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Owning Your Own Shadow: Understanding the Dark Side of the Psyche Paperback – June 9, 2009


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Owning Your Own Shadow: Understanding the Dark Side of the Psyche + We: Understanding the Psychology of Romantic Love + She: Understanding Feminine Psychology
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: HarperSanFrancisco; Reprint edition (June 9, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062507540
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062507549
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.3 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,118 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The shadow in Jungian psychology is the unconscious dumping ground for undesirable characteristics of personality. "Owning" the shadow--accepting it as part of one's self--is seen as the first step toward wholeness. Using examples from history, mythology, and religion, Johnson, author of Inner Work ( LJ 7/86) and Transformation ( LJ 8/91), offers a tour of the shadow, showing its origin and features, and demonstrating how and why it bursts into consciousness when least expected. Returning to the subject of his earlier work We ( LJ 2/1/84), the author reveals how experience of romantic love may lead to awareness of both positive and negative aspects of the shadow, and how integrating the shadow into one's personality can be a challenging religious experience. This clearly written, thought-provoking work is recommended for academic and public libraries.
- Lucille Boone, San Jose P.L., Cal.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Robert A. Johnson, a noted lecturer and Jungian analyst, is also the author of He, She, We, Inner Work, Ecstasy, Transformation, and Owning Your Own Shadow.


More About the Author

Robert A. Johnson, a noted lecturer and Jungian analyst, is also the author of He, She, We, Inner Work, Ecstasy, Transformation, and Owning Your Own Shadow.

Customer Reviews

I am very appreciative of both books.
R. B. Weeks
If people will understand and work on their shadow we will have a much better world.
Mark D. Stewart
Do not make the mistake that you "got" the book if you read it only once.
E. Swope

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

106 of 108 people found the following review helpful By R. B. Weeks on October 1, 2005
Format: Paperback
This was the first book by Johnson I read, though my mentors and teachers spoke of him often. The information about the mandorla was particularly helpful, giving a visual and archetypical model for holding the energy of the apparently opposite forces in a space of new possibility.

Johnson writes that if I can be with the opposites, at the point of their intersection and stay with my conflicting thoughts and impulses long enough, the two will teach each other something and produce an insight that serves both... produce something utterly new instead of win, lose or compromise.

The key appears to be that every real solution has to grow from the unique situation I face. Formulas, how-to's, devices and processes can never be enough in such moments. Referring to my own past for an experiential reference or to another's experience or advice can't do it, either, because it prevents or sidetracks the point of unlimited potential that wants to appear in and emerge out of each unique encounter.

I liked what Maria had to say in her post: "Meet your shadow", dated November 22, 2003. She said she gave it only 4 stars because he doesn't tell how to DO that is described as possible in the book... I felt a little of that, too. And I have since appreciated the blessing of not being told how until I've done a bit of my own struggle with my own opposites in many life situations.

A book I found to be a perfect companion to this one is "I of the Storm - Embracing Conflict, Creating Peace", by Gary Simmons. I highly recommend it in addition to this book. It addresses some of the questions I felt about the nature of conflict after finishing Owning Your Own Shadow, in a way that shed light into my life. I am very appreciative of both books.
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59 of 63 people found the following review helpful By ex nihilo on November 22, 2003
Format: Paperback
I am currently ordering from amazon all the books by Robert A.Johnson, so this was the next one. This is a good general axplanation of the jungian concept of shadow illustrated, as it is usual in Johnson, with examples of western literature and art in general. The explanation of the mandorla (a typically mediaeval figure representing two circles that overlap, and that symbolizes the union of the opposites or paradox) is especially interesting. However, I have to give this book 4 stars because, after insisting so much on the importance of examining our shadow, honouring our shadow and balancing ego and shadow, he never gives a clue of how we can do do this.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By J. Severino on August 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
I have read Robert Johnson's autobiography, and have recently become intrigued by the concept of a "Shadow", so I looked forward to reading Robert's own thoughts on this particular archetype. I wasn't disappointed. The writing style is story-like, unfolding slowly right up until the conclusion. The only disappointment was the section on the Shadow in romantic relationships, which I don't think was covered particularly extensively. Nevertheless, the book was full of wisdom and insights into the role of the Shadow in our lives, and hammered home the important message that this archetype needs to be integrated into, not rejected from, our lives if we are to live holistically.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 8, 2003
Format: Paperback
Although this book is only 118 pages and easy to fly through reading, I found that it took me longer because I wanted to stop and ponder so many of the trinkets of wisdom Johnson displayed and I eventually got out a highlighter to mark the parts I found especially educating.
The premise is that everything is based on balance -- yin and yang, black and white, good and evil, but that to find our true balance we must explore the dark side of ourselves as much as the better part of ourselves. This is how we are (only momentarily) enlightened. I do have to slightly agree with some of these reviews in that Johnson's examples on just how to achieve this goal are sparse; yet, at the same time we are allowed to interpret our own shadows as we would like to and we are forced to find our own solutions. In this way, Johnson's book is more of a piece that requires you to work as much as he does.
The only thing that bothered me a bit was the collective shadow of a nation, which transforms into the tangible via wars, oppression, etc. While this is an interesting idea to ponder, it seems a little extreme to say that World War II (for example) was the formation of a shadow of a nation and not the real, underlying causes.
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44 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Brett Anderson on October 29, 2003
Format: Paperback
I am a therapist who comes from a Jungian perspective, but I would not yet call myself an "analyst." I am very impressed with Johnsons discussion on ones shadow. I found that it was a little off beat from classicaly Jungian thought, but not in any serious ways. I found his discussion of projecting ones shadow to be a great introduction. If however you have read Jung himself you will find the ideas fairly basic. The real strength of this work is the authors ability to reduce complex concepts into a form which can be so easily read.
The biggest error a reader can make is to try to read the book as a step-by-step manual. This book should be read for the big picture which appears when all of the details are assembled, otherwise the apparent contradictions will become very confusing. The reader would do well to remember that any discussion on the shadow is a discussion of opposites. You must therefore be able to focus on both opposites to understand the essence of the shadow. If you read other reviews you will notice that at least one of the reviewers seemed to be unable to make this leap.
I was surprised with the authors heavy use of Christian symbols. Normally Jungians draw from several spiritual systems with thier systems, but I suppose it fits with Christianities repeated attempts to demonize the shadow in the first place.
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