Sacred Laws of Psyche: The Law of Entropy


We know that the mask of the unconscious is not rigid—it reflects the face we turn towards it. Hostility lends it a threatening aspect, friendliness softens its features. Carl Jung. Psychology and Alchemy, CW 12, par. 29.

For not knowing about the unconsciousness means that one has deviated, one is not in harmony with it, and therefore it works against one. Carl Jung. Visions: Notes of the Seminar Given in 1930-1934, Vol. I, p. 405.

The law of entropy says that when opposites remain isolated from one another, any disorder lurking within them remains constant or increases. The ultimate result is chaos. Although this law originates in physics, it also has application to psychology.

Essentially, entropy is the force of the unconscious on us. As Jung notes, we can be friendly toward our unconscious self—for example, by working with our dreams, in which case we will grow psychologically and spiritually—or we can ignore it. Unconsciousness is a state of psychological entropy. Avoiding uncertainty and unpredictability only perpetuates our suffering, chaos, and radical uncertainty. You might ask, if we want to become healthy, mature individuals, why would we ignore our dreams and other influences of the unconscious? M. Scott Peck explains in this except from his book, The Road Less Traveled:

Ultimately, there is only one impediment [to spiritual growth], and that is laziness. If we overcome laziness, all the other impediments will be overcome. If we do not overcome laziness, none of the others will be hurdled. So this is also a book about laziness. In examining discipline, we were considering the laziness of attempting to avoid necessary suffering, or taking the easy way out. In examining love we were also examining the fact that nonlove is the unwillingness to extend one’s self. Laziness is love’s opposite. Spiritual growth is effortful, as we have been reminded again and again. We are now at a position from which we can examine the nature of laziness in perspective and realize that laziness is the force of entropy as it manifests itself in the lives of all of us.

For example, the longer we ignore our shadow—which lives in our unconscious self—the more apt it is to wreak havoc. Unfortunately, the Western world does not recognize the shadow, either in individuals or in societies. So instead of addressing the roots of our problems, we apply band-aid solutions. We don’t understand where our strong emotions come from so we blame our partners and hurt them with our words and behaviors. Then we try to smooth it over with an apology or special night out. Then it happens again.

Preachers talk about loving your neighbor but don’t know how to help you love yourself. Politicians make laws to make abortions illegal while cutting off social welfare funds for parents who don’t have enough money to feed the children they already have. School shooters are sent to prison for life because of problems at home that no one ever addressed. Wealthy couples make generous donations at charity galas in the midst of divorces and hope to find someone new who will understand them. At best, we contain certain problems for a while. At worst, the problems escalate and we get used to the new normal by working at two jobs and putting more locks on the doors.

We cannot change the physical entropy of matter or the deterioration of our minds and bodies. Or of our civilizations. But the life in our psyche doesn’t have to end in chaos. The work of exploring our unconscious is instructive and freeing. It is a change of direction that leads to coming into reality and accepting the truth about ourselves. Instead of finding chaos, we find meaning.

If everything in existence were substantial and permanent, no one could grow old or learn anything; nothing could change, either for better or for worse; nothing could be improved, because there would be no room for it.  The negative


Image Credits:  Entropy, John Beard Collection. Entropy, Heather W. Ernst, Fine Art America.

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Note:  Dear Friends, I’ve had some problems posting this today. I made a couple of mistakes and when I went to correct them I lost two comments and my responses to them.  I’d like to post them here so you can see them.  Hopefully, any additional comments will appear as usual!

Comment #1:

Jordan Vilchez
1 approved
So grateful for this. Without knowing much about shadow work, this post gifted me with the desire to exist on deeper levels with myself and others. Words that come to mind are honesty, personal responsibility, and unfathomable deep love.There is a beauty in the kind of immersion you speak of, and a true alignment with life that we may never know while we exist within our easier entropic state which is largely the norm. Thank you

My Response:

Thank you, Jordan. Yes, being honest with ourselves and accepting personal responsibility for our flaws does lead to unfathomable deep love if we do the work. Dreamwork is one way. Journaling on a regular basis is another. And meditation is very helpful for some. I’ve done the first two for over 30 years and still feel a powerful need for it. Little baby steps lead to bigger strides. Doing my best. Thank you for letting me know that you are too. I’m so glad to know this was helpful. Jeanie

Comment #2:

The shadowy parts of us … yes, not easy to engage with.
A guided imagery I shared some years ago:

My response:

I love this, Ashen. It’s a perfect guided imagery for getting acquainted with your shadow. I recommend it to everyone who reads this. Thank you! Jeanie

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5 Responses

  1. Thanks Jeanie. And Ashen. Ah that other – who patiently waits in the wings – for the invitation to be seen as a welcome guest. Love, Susan

  2. Hi Susan. I love the idea of the ‘other’ waiting to be welcomed. And sometimes not so patiently if we ignore it long enough! Love, Jeanie

  3. An excellent teaching level to remember, my lovely teacher. Thank you. I just add a quote by Carl Jung:
    “How can I be substantial if I do not cast a shadow? I must have a dark side also If I am to be whole.”

    1. Thanks for the quote! Exactly! It can take us a long time to believe we have a shadow but once we see it and admit it to ourselves, we automatically become less defensive and a little more compassionate toward others! 🙂

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