Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Shadow Knows: Jungian Psychology and Final Fantasy IV

I've been doing a bit of reading in Jungian psychology. Jung, of course, is well known for his relationship with Freud and his unique perspective into the human psyche. If I'm reading Jung correctly, the Swiss psychologist asserts that various personalities make up the fabric of the human psyche. In order to define these “personalities” Jung used archetypal language. One of these personalities is the Shadow.

This personality represents the darker aspects of the unconscious and presents itself in divers guises like a demon or foreigner. However, the Shadow represents those aspects of our personality that creates guilt, denial or projection – or so says the Short Introduction to Jung. Jung believed that the Western obsession with morality created a large Shadow that would ultimately threaten society. Once more, on a personal level, projection often leads to hostility towards other undesirable persons despite the fact that the Shadow belongs to the accusers. In order to create wholeness, the Shadow needs to be brought to consciousness. The Shadow is not necessarily “bad”, but it needs to be acknowledged and controlled. I found a good example of this in Square-Enix's game Final Fantasy IV and its sequel The After Years.

In Final Fantasy IV and the After Years, 2 major characters confront their own Shadow in a mirror chamber. One character is the protagonist Cecil Harvey. The other character is Kain Highwind. Nevertheless, both characters resolve their issues in drastically different ways.

In the original game, Cecil leads Baron's Red Wings, an air fleet comprised of specially designed airships. The game opens with Cecil leading his fleet in order to steal a crystal from a town. This is done to bolster the power of the Kingdom of Baron. Cecil, however, becomes riddled with guilt over obeying this command. To make a long story short, he eventually begins a quest to find redemption. Furthermore, he needs to face his Shadow, which he defeats passively (just defend and heal and you'll be all right). Nonetheless, in the After Years Cecil becomes controlled by dark forces and must defeat his Shadow once again. The objectives appears to be obliteration of the Shadow ( see here:; nevertheless, the first attempt apparently failed. Even Kain observes that the return of the Shadow isn't really unprecedented, and Cecil along with his family need to defeat the Shadow again (see here: With that, we can turn to Kain.

Kain is probably the coolest character in the game and the most flawed. In the first game he spends most of his time under the influence of dark forces. However, we learn that the dark forces utilize existing angst and jealousies in order to manipulate him. Eventually, he is freed from that control, but he is left with the need to expunge himself of his Shadow. Unfortunately, things don't go over so well for Kain. His Shadow breaks loose and tries to abduct Cecil's wife Rosa, whom Kain also loves, and murder Cecil. Then, the other Kain (we'll call him Persona Kain) catches up with Shadow Kain. The 2 face off and Persona Kain defeats the Shadow; nevertheless, Persona Kain does not destroy the Shadow. Rather, he acknowledges his Shadow's existence and owns him. At this point Kain becomes whole (represented by becoming a Holy Dragoon). Then, a voice proclaims that justice has been done (see here:

I think a lot can be gained from these insights. Many Christians have grown up in very conservative homes, which tend to be highly moralistic. Moreover, morality can often lead to both condemning attitudes and hypocrisy. For Jung, the emphasis on Persona masks and hides the Shadow. This gives the Shadow power over out unconscious. I believe that if we are more honest about our own personal demons we might be better equipped to handle some of the issues facing American Christianity and politics today.

 Matthew Jimenez received his BA in English Literature at Biola University. He received his MAT in Theology and Culture at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA. He currently teaches Sunday School at Calvary Community Church in Torrance, CA.  

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