February 02, 2020

The Donald Shadow

The Donald Shadow

Before we discuss how Donald Trump is our “shadow,” we need to define two concepts used in psychology – shadow and projection. 

A simple definition of the shadow is our “dark side.” Our shadow contains the hidden parts of our persona, which we want to ignore, avoid, and repress. Carl Jung, the eminent Swiss psychiatrist, originated the concept of the shadow to describe those elements in our unconscious, which we do not want to acknowledge. We keep our shadows suppressed, so that others do not see our “dark side.” Jung insists that we all have a shadow.

Lurking in the closet of our personality are our personal ghosts, which we hide from the world – our fears, hatred, insecurities, covetousness. We not only hide our shadow from others, but we also hide it from ourselves.

Critics of Donald Trump describe him as uncouth, boorish, ego-maniac, prideful, narcissistic, mud-slinger, trash-talking, seeking the spotlight, and headline-grabbing. Critics sit in judgment of The Donald. They find it easy to point their fingers at Trump to criticize his failings, flaws, and foibles, of which they disapprove. 

Carl Jung cautions us that we should be careful of where we point a finger, because we are exposing more about ourselves than we are about the target we are pointing at. Jung describes our finger-pointing behavior, as “projection.” He observes that we project onto others those suppressed skeletons we harbor within our own dark side. An example would be a fundamentalist preacher who points his finger at an adulterer and judges the sinner as an evil-doer. The preacher is projecting his own covetous desires, which rise up from his shadow to sit in judgment of the sinner.

Projection is the transference of our suppressed shadow elements upon another person. When we see another person acting out a behavior or attitude that we disapprove of, it can actually be our own unwelcome shadow peeking out from our dark closet deep within our psyche.

With the “shadow” and “projection” in mind, we can analyze the source of the criticism dumped upon The Donald. Some of the common criticisms that are hurled at him are:

When I call The Donald “uncouth,” am I actually projecting my own uncouth, name-bashing behavior which I suppress, yet manifest, when judging others, at the same time judging myself as the pristine angel I am?

To label The Donald a “mud-slinger” is to project my shadow, which I attempt to deny, of bad-mouthing anyone and everyone in order to make me look better and feel superior to those trash-talkers.

When I criticize The Donald for “seeking out the spotlight” do I project onto him my own shadow desire to escape from the dark corner I have kept myself in all my life?

What about when The Donald blurts out some word or phrase that is not politically correct? My criticism of him bubbles up from my own shadow, where I resent being told to use politically correct words, but am too indoctrinated by today’s GroupThink to challenge it.

How many times have politicians and media thugs screamed for The Donald to apologize for some word he used? Watch for those who protest the most. The projection of their shadows is yelling even louder to expose their own deep-rooted shame for debasing words they have hurled at friends and foes.

Through this process of exposing the shadow and projecting our shadow upon others, American voters have arrived in a place where Donald Trump has become the target for a mass shadow projection. A commonly shared shadow has arisen. The mass media became immediately preoccupied with Donald Trump as soon as he burst forth on the political scene as a candidate for president of the United States of America. First, the mass media released its own corporate shadow upon the outsider, billionaire, TV star, branded, independent, successful, businessman.

The media’s shadow is bound up by a set of beliefs which include these shadow elements: control the agenda, control the message, adhere to acceptable GroupThink, demand adulation, arbitrator of what is news, self-defined status as the ultimate authority, and corporate voice of acceptable thought and behavior.

Projected onto The Donald the media’s shadow defines and explains the spin, the subterfuge, and the lies, which are reflected in the media’s coverage of Donald Trump. The Donald phenomenon challenges the media’s self-declared position atop the regal throne.

The media’s shadow envelopes Donald Trump’s campaign in an aura of mistrust, outrage, and scorn and it clashes against the public’s shadow, which projects a contrary psyche from its unconscious. The public relishes The Donald’s independence from the establishment, from the media, and from the oppressive rule of the federal government. No more business as usual. A breath of fresh air. A contrast to failed policies. A counterpoint to MindThink and political correctness. A resurrection of common sense.

Jung urges patients to embrace their shadows. Recognize that it is an integral part of the whole persona. Acknowledge its presence and its power. Work at becoming familiar with the dark side. Jung advises that healing and recovery can come about, not by rejecting the shadow within, but by holding the shadow within the cup of one’s hands.

In summary, The Donald has become a target, a punching bag, a David and Goliath wrapped into one, a holy grail, a saint, a demon, a light on a hill. He is a blank screen upon which each person can project his or her own movie.

When the observer claims that “The Donald is this,” or “The Donald is that,” what one is really saying is that “I am this,” or “I am that.”

Keep in mind that, when you hear your words coming out of your mouth, it may be your shadow talking.