Through a Jungian Lens

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Falling in Love – Falling into a Complex

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These blossoms appear fairy-like on these trees.  Gossamer strands of pink and white call the eye to focus upon them.  These blossoms are real aspects of the tree, though their existence is fleeting making one wonder if they are part of the tree’s identity.

This image makes me think of falling in love, how in an instant of time, something beautiful beyond description emerges into life, something fragile and gossamer-like, something so compelling that the other images almost totally disappear into a background which is only there to serve as contrast.  And like every other human, I get caught up in this business of love, this feeling-state that defies all attempts at definition.

“The activation of a complex is always marked by the presence of some strong emotion, whether it be love, hate, rage, sadness or joy.  Everyone is complexed by something, which is to say, we all react emotionally when the right buttons are pushed.  Or, to put it another way, an emotional reaction means that a complex has been constellated.  When we are emotional we can’t think straight and hardly know how we feel.  We speak and act out of the complex, and when it has run its course we wonder what took over.”  (Sharp, Jungian Psychology Unplugged, p. 39 – note, the emphasis on “love” is mine)

What?  The feeling of being in love is a complex?  But, but, but!  Obviously Jung didn’t understand what I am feeling, what I felt, what any hot-blooded human has always known – how pure the feeling is, how real love is, how perfect the relationship of one heart is to another heart.  I protest!  Love simply is . . . Okay, so I can’t find the words.  Can Jung be wrong here?  Why reduce love to being an activated complex?

It is precisely because I can’t find these words that I can sense the presence of a complex.  It is true, there is nothing any of my functions can tell me about the nature of love, especially the nature of my being captured by this emotion.  How is it that my eyes fell upon a stranger and I fell in love?  The only information I had was that which appeared at her appearance.  No words were spoken, no information given, no known history, no sense of temperament or of shared interests.  It was if I fell in love with a numinous image . . .

And that is exactly what happened.  I remember this moment as if frozen forever in time from a moment when I was fourteen years old, travelling across the country with my family, a moment when we stopped in a small town to eat a lunch at a small restaurant before travelling on.  The girl whose eyes met mine immediately fell in love with me as well – at least that is what I told myself.  An hour later, the town, the restaurant and the girl receded into the past as if just a figment of my imagination.   If this was true love, how was it that the gods decided to rip this away from me.  Perhaps the gods changed their mind and had decided to wait until a later time and present me with another “true love.”  Or perhaps, as Jung suggests, one of my complexes were activated.


4 Responses

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  1. Mimosa flower – i was suprised to see the size difference between the trees i saw in thailand and those here in virginia – perhaps there are different varieties. here in va, they bloom in aug and are the last obvious tree flowering along with the crepe mrytle. i watch for them since the hummingbirds like them so. they are magical.
    so i am wondering about this wording thing again… the word ‘complex’ has so many negative connotations… does jung mean it to be that what cannot be described by a ‘function’ – if so, he is very squirrley it think.
    does not intuition factor into the picture when falling in love? and what of when say i hear a story about an car accident and i begin to cry as my heart opens in compassionate empathy – i would guess that my logic and thinking functions serve as the vehicle for the empathy to be grasped…and cannot empathy be a part of a persons identity?
    but you can tell, i am no student of jung so no doubt i am mixing all sorts of fruits in my basket


    September 17, 2010 at 1:02 am

    • I will try to answer this in the next few posts here. The first point that I wanted to make was simply that when an affect, an emotion is triggered, a complex is acting as the trigger. One needs to look inward rather than outward to see what is working and why it is working. Falling into love, falling into hate, falling to anger – – – all about the self, not the other.

      Robert G. Longpré

      September 17, 2010 at 7:10 am

  2. Beautiful photograph! and yes I agree, it is that awe-inspiring feeling that I can equate to “falling in love”. Not the same, but I get where you’re going 🙂


    September 18, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    • Thanks, Michael.

      Robert G. Longpré

      September 22, 2010 at 4:21 pm

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