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on 5 March 2001
This is an excellent book and describes in succint and everyday language, the struggle that each one of us faces. The struggle is described as that where all the areas of our psyches that we ignore and discard and disown as being 'unpleasant' or 'the dark side of our character' sooner or later come back out of the closet, and depending on the degree of repression and denial, unless owned, can be projected with resultant destructiveness. In one very down to earth passage the book describes the polarities and mixed messages we experience in or lives e.g. in business it's important to win, but every Sunday we are taught that humility is important; and how the real work is not to adopt one end of the polarity over another but to embrace both to create a healthy vibrant dynamic paradox. This is where the gold is found in our shadow. This is an excellent book. Very succintly and plainly put.
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on 25 July 2005
Your shadow is all of the bits of your psyche you don't like and don't admit to. Most of them are grim but one or two are the nice bits that you can't handle. Ignoring them doesn't make them go away but you do it anyway. This doesn't stop them demanding expression. Because you can't admit to them, you project them onto other people. You're seeing your own shadow when you look at others and so simultaneously fail to see them and yourself clearly. Result: general unhappiness and inauthentic living. The solution is to fess up, embrace all the bits you pretend aren't there, and take control of how you express them. You achieve this through balance and creative synthesis.
So far, so Jung. Unfortunately, this is as far as the author goes in this slim volume. Johnson presents an overview of part of the Jungian process of individuation. It's fine if that's all you want. If, however, you're struggling to integrate your own shadow, this will serve as little more than a theoretical starting point. Never knowingly specific, Johnson examines no case studies but simply floats charming phrases like 'creative synthesis' with no investigation into what these might mean in practice. He's happy to bob along on the surface of psychological abstraction; if you plan to learn to dive, you'll need a different instructor.
This lack of depth isn't necessarily a flaw, although it restricts the usefulness of the book to readers who want to learn a little of the theory of psychic shadows without engaging with their own. Much more off-putting are the numerous references to Christian scripture. These are what Johnson provides instead of case studies, how he exemplifies the principles he's trying to get across. Unlike Jung, though, he often seems not to recognise them as metaphor and mythology. Nor are they always especially relevant to the point at issue; by halfway through the book they felt more opportunistic than enlightening.
If you haven't come across the concept of the shadow self before, this book could interest you. Be warned though - it contains only directions *to* it, not a map *of* it. It's expensive too, for a text that's both physically and metaphorically thin. If you're already struggling with your shadow, better to look for something more direct and personally engaged - Jung himself, or the Taoists for instance. Under those circumstances, Johnson's book seems only frustratingly vague with a bit of sneaky preaching smuggled in.
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on 2 December 2008
An excellent book - Johnsons style is long in meaning and short in useless descriptions and words. Its more a picture than a book - a masterpiece like all his books. Its gently and smart written!
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This is an uncomfortable read for anyone who thinks at all about they own behaviour. Everyone has a shadow - that is qualities in their personality which they are not aware of and which they often project on to other people. Anyone we meet and take an instinct dislike to could be the recipient of a shadow projection from us.

As human beings we tend to be very good at recognising other people's bad qualities while being totally blind to those same qualities in ourselves. The author makes clear that it is not just the unacceptable aspects of our own personalities which we project and we may be projecting qualities which could be of immense value in our own lives if we could only recognise and reclaim them.

We need to accept all of our own personalities and characters or we will constantly find them coming back to bite us in unexpected ways. This is a lifetime job and most of it will never completely acknowledge all of our own qualities but we need to make the attempt. A thought provoking read.
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on 28 June 2011
Jungian explanation of shadow function clearly laid out on a layman's way.

Brilliant way of writing: uncomplicated, witty and from personal experiences combined with Jung's

Perfect way to work yourself into the Jung matter. Enjoyed it thoroughly
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on 20 October 2013
If you really interesting in shadow work look for something more comprehensive. This book provides very general information - not worth to purchuase at all.
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on 26 December 2013
Not the highest level of truth that I have found, however, some very good information here. Some of the material is padded out a little too much and in my opinion there are also many points which need expanding. It seems to lose momentum half way through, but redeems itself at the end. Please take into consideration after reading, that this review is strict. I would say the book is well worth buying.
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on 20 June 2009
If you would like to unravel who you really are or perhaps you question why you repeat dysfunctional patterns then you could find many answers in this excellent little book. In less than 120 pages the author throws light on various aspects of the unconscious which can cause problems in relationships. By illuminating the shadow side of the psyche the author guides the reader gently into the threshold of a world of self discovery.
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on 1 September 2015
I read this book in a day and found it very inspiring. It isn't a formulaic self-help manual but I have never found those helpful anyway. This book is far more useful in that it provides a clue to how we can deal our own problems - because we are all quite different in this way. This is the way to true transformation, I believe - being nannied along & told what to do may feel more helpful but no genuine inner work progresses like that.
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on 19 July 2013
The book was philosophical and I had hoped for a more pscychotherapeutic approach. I felt it "never got going" somehow
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