Context: Foster child learns to manipulate people to make them love her. She meets a kind mother for once, and she doesn't need to revert to her 'psychopathic' (for lack of a better word) side. I am thinking 'alter ego'.

  • Nothing really wrong with "darker side".
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 18 '15 at 12:57
  • shade of grey?
    – Kris
    Apr 18 '15 at 14:33

You may use pathological:

  • extreme in a way that is not normal or that shows a mental problem or an illness. (M-W)

or also refer to dark side of her personality.

  • We view the dark side as those characteristics that exist between the normal-range dimensions above and the highly problematic or dysfunctional personality disorders—that is, the dark side is more extreme than the aforementioned traits, but less intense than recognized personality disorders.


  • 2
    I much prefer to use the word troubled, as opposed to dark side. For that is what children with challenging behaviour are - troubled. They have got to where they are as a result of troubles. Dark side carries outdated notions about good and evil, which are singularly unhelpful when dealing with kids who have been severely abused or neglected. My wife is a qualified psychotherapist and she and I have been foster parents, so we do have some experience of these matters.
    – WS2
    Apr 18 '15 at 9:27
  • 1
    @WS2 ... Wouldn't quite work for Darth Vader. Apr 18 '15 at 10:12

An evocative term for what OP seeks to describe is “the Shadow.” In the psychology of C.G. Jung (aka, Analytical Psychology), the shadow or "shadow aspect" of the Self may refer to (1) an unconscious aspect of the personality which the conscious ego does not identify in itself. Because one tends to reject or remain ignorant of the least desirable aspects of one's personality, the shadow is largely negative, or (2) the entirety of the unconscious, i.e., everything of which a person is not fully conscious. There are, however, positive aspects which may also remain hidden in one's shadow (especially in people with low self-esteem). Wikipedia The Shadow

Robert Louis Stevenson’s story of Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde is the symbolic story of a person and their Shadow. The Shadow refers to everything that has been repressed and embodies all of life that has not been allowed expression. Robert Johnson calls the shadow, "our psychic twin that follows us like a mirror image."

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  • Modern schools of psychology, based more on the empirical, tend to see less case for there being a highly structured unconscious.
    – WS2
    Apr 18 '15 at 22:09
  • @WS2 - Jung was a towering intellect and, as an individual with a poetic/artistic temperament, I much prefer him to the cognitive therapists and behaviorists. At the same time, I believe there is room for more than one approach here. Whatever is most effective for the personality involved.
    – user98990
    Apr 19 '15 at 1:42
  • Are you saying that it doesn't matter if there is a structured unconscious or not, so long as we proceed on the assumption that there is? I have to admit that I'm out of my depth here. My wife has a degree in psychology and our son is part way through a PhD in Neuroscience. So I just pick up the stray ideas that spin past me.
    – WS2
    Apr 19 '15 at 19:22
  • @WS2 - Well, I'm not saying anything more than what I wrote, but what is meant by a "structured unconscious"?
    – user98990
    Apr 20 '15 at 0:17
  • I will admit that it was a phrase of my own invention. But I have heard Freudian psychologists ascribe all kinds of behaviour to very specific unconscious impulses and ideas. There is, from what I gather, very little empirical evidence to support these theories.
    – WS2
    Apr 20 '15 at 8:00

She would not revert to her "neurotic personality" or "neurotic behavior" (if you're looking for clinical terminology).


Other than 'Darker' you may use:

  • Unilluminated
  • Immoral
  • Unenlightened
  • Dusky
  • Diseased
  • Morbid
  • Unhealthy

Or even 'Manipulative' depending on the context.

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