"A restless wanderer who creates unrest and stirs up strife, now here, now there, and works magic... we always rediscover our unconscious psychic contents in other people." Carl Jung
War, conflict, mass protests, and cults recruit and channel the traumatic residue in the shadowlands of the psyche, externalizing the unhealed, inner conflict. When the unbearable aspects of any experience are projected outward, the individual begins to embody their unique shadow, finding a new, short-term validation of long-term inner outrages. For a moment, the unbearable becomes bearable - and socially endorsed. Yet, in the aftermath, they can find themselves more forsaken, isolated and energetically depleted than ever before. The ability to recognize and support the integration of shadow material is essential for every therapist. Yet for this, we need to find spiritual ground beyond the compulsive pull of judgement, and our own inner war against suffering.
Following are five indicators of the shadow as it shows up in depth trauma work, with some suggestions of how to move through the tools of Nondual Therapy. If you are interested in the extended, in-depth training into Nondual Shadow work with Georgi, please contact [email protected].
Therapeutic Indicators of Trauma & the Shadow
2. Rage Against "Normal"
Shadowlands are coded by trauma. In trauma, whole dimensions of experience are negated: they are not allowed to be integrated into the whole. They are simply too antisocial, unpalatable and collectively indigestible. Yet for the one that has suffered, the traumatic event etches a giant question mark into the very nature of consensual reality. Just as the traumatic rupture is invalidated, so does the reaction demand the invalidation of any appearance of normality, any institution that gives structure to normality, and any relaxation into consensual togetherness.
This war against “normal” actually becomes a new “Traumal”. In this malicious grayzone of alternative facts and truths, there are many indications of hysteria, both individual and collective. There is a fearless seductive power to it, as it promises a white-wash of experiences that have been prohibited by normative society. (For example: sadistic emotions of wishing evil on the evil doers).
To intensify and justify the release of traumatic residue (hate, jealousy, murderous feelings) there is a recruitment drive to gain the social acceptance that was missed in the original traumatic wounding.
In an age of mass-media, this can lead to mass psychosis, with cult-like group identities overpowering any space for individuation. This can involve the invalidation, censorship, contempt and ridicule of any point of view that appears as different. Authentic communication is paralyzed under a mob principle of: “It’s our way or the highway.”
This polarization is accompanied with black-and-white thinking, judgmentalism, self-righteousness, scapegoating, and unconditional blame toward the “other”. Thought patterns are immensely dualistic: it’s either-or, all-or-nothing, and always an end-game.
Therapeutically, the celebration of the miracle within the here and now of the “normal”, and the encouragement of a feeling connection with the core of the common-place (even when it’s painful) can support an increasing integration of traumatic content into wholeness. This will always involve an awakening of consciousness into new perspectives.
2. The language of negation
The stuff of the shadow will be the energetic stuff of the shadow will be the most denied aspect of a traumatic experience. It will be the energy of the rapist - his arousal - that was felt during the rape as the victims own arousal. It will be in the sadistic pleasure that resonates while enduring cruelty. These areas - often but not always involving perpetration - are most therapeutically neglected and most likely to form the energetic content of the shadow.
Part of this forbidden shadow stuff literally speaks through dissociation. You will know it’s close when sentences are half spoken, and then there’s a switch to another track. It’s in that silence of the unfinished sentence.
In this dissociation from any kind of presence, there will be the sense of negation. This negating energy was originally involved in the formation of core trauma, and it repeats now.
Thought and language then forms according to what is “not” there, rather than what “is”. You will hear yourself saying “There is no...(care, soul, intelligence, justice - fill in the blank).
Sometimes, these whiplash statements about what is “not” there, have an energy of furious protest, suffused with the energetic resonance of precisely that part of the traumatic memory which has been blocked. Communication becomes sarcastic, cynical, and hides behind jokes that are not funny but dodge responsibility. You will find yourself speaking the words of the perpetrator with contempt, for example: “Yes, because they really love one another so much -” while meaning the opposite.
A way to work with this is to encourage visibility. Move to the language of affirmation. Encourage the end of the broken sentence. Bring space, honor and safety to the articulation of what “is” being felt, rather than what is “not” allowed to be felt.
3. Truth Wars, World Wars, and Wars about “Reality”
It’s a war of realities, lacking the sense of reality. The use of exaggerations, sarcasm, and toxic humor to incite rage, show the loss of an authentic voice, personal accountability.
Unhealed traumatic residue feeds the shadow persona, both individually and collectively. The shadow presents an alternative “reality” disguised as the absolute reality. It shows up in proclamations of what the reality is, what the truth is, and what we need to know. While being suffused with the atmosphere of conspiracy, it rages against an outer conspiracy. This outer conspiracy tends to be at war to dismiss, invalidate and ignore the suffering of powerless individuals. When the shadow arises to fight back from that neglected precinct of unhealed trauma, it often takes the energized form of the perpetrator, while identifying as the victim on all fronts. It is “forced” to fight (for peace), and the cause is always “valid”.
Because of the bitterness of exclusion, and the difficulty in containing old forms of abuse, it espouses language which corrupts truth with grandiose vengeance.
This includes irony, sarcasm, jokes which are more dismissive and invalidating than funny, personal insults, and switching to stories of moral outrage. Sarcasm is the language of trauma that seeks to dump the horror outward, without owning any inner basis. There is a huge deficit in responsibility and accountability either for the words spoken, or the message.
There is also a clear use of violent communication: “Always, All the time, Everyone, Never, Nowhere.” It seeks final solutions to inner sufferings that actually need resolution through a field of sober acknowledgement of the pain that has been experienced and that will always be remembered as an experience.
Notice again the compulsion to attack the basis from which the attack is being made - the war between mind and body - which is a psychic split inherent to the generation of shadow personas.
When the demand to correct one thing involves the delivery of more of the same, we know we are in a hell loop from the shadowlands. Where we want to murder others because of murder, we are in the shadowlands of our psyche.
Therapeutically, the endorsement of the client’s underlying true nature is vital to allow the dimensional shift where they are able to self-inquire. A way to get behind the rage is to honor the pain that it springs from, and to encourage the client to honor themselves enough to trace the core of that pain in their own history. This involves validating that part of their true nature that is in pain. For example, the suffering of the innocence within them, or the humiliation of their trust.
4. Hijacking of the Heart
Nondual Therapy is about how balance and harmony between two extremes can lead to a transcendence into a deeper psychic dimension of existential freedom which is full of spontaneously arising Nondual Qualities. For example, with a free psychological circulation between the opposites of war and surrender, we are able to make the dimension shift to the peace which is always here, inherent to our consciousness, wherever we are moving on the war-surrender spectrum. When we reclaim this deeper dimension of peace the movement through war and surrender is informed by a deeper intelligence - a more authentic quality enables the release of the conflict.
Where the shadow is involved, what we will see is that these Nondual Qualities such as peace, love, and freedom, become bastardized in the name of ”justice”. This rage of injustice is actually an energetic pressure seeking to explode the flow of duality with a kind of violence. What can happen then (especially when the engagement is through projection onto other peoples lives or countries far away) is that one side of the split becomes primary.
For example: War becomes the way to get peace. Peace is a product of war; or Surrender becomes a way to get peace: peace is a product of surrender. When the speaker is caught in an area of suffering and this becomes primary, then the quality becomes immensely conditional: Peace is always something for later, elsewhere. It’s abstract. It has no feeling connection. It becomes weaponized in a strategy of conflict.
When you hear Nondual Qualities like Love, or Freedom as a way to judge another, justifying the ill-intent behind your words with the hollow iconography of that quality, you are entering shadows. Therapeutically, the pathway is to find and affirm the underlying horror of senselessness, regressing backward with the client to find where their authentic sense of being was robbed of the particular quality. It is then possible to resource that same quality, working with it, rather than against it.
5. Compulsive Projection and Transference
When an individual’s sense of purpose is derived from action in a conflict far-removed from their daily life or direct experience, then they have entered a cycle of addiction where a substance outside of themselves is expected to feed a craving inside themselves. Because it involves feeling purposeful, heroic, or “right”, and often comes with temporary empowerment and a sense of belonging to a large crowd, these campaigns into the outer world feed the reward system of the brain in short sharp doses.
However, as the effect dies down, the supply from the outside needs to increase, and so the individual becomes increasingly extremist in their projections. It can almost seem as if they are wishing for greater outrage “out there” in order to ignite the dead waste of unmet trauma inside themselves.
Because disowned trauma is involved, the projection onto the world will involve the energy of shock. They will seek to shock, claim to be constantly shocked, And even fabricate stories in order to generate more shock. This obsession with the energy of shock is the shadow’s way of trying to awaken. But the awakening that is needed is not “out there”, it is deep inside themselves, in the precincts of psychic lack and traumatic neglect. Like addicts walking into rehab, there is often any place they would rather be.
Like with all work with addiction, shadow work of this kind demands a lot of patience. We can spend an hour recalling the horror of abuse from the collective field (the demonized democrats for example), into ownership of the inner sense of abuse, and location in particular traumatic memory. We can follow the victim trail, but the moment it touches that space where the individual needs to process the energy of the abuser first hand (as if they were the abuser), they will fly out again. That monster has to be “outside”.
When the projection is part of a political affiliation and is linked up with belonging to a group, it can be worthwhile to find other contexts to process the same energy, stressing that this is about honoring the individual’s experience, not invalidating it.
The build up of trust is critical. As therapists, we must have enough inner resource of peace to be able to allow the manifestation of the shadow - even when it projects toward us. It is inevitable that you - as the source of care - will be attacked as the one the source of the trauma. They will unconsciously test you to see if you can allow the monster to surface. This is actually to test if you can recognize the deeper horror of their experience. If we can stay calm in this, and retain connection with the essence of the individual, small miracles can happen over time.
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