COVID 19 and the Shadow Archetype


My blog is about archetypes and using awareness and identification of archetypes for emotional integration and spiritual awareness, wholeness. Carl Jung created a psychological theory sometimes called analytic or depth psychology. Central to this theory is the existence of a collective unconscious that humans share.  It is an invisible, energetic dimension where archetypes reside.  Archetypes are patterns of being that humans manifest and wisdom of solutions. The collective unconscious is a repository of human knowledge, and the connection that each of us as humans have is usually unconscious. Humans are influenced by the collective unconscious outside of conscious awareness. By consciously working with archetypes, humans open this connection to find power and the wisdom of these patterns.

Jung explained that there are three main archetypes, animus (male), anima (female) and the shadow.  In my book, Archetypal Imagery, I define an archetype as an energy pattern or a way of being:  hero, seductress, teacher, healer for example.  But as an energy pattern it could even be a symbol of a Celtic knot.  But for purposes of this blog I stay with Jung’s basic three.  That’s a nice sound, right? the basic three.

The shadow stands out for me as the archetype of COVID 19.  The shadow is what is unknown. Hiding in the shadow is what humans and society deny about themselves and itself.  What’s in the shadow is revealed about what is denied about the self and society.  In the foundational work on Jung’s thinking, Man and His Symbols, the authors note that what resides in the shadow are…

“unreal fantasies, schemes and plots, carelessness and cowardice, inordinate love of money and possessions” (pg. 171)

This, yes this is what the U.S. is experiencing during the COVID 19 pandemic.  What is coming out of the shadow archetype are the basic inequities of the U.S. society…

-some have propelled a fantasy that the virus will go away magically

-schemes and plots of racism and poverty, people of color and poor people are dying at three times the rate of those with resources

-the love of money has prompted the federal government from doing national policies to suppress the virus

Opening the shadow to allow and accept what is the COVID 19, the shadow, can unleash the human potential of awareness and acceptance. If humans can look unflinchingly at the devastation of COVID 19, that which has been denied can then integrated and healed. The U.S. society does not need fantasies, schemes, cowardice or the love of money.  By looking into this shadow, the U.S. society can embrace those suffering with COVID 19 and use this awareness. Health care can be created as a human right for all.  The love of money can be replaced by the love for equity.


Jung, C.G, von Franz, M.-L., Henderson, J.L., Jacobi, J. & Jaffe, A. (1964) Man and his symbols. London: Aldus Books.

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