Jordan Peterson on Developing the Dark Side

The following is my transcription of part of a Jordan Peterson Q&A session during which he discusses the importance of “developing the dark side” to overall personality development. I believe it is relevant for today’s Christians, who tend to conflate emotional repression, submissiveness, and stultifying orderliness with virtuosity. His exploration of the definition of “meek” is especially pertinent.

I tried to make the transcription as close to verbatim as possible (with exception of fillers, such as ‘uh’ and ‘um’), but the headings and subheadings are my own. They are included to facilitate navigation within the content. Jordan Peterson is an excellent speaker, and a lot of nuance is lost in the translation from video to written word. I encourage you to view the excerpt itself.


What would be a practical approach for developing your shadow?

Jungian Psychology

That’s a good one. Let’s do a little review of Jungian psychology. If you want to know about this, the proper source is Carl Jung’s Collected Works, Volume 9. There’s two parts of Volume 9, A and B, published as separate texts. Volume 9 is called “Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious” and the other is called “Ion.”

In “Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious” there’s a good discussion of the persona and the shadow. The persona, …, a good way of thinking about it is, you watch all those rom-coms, where there’s always a beta male guy who’s being real friendly and always failing miserably with women, because basically he’s lying to himself and to them. He’s a persona. A persona is the face that you show to the world when you’re trying to pretend, and to convince yourself and others that you’re, I would say, “harmless,” but you could say, “a good person.” But a good person isn’t “harmless.” A good person is capable of anything, but is willing to hold that in abeyance.

I read this interesting commentary a while ago about a statement by Christ in the New Testament, and the statement is generally interpreted as “The meek shall inherit the earth.” But, I was looking up the multiple translations of the word “meek,” and “meek” is actually derived from a Greek word, because some of the original forms of the Bible were in Greek. And that word didn’t exactly mean “meek,” it meant something like, “those who have weapons and the ability to use them, but determine to keep them sheathed, will inherit the world.” And that means that people that are capable of force, lets say, but decide not to use it, are in the proper moral position.

Nietzsche commented on this a fair bit…