Book Review
by Gloria Davenport


Romancing The Shadow
by Connie Zweig and Steve Wolf

"We spend our life until we're twenty deciding what parts of ourselves to put in the bag, and we spend the rest of our lives trying to get them out again."

~Robert Bly 


It was 1997 when Connie Zweig and Steve Wolf (both Jungian-oriented therapists) offered us a way out of Robert Bly's bag.  I didn't discover Romancing the Shadow until last spring when it came out in paperback.  I was so impressed that it became an immediate supplemental text for my Advanced Class on the Enneagram.  How better to recognize the shadow paradox and the tensions between our split selves?  How better to integrate the conscious and the unconscious, open up space and energy for individuation and transformation, and start to dissolve the ego defenses than through shadow-work?

Here is a clear, descriptive practical guide - a possible substitute in a culture that offers no initiation ceremonies for acknowledging, owning, and shaping the shadow to reclaim our soul and become whole.  Romancing the Shadow encourages us, in a sense, to have a subversive love affair with our dark side while, at the same time, attempting to shake us out of our self-deceptions.

Opening the book, we're grabbed instantly by a powerful introductory chapter.  Specialized chapters follow asking us to "honor, respect, and welcome" the shadow in all our relationships: parent-child, marriage, divorce, in work, in friendships, and through all stages of life.  The book closes with a "Who's Who in Greek Myth," detailed reference notes, and a practical handbook of self-observation tips on shadow-work which enables us to identify the repetitive patterns, compulsions, and extroverted self-contempt that sabotage our ego-ideal intentions.

Uncovering the hidden secret shames and the gap between who we are and who we think we are is, as the authors say, like "mining the dark recesses of our human psyche."  Yet, Ken Wilber asserts in Zweig's other book, Meeting the Shadow, that "we are duped into equating the negative (dark) with the undesirable."  The result? We shut out half of who we are.  Only integrating the light and dark makes us whole.  In this reviewer's opinion, Romancing the Shadow offers the tools.

 

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