Is conscious emotive criticism of others really just unconscious criticism of ourselves?
Here I will explain a line of thought demonstrating that those who emotively criticize others are necessarily hypocrites.
First, to sum up the axioms: the Jungian model of the mind has three elements:
- The persona ('mask'), which is how we choose to project ourselves on the world
- The self, which is Kantian in nature and consists of one's memories of self apperception,
- An ultimately unknowable fragment of the collective unconsciousness called 'the shadow,' manifest as dream states and unconsciously motivating the persona.
Because one tends to reject or remain ignorant of the least desirable aspects of one's personality, the shadow is largely negative. The shadow merges with imperceptible division into the collective unconscious. Hence in absolute terms, the shadow is everything of which a person is not fully conscious, but about which a person is aware of the nature of others' minds.
The shadow is like a bottomless bag. The individual self attempts to construct a rational model of realty, from which successful results are pushed up into the persona. Unsuccessful results cause 'cognitive dissonance, that is, 'a mental stress of discomfort from attempting to hold conflicting beliefs or ideas.'
As we encounter facts and events causing cognitive dissonance, we shove the implications deeper into the 'bottomless bag' of our shadow. The greater the cognitive dissonance, the deeper we push them down. The deeper we push facts and events irreconcilable with our persona down, the more emotional is our response when the rational persona is confronted with a conflict needing those buried truths to resolve.
By contrast with Freud's 'id,' which was formed from trauma during childhood in response to sexual and toilet problems, the shadow is not a static predefined element of the mind, but rather continually evolving. Most people are too involved with the persona to understand their own shadow at all until in their 50s, but some younger people are capable of appreciating the significance of the model. I should state, I was rather insulted myself when I was younger that Jungians dismissed me as unable to understand my own shadow,but now I feel they may actually have had a point.
Non-Aristotelianism in the Jungian Shadow
So it is, according to Jung, "the shadow, in being instinctive and irrational, is prone to psychological projection, in which a perceived personal inferiority is recognised as a perceived moral deficiency in someone else." (wikipedia)
Hence, when any individual criticizes another, especially if in an insulting way, then one obtains an insight into the moral conflicts they cannot resolve in their own persona. They are unconsciously aware that their persona is inadequate, and the emotional response appears as ridicule of others,which the scorners themselves do not recognize as revealing their own inadequacies. The scoffing, emotional impatience, hostile objection, and insults are all conscious criticisms of others produced by an unconscious criticism of ourselves.
This is because the persona is our attempt to project ourselves rationally on the world; but the shadow, in being that which we rationally deny as valid, contains all that is irrational, for which we desire a rational explanation but cannot produce. All events which do not fit within our desired concepts of perfect love, perfect justice, and perfect order appears in the shadow as denied frustration.
These frustrations with the rationality of others, which we cannot reconcile with our own rationality, unconsciously pop up into into the persona as emotional objections to others; but the emotional objection is only apparent. The real objection is in fact with our own inability to reason rationally about the world all people share, and interact with the shared reality in the same way.
But the shared reality contains both their truth and ours, which ultimately must coexist. Most importantly, according to Jung, we cannot ever ultimately separate our shadow from the universal unconscious, and so there is no real division between ourselves and others whose persona may significantly and materially differ with our own.
Because there is no absolute division, we necessarily reveal our own hypocrisy by criticising others. the more emotionally charged the hostility to other interpretations, the more problematic is the unconscious fracture in our own mind which caused us to react so emotionally.
Thus in situations where no empirical resolution of differing views is possible, it will always remain impossible to define, in any Aristotelian sense, whether an objection to another's mind is true or false. We can only know that, by thinking such objections are absolutely true or false with any emotional reaction, we are necessarily open to accusation of hypocrisy. The only fact we cannot really deny is that we may be wrong, but unable to know it.
The deduction from Jungian thought may appear to be thus: the strength of emotional reaction is an indication of the amount of hypocrisy. And that may be reasonable within a shared framework of reality that opposing groups have access.