The new book by Dr. Keith Witt is now available.

Why is it that despite our best intentions, most of us find it so difficult to change?
Why do some of us have superior judgment in critical situations and others of us make horrible choices?
Why do I feel like a worthwhile person some of the time and a worthless person occasionally?

The answer is Shadow.

In his latest book, Dr. Keith Witt shines a powerful light on the unconscious forces that drive us, for better or for worse, and shows us how our Shadows are key to real growth and transformation.

So What, Exactly, Is Shadow?

Shadow, by definition, is everything in us we can’t see—everything we are not conscious of. Our Shadow self monitors hundreds of thousands of inputs from the world and our body/mind systems process the information and constantly send constructive and destructive messages into our conscious awareness in the forms of sensations, feelings, impulses, stories, and thoughts. This Shadow material is generated in less than a tenth of a second, and our conscious selves become more or less aware of it after one or two seconds, leaving our conscious awareness always one step behind the non-conscious flood of Shadow material.

Expanding Our Shadows, Transforming Our Selves

Contrary to many views on shadow, which tend to focus on its negative aspects, Dr. Witt provides a surprisingly positive view of our unconscious. In fact, from his view, personal development is largely growth of our Shadow selves. While our unconscious holds within it many destructive impulses, thoughts, and feelings, it is also home to our deepest senses of self, our creative intuitions, morality, intimacy, vulnerability, and spirituality. As we learn more about our unconscious selves, we learn to align with its more wholesome aspects, paving the way for growth and transformation.

In Shadow Light, Dr. Witt offers a wealth of research, ideas, and practices to help us grow our Shadow selves and accelerate personal evolution. He explores the role that Shadow plays in many dimensions of our lives, dedicating chapters to marriage, sexuality, parenthood, violence, creativity, and spirituality.

The new book by Dr. Keith Witt is now available.

Shadow Light is about growing our unconscious Shadow selves.

Shadow is the sum total of our learning, drives, habits, values, preferences, and needs flooding constantly up from our non-conscious selves to our conscious selves.

Our Shadow material can be constructive or destructive depending upon circumstances and how we’re wired.
Attending to the interface between conscious awareness and Shadow material in certain ways can literally grow our unconscious Shadow selves to help us make good decisions, feel at peace in the world, have more joyful relationships, and to develop progressively more compassionate understanding and deeper consciousness.

Shadow Light: Illuminations at the Edge of Darkness is a marvelous book, thoroughly covering this fascinating topic of the human Shadow, and, unlike many approaches to our unconscious potential, pointing out—and explaining—both its constructive capacities as well as its destructive ones.  And further, it offers straightforward exercises and practices for converting those destructive aspects into constructive talents—and does so across a broad range of human activities, from work to relationships to parenting.  Highly recommended for professional and lay persons alike—absolutely superb offering!” 

~ Ken Wilber
Integral Meditation


witt19rcDr. Keith Witt is a Licensed Psychologist, teacher, and author who has lived and worked in Santa Barbara, CA. for over forty-five years.

Dr. Witt is the founder of The School of Love where he offers his School of Love Lecture Series, blogs, Therapist in the Wild webseries, and Integral Perspectives audios and videos on health/love/relationship/sexuality/spirituality/development/psychotherapy related topics.

Keith’s work has explored Integrally Informed Psychotherapy, intimacy, human development, spirituality, and sexuality yielding six books (Integral Mindfulness, Waking Up, Sessions, The Attuned Family, The Gift of Shame, and Shadow Light), three TEDx talks, and lectures and classes which he has taught across the U.S. Waking Up and its companion volume, Sessions, are two of the first texts on Integrally Informed Psychotherapy. His popular audio class, Loving Completely, is offered through Integral Life. Keith has conducted over fifty-five thousand therapy sessions, led many groups, and has been a contributor to Integral Life and the Journal of Integral Theory and Practice.

In presentations around the country–including Integral Life’s What’s Next, Integral Theories Conferences, and his ongoing series, The Shrink and the Pundit with Jeff Salzman — Keith has explored love, intra and interpersonal relationships, and development from multiple perspectives, weaving neuroscience, Integral theory, wisdom traditions, and numerous forms of psychotherapy into a coherent cosmology of love and development.

“Shadow Light is one of the wisest books on our unconscious life to emerge in recent years.  We live in an age in which individuals, even nations, are whipsawed back and forth by the influence of our personal and collective shadows, creating chaos, confusion, and unhappiness. Understanding our shadow — both its destructive and constructive aspects — is a crucial factor not just for personal psychological maturation, but also for our survival as a species.  In this important book, psychologist Keith Witt draws on evidence unavailable to Freud and Jung.  The result is a blueprint for our time — for deeper meaning, joy, fulfillment, even survival.  Highly recommended.”

~ Larry Dossey, MD
Author:  ONE MIND:  How Our Individual Mind Is Part of a Greater Consciousness and Why It Matters


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Shadow is the sum total of our learning, drives, habits, values, preferences, and needs flooding constantly up from our non-conscious selves to our conscious selves. It is what we do not consciously know or realize about our experience, impulses, stories, and self, but what constantly affects us profoundly.
Our Shadow material can be constructive or destructive depending upon circumstances and how we’re wired.
Attending to the interface between conscious awareness and Shadow material in certain ways can literally grow our unconscious Shadow selves to help us make better decisions, feel more at peace in the world, and to have progressively more compassionate understanding and deeper consciousness.
This book is primarily about growing our unconscious Shadow selves. We have instincts to grow our unconscious and to avoid change and risk–this creates inner conflicts which inhibit the growth of our unconscious Shadow selves. Knowing all this and what knowledge and practices best resolve such conflicts and accelerate the growth of our implicit Shadow self is what this book is all about.
Every since I was a kid I’ve been fascinated by the interfaces between conscious awareness and our unconscious self. This only intensified as I became a martial artist, psychotherapist, husband, father, and spiritual seeker.

My personal experience plus my studies and over forty-three years of clinical practice have clearly demonstrated to me that if we learn to pay a certain kind of attention — attuned accepting awareness reaching for compassionate understanding–we can consciously access and influence the constant flow of rich imagery, sensations, ideas, memories and moral discernments flooding up from our Shadow selves. This creates healthy bridges between major aspects of our body/mind/self/relational systems. Such bridges grow our Shadow selves and keep revealing new perspectives and insights about our past/present/future, our relationships, and the world–they accelerate our development on most developmental lines. They are illuminations at the edge of darkness.

When I described this project to Russ Volkmann of Integral Publishers, he said, “the title should be Shadow Light!” and I immediately knew he was right. So, the title became, Shadow Light: Illuminations at the Edge of Darkness.

Most writing I’ve reviewed on Shadow material leans towards the destructive–the dark unexpressed desires, secrets, and forbidden images and memories that Freud thought comprised the libidinous caldron of the Id. All this is of course part of Shadow, especially destructive Shadow, but an emphasis on the hidden destructive misses the obvious. Our unconscious Shadow self is genius!

Incredible amounts of information processing and decision making go on in our non-conscious Shadow selves. Profound wisdom and infinite love are there informing our values and sense of self. This is constructive Shadow that we need to guide and support us through the challenges of life and multiple relationships with others and ourselves.

This book is about developing perceptual systems to sense constructive Shadow and amplify its effects in healing, loving, and navigating our lives, while also learning how to sense destructive Shadow and dialysize it into constructive Shadow. This literally accelerates the growth of our Shadow selves — what neuroscientist/psychoanalyst Allan Schore calls our adaptive unconscious.

Humans are the story telling species. With each successive wave of awakening consciousness, humans became more firmly enmeshed in the individual and collective stories of their individual lives, their tribes, and ultimately their nations, the world, and the entire Kosmos.

Our drives and instincts combine with the human experience to create archetypal forms like the Hero’s Journey, the Warrior, the Man of Wisdom, the Divine Mother, and the Woman of Wisdom. These are universal in human cultures and have been formalized and ritualized in the myths, legends, and religions of the world. Each of our unconscious Shadow selves contains a unique blend of personal and universal figures, stories, and forms that influence us constantly through the feelings, impulses, and stories that our Shadow selves generate constantly.

We sleep and our brain mind systems offer dreams–stories–to explain and guide our lives. We wake and spend up to 20% of our day in daydreams–stories–created by our Shadow selves to solve problems and address desires and drives.

Understanding our personal and cultural archetypes and influences helps us better understand ourselves, our cultures, and our histories. Such understanding leads to more conscious choices we can make in conjunction with our nonconscious Shadow selves–choices informed by our personal archetypes and stations on the epic journeys of our lives.

Absolutely! Everything is relationships with ourselves, others, and world, in the past/present/future, waking and sleeping, played out in our ongoing experiences of who we are, what we want, and what we’re doing.

Our nonconscious Shadow selves inform every instant of our lives in every relationship. Shadow determines meaning, value, and moral valence of all our experiences. These determinations arise naturally to help us navigate each moment, and most human moments are experienced as social.

When we’re with others we have ideas and projections of how they regard us–with approval, disapproval, or indifference. When we’re alone, we feel an invisible audience of others considering and judging us as we go about our day. We constantly observe ourselves with more or less approval, disapproval, pleasure, or alarm.

Our intimate relationships and sexuality are especially important and highly structured by our drives and social conditioning. Much suffering comes from Shadow shame, guilt, and defenses around intimacy and sexuality. Incredible joy comes from secure attachments, fulfillment in our romantic relationships, and safety.

Understanding Shadow components of intimacy and sexuality helps us grow throughout the lifespan, and also guides us in healing any wounds or blocks we might have programmed through development. Supporting constructive Shadow and dialysizing destructive Shadow accelerates the growth of our adaptive unconscious and supports intimacy and sexuality of all kinds.

This last summer I gave some talks and recorded some classes on an Integral approach to self love, which I’ve tied in to our various stages of moral development. Currently I’m just finishing filming some teachings on how small and large traumas are central to our development and how to best handle them when they show up–as they always do in human lives.

This summer I was invited to give a keynote talk on Intimacy and Longevity at a Longevity conference in Portugal this coming April, and am excited about using to opportunity to bring a number of ideas together about development, intimacy, sexuality, Shadow, and how relationships can be optimized across the lifespan.

“Much has been written on the topic of shadow and the unconscious, but no one has yet taken an Integral view of it. Here Keith Witt offers this comprehensive perspective and does so with his usual blend of joy, practicality, and wide-ranging experience as a psychotherapist. Read this book with care, and it will serve to propel your conscious self-awareness in all areas of your life.”

~ Mark Forman, PhD
Author: A Guide to Integral Psychotherapy

Contact info for Dr. Keith:

Office phone: 805-569-1102
Mailing address: P.O. Box 3097, Santa Barbara, 93130