to the realization that they have done what society and family wanted them to do and they have reached a point where they are no longer satisfied with that. Then they must turn inwards and ask, what do I want to do?

Dr. Johnson asks the question: "What three things about yourself are you most proud of?" I found that easy to answer. Then he turned that question around and I thought: I don't like this at all.

I bought five copies and gave them away. I have read it three times now over ten years and I go on learning. I highly recommend this book.

The picture on the cover is a face holding a mirror and almost looking at itself, with fear and trepidation. We all have to look in our mirrors, or else we project our own shadow selves, good and bad, on to others.


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