A Guide to Shadow Symptoms

In this list, the “symptom” is what we may think or feel about a person or situation. However, in healing and becoming whole/holy, it can be very helpful to know that the symptom is not the complete truth, but is actually a projection from our Shadow. This means that we deny, ignore, or suppress our true thoughts and feelings (usually without even realizing it), so those thoughts become unconscious “shadow forms” which appear in our lives as the symptoms. When we recognize the symptom, we can then translate it back to its original shadow form (the truth in ourselves that we ignore), and with this new awareness of our true feelings, we can begin to heal.

“I looked, and looked, and this I came to see:
That what I thought was you and you,
Was really me and me.”
an old proverb

From Ken Wilber’s excellent book, No Boundary:

The Common Meaning of Various Shadow Symptoms
A Guide for Translating Symptoms Back to Their Original Shadow Forms

Symptom Its Original Shadow Form
Pressure Drive
Rejection (“Nobody likes me.”) “I wouldn’t give them the time of day!”
Guilt (“You make me feel guilty.”) “I resent your demands.”
Anxiety Excitement
Self-consciousness (“Everybody’s looking at me.”) “I’m more interested in people than I know.”
Impotence/frigidity “I wouldn’t give him/her the satisfaction.”
Fear (“They want to hurt me.”) Hostility (“I’m angry and attacking without knowing it.”)
Sad Mad!
Withdrawn “I’ll push you all away!”
I can’t. “I won’t, damnit!”
Obligation (“I have to.”) Desire (“I want to.”)
Hatred (“I despise you for X.”) Autobiographical gossip (“I dislike X in myself.”)
Envy (“You’re so great.”) “I’m a bit better than I know.”