Review: The Shadow Effect: Illuminating the Hidden Power of Your True Self

The Shadow Effect: Illuminating the Hidden Power of Your True Self
The Shadow Effect: Illuminating the Hidden Power of Your True Self by Deepak Chopra
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A strange twist on dualism and psychological metaphor.

The authors, described as “luminaries” in the cover of the book, invent their new form of dualism: light and shadow for a self (that they call “Your True Self” to boot).

Hey – good and evil, angel and devil, ‘Deva’ and ‘Asura,’ etc., are taken, and overused, so why not? Besides, such a metaphor will surely resonate with the rather large segment of humanity receptive to such differentiation.

Having split the self (that Chopda, starting his spiel, describes as a weak creation of the growing mind) into these two absolute definitions, they go on to say that wholeness requires acceptance, and unity, of these two splits they themselves defined. Duh…what? You split them in the first place…now you say join them?

The work smacks of an amateurish attempt to blend dualistic (a life force as distinct from the living mechanism) thought with a holistic life view.

But why lean on a dualistic model at all? Why not begin with a clean slate, as one author claims babies do, and build upon that with the innumerable and wonderful facets of the human persona? I think evolution favored humans with a great variety of emotions, all of which serve useful functions. Fear isn’t a bad thing, a “shadow” characteristic as the authors call it, for it is fear that often keeps one safe. Nor is anger a terrible quality, one to be suppressed, for anger gives strength to expressions, and in times of dire need, great physical strength and mental resolve as well. Fear, anger, and shame are all natural, a part of a being’s emotional makeup, a well-rounded human persona. Why split it into the two sides of a coin? Why not look at it as the multiple facets of a polished gem of a mind?

Besides, the authors’ use of ‘shadow’ as a metaphor for what they consider undesirable characteristics in a human persona doesn’t seem quite appropriate – isn’t it light that causes a shadow? Without light, without such reference, there would not be a shadow. And who is to say light is “good?” Doesn’t light burn, and dazzle? And doesn’t a shadow comfort one seeking shade?

The work does contain tolerable insights into psychology, and numerous references (read name dropping) to other “luminaries” and their thinking. But ‘collective unconscious,’ and the ‘shadow living in the collective unconscious,’ seems a stretch too far. With all due respect to C. J. Jung, who no doubt came up with brilliant insights within the limitations of knowledge available in his day, his concepts and ideas have had their utility in human learning, and have been transcended. The authors’ reliance upon such dated concepts to support their unique differentiation of the self is unwarranted and unworthy.

Not a book for diligent researchers into human psychology and self-help.

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About Rian Nejar

Rian Nejar is a mid-60's child from India. He trained and worked as an engineer in India, lived briefly in the Middle East, and arrived in America in the early 90's. After a Master’s degree in electrical engineering in America, he worked as an academic instructor, engineer, entrepreneur, and technical writer over the two decades since. Humbling and Humility is the first heartfelt written expression of his varied life experiences. He lives and writes in the Southwest United States.
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