Shadow Archetypes


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What is the Shadow archetype?

Does it have any other names or titles?

Did Carl Jung first identify the Shadow archetype?

Carl Jung was indeed the first person to specify the Shadow archetype, and he was very interested in the concept of the Shadow. According to Jung, everyone has a Shadow, and each archetype has its own Shadow form as well. Every archetype’s positive elements can be balanced by a negative Shadow.

There is, however, a specific archetype that is also called the Shadow. This is part of the four main archetypes of the human psyche, and everyone has one. It is also a negative force, but getting in touch with the Shadow and coming to terms with it can make a big difference in a person’s sense of Self.

The Shadow archetype doesn’t have any other names, particularly because its identity is so crucial to the concept of Jungian archetypes in general.

In this article, you’ll learn all about the Shadow archetype. You’ll find out what it is, how to identify it, and what you might be able to achieve if you are able to make peace with your own Shadow.

Learn more below.

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Shadow Details

In this section, you’ll find more specific details about the Shadow archetype. You can use this information to help build your own sense of Self as you explore all of the aspects that make up your psyche. Take time to consider everything your Shadow may have to offer you.


  • Personal Shadow: This is an individual’s own Shadow. If you interact with your Shadow in any capacity, you are dealing with your Personal Shadow.
  • Impersonal Shadow: This is the Shadow that includes everything evil in the world. Murder, for example, is a part of the Impersonal Shadow.
  • Evil Counterpart: This Shadow is very similar to a “good guy,” but has more evil tendencies. They may sometimes work together, eventually going their separate ways once again as the two of them work toward their own very different goals.
  • Evil Twin: This Shadow is exactly like the Hero, but is twisted and showcases the corrupt, negative side of what the Hero could be.


  • The overall objective of the Shadow is to do everything the rest of the psyche thinks is wrong. The Shadow embodies all the badness the Self identifies, and it yearns to let those concepts, feelings, and morals come to the surface. It can be likened to the idea of vices, and those who give in to their Shadows—even for a moment—are likely to indulge in their own vices because of this.


  • This archetype wants to do everything it is told it cannot do. It may have desires that are violent, sexual, or extremely selfish, for example.
  • The Shadow archetype wants to remind the Self of everything difficult and negative that it’s been through. It brings up these memories purposefully.
  • This archetype wants to hate, and it wants to be allowed to hate. It does not like to be told that it shouldn’t feel negatively toward other people, situations, or things.


  • One of the most important goals of the Shadow is to be recognized. When the Shadow is recognized and dealt with accordingly, it enters into a balance with the rest of the psyche, and it no longer holds the kind of destructive power it may have once had.
  • The Shadow wants to be shared with others. Of course, the Self often does not want this to happen, and will usually do whatever it can to hide the Shadow away from those around them.
  • The Shadow’s goal—even if it doesn’t realize this—is to help the Self grow and flourish into something well-rounded and thoroughly identified.


  • The Shadow is good at remembering. Although much of what it remembers may be negative, these memories can be accessed for growth and self-expression.
  • The Shadow is ideal for self-analyzing. Most therapists, even if they don’t use the same terminology, help people work on their issues and problems by allowing them to access their Shadow through guided therapy. Safe exploration of the Shadow can make a big difference and can guide a person toward healing.
  • The nature of the Shadow is to intrigue. Since it is intriguing, people are more interested in exploring it and in finding out more about themselves in the process.


  • This is a dark and often evil archetype, and allowing it to take over can bring any individual to a terrible state.
  • It may be very difficult to regain control of the Self after the Shadow has had time to take hold. People become aggressive, mean, vicious and angry when the Shadow is in control of them.
  • The Shadow causes individuals to hold onto fears and traumatic experiences, and when it isn’t dealt with appropriately, these issues quickly take control of the person in question.


  • The Shadow is dark, brooding, and mysterious.
  • The Shadow is secretive and hides away from others, trying to keep its actions away from them.
  • The Shadow is repressed but powerful, and when it has a chance to break free, it does so with intensity and purpose.


Did you realize that the Shadow archetype could have any positive elements? Were you aware of how important it is to reach out to your Shadow and determine what makes it the archetype that it is? Now that you’ve had a chance to spend a little time considering the Shadow in general, it’s a good idea to focus on your specific Shadow. You may learn something about yourself in the process.

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Here are a few Shadow archetype examples for you to consider as you continue studying and contemplating:

  • Mr. Hyde of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: Hyde represents a literal Shadow to Jekyll, and the two are a classic representation of light vs. dark in the Self.
  • The Joker from Batman: The Joker is Batman’s foil, and he is also his Shadow. Everything that Batman is, Joker embodies the opposite. In many iterations, however, they have more in common than either would like to admit.
  • Dr. Frankenstein of Frankenstein: Dr. Frankenstein is the negative Shadow of his Monster. Although the Monster may be frightening, it is Dr. Frankenstein who is more worthy of being feared.
  • Gollum in The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is a prime example of what could happen to Frodo if he allows darkness to overtake him on his quest. He is the Shadow to Frodo’s light.
  • Kylo Ren in Star Wars: Star Wars has many light vs. dark elements and several characters who act as foils for each other. Kylo Ren, however, is one of the more recent Shadows within the series. He is the Shadow to Rey’s Hero, although both of them have the ability to be read as each other’s Shadows as well.

These are just some variations of the Shadow that appear in fiction. Remember that Shadows don’t have to be fictional, and they don’t have to be entirely bad. There are many forms of the Shadow, and it is important to pay attention to yours.


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