The dialog within the fourth episode of Persona 4 is, I dare say, cheesy with all those shounen-ish (I’m talking about you, Brotag) lines and whatever, but it is a compromise much needed by the show to move forward and give Yukiko a much needed confidence boost. However, though the dialog could have been better, the fight scene was downright gorgeous, with the exception of the first part, which was also very cheesy. That’s it for the episode impressions. Let’s move on, shall we?
The line: “I am the Shadow; the True Self” is always spoken by the Shadow counterparts of the P4 gang. In philosophy, the Self is an idea – a concept of individuality. The Self defines what we think, what we say, and what we do. In other words, the Self is the individual’s personality.
Of course, as far as personality goes, there are some facets of our personality that we show to society (the Persona) and some others that we keep to ourselves (the Shadow). It is said that for the most part, the existence of the Shadow is kept in the subconscious, unknown even to the individual in question.
The case is no different for our P4 cast. Each and every one of the party members (save Brotag who doesn’t have it), seem to be unaware of their shadow. You can say that the Shadows of the people that get thrown inside the Midnight Channel are simply entities that draw out and provide evidence of the person’s inner anxieties and personal inferiority.
One of the psychological defense mechanisms, which we use to protect ourselves from emotional distress caused by threats to our ego (like your Shadow pointing out the flaws in your personality) or various other reasons, is denial. Denial is a very primitive form of defense, as one just deals with the conflict at hand by simply denying all or certain aspects of an unpleasant fact. Viewers should probably be already used to the characters denying their Shadow selves, making the Shadow bigger and more imposing… I should probably post something about this later.
But what’s really important is that we grow out of such primitive defenses and employ more mature ways to deal with our anxieties. One of the ways one can do this is through Sublimation, or the conscious act of transforming negative emotions into more productive actions, and can lead to the conversion of the original impulse that led to those negative emotions. We see this immediately in effect in the case of Chie. In episode 4, Chie’s motivation for saving Yukiko became purer and more “acceptable” for society’s standards than what her Shadow claimed in the previous episode.
For Yukiko, it’s not really much of a transformation of negative emotions as much as it is a realization and a conscious manifestation of Yukiko’s inner desires which are still questionable with respect to society’s standards. Yukiko constantly employed psychological projection as her defense mechanism, or relating personal shortcomings on another being – a bird in Yukiko’s case (usually, the victim of projection is another person). Like the others, she eventually had to use denial when she was faced with her Shadow. Yukiko eventually accepted her Shadow (assimilation) with the help of Chie (I REALLY WANT TO SEE YURI HERE).
Still, we can say that in Yukiko’s, as well as the rest of the party’s case, it is the assimilation of the Shadow, which means reconciliation with it followed by a constant process of emotional “healing” for the individual – much like how the game handled their social links.
I’m really enjoying all the nice bits of psychology in P4. Very, very nice stuff.