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A Little Book on the Human Shadow Paperback – June 22, 1988
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About the Author
Robert Bly's books of poetry include The Night Abraham Called to the Stars and My Sentence Was a Thousand Years of Joy. His awards include the National Book Award for poetry and two Guggenheims. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
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Top Customer Reviews
It is a wonderful, digestible, brief introduction to psychological concepts that are new to me for understanding my motivations, anxieties and frustrations in such a way that I can begin to create positive, conscious change in my life.
His premise is that we are born with "360-degree radiance." Our spirits shine in all directions, good, bad, indifferent. Over the first 20 years or so of our lives we learn to stuff the "bad" parts into a bag so that we become well behaved, more polite, and able to manage our anger etc. We also stuff other things in there too, like our "feminine" or "masculine" sides and our "witch" or "giant" archetypes, among others. And to explain why these parts are missing, we learn to say things like "oh, I'm not really a creative-type person."
This process continues up to about age 35 wherein we begin to "rattle" a little, we begin to miss parts of ourselves. This often surfaces as resentment of others or depression. Basically, the masks we project onto ourselves and others don't seem to fit as well and this spooks us as the slipping masks reveal things that don't fit with our world view. We begin to lose tons of energy putting masks back on, dragging our shadow bags behind us and emotionally struggling to deal with the changes we feel. At this point we have a choice, we can either eat our shadows and reintegrate them with our personality/psyche or we can devote increasing amounts of energy to our rigidity, becoming more controlling toward and intolerant of others.
This is exactly the point I find myself at ...Read more ›
Bly notes that "when one 'projects,' one is really giving away an energy or power that rightfully belongs to one's own treasury." From a young age, we learn to project outward, ridding ourselves of the inner tyrants, giants, and witches of the psyche. We may project onto individuals (parents as well as husbands and wives receive a lot of projections), onto any number of "them's" (the government is a favorite "them" in
America) or onto other cultures and races. While there is always an initial gain (by projecting the witch outward, we don't have to deal with her), unowned shadow material eventually comes back to haunt us. The more parts of the inner world we give away, the more diminished we become.
At a certain point in life, however, when we are no longer interested in blaming or projecting onto others, we begin the long, lone journey of searching for our shadow. Bly speaks of
"eating the shadow," retrieving its power from its projected place and reclaiming its energy. No small feat, but a damn worthy endeavor. By honoring the shadow, we honor ourselves.
As for the reviewer who dismissed it as a "self-help" book, I'm not sure what to make of that comment. Some of the subjects discussed in this book entail deep, thoughtful reflection on one's own personality and being. Serious introspection and self-analysis is necessary to do the kind of work Bly talks about. I suppose anything we do to make ourselves better people can be described as "self-help," but I don't know why in the world that would be considered a bad thing.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book of prose and poetry is as vibrant as when I first read it 27 years ago. And no wonder! In politics, business, academics, art, and family life plus, of course, religion,... Read morePublished 9 days ago by Ellis H. Pines
This book is great, it talks about peopels shadows that are unconscious .Published 1 month ago by Brittaney
A book I will read again and again - and again and again to remember what and who I am.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
I've probably given this book to more people than I can remember. It is wonderful little book for anyone hounded by an addiction, or simply by the notion that he or she is not... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Lorraine Kreahling
Fantastic and accessible introduction to the Jungian concept of "Shadow". A chilling read, if you find yourself not getting the relationships/results you want in life. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Count 2Zero
I read this one before and bought it again because I wanted it on my kindle. It is a classic. Buying it twice...need I say more?Published 7 months ago by Business Guy
Very special piece of literature that provides a wholly refreshing and deeply insightful perspective on how "we got the way we are" for both professionals and the... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Nancy Payne