Through a Jungian Lens

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Eros, Anima, Love – A Complex Activated

with 11 comments

Another flower seen while walking along the banks of one of the many canals and small rivers found in Changzhou.  These flowers are actually quite common and are in bright yellow, orange and red.  They have a sense of richness, of fullness an alluring fecundity.

I have been using the word “complex” yet I have not given a good definition, good enough so that the understanding of the “emotion” that is activated when one is in “love” is more about one self than it is about the person one is in love with – the other.  Here, I turn the words over to Daryl Sharp:

“A complex is a bundle of associations, sometimes painful, sometimes joyful, always accompanied by affect.  It has energy and life of its own.  It can upset digestion, breathing and the rate at which the heart beats.  It behaves like a partial personality.  When you want to say or do something and a complex interferes, you find yourself saying or doing something quite different from what you intended.  Your best intentions are upset, exactly as if you have been interfered with by another person.”  (Sharp, Jungian Psychology Unplugged, p. 40)

I think that this aptly describes what “overcomes” a person when falling in love.  The world is turned upside down and one is “possessed” to the point of losing control of the situation and one’s perceived “will.”  Try to explain to yourself that to love a certain person is not a good idea and see where it gets you.  Married people over all of recorded history have been falling in love with others while married to a different person.  An extreme force of will can prevent an affair with this “love” but it can’t stop the thoughts, the dreams, and being pulled away from being present with others.  One is lost in inner space.

How does one account for this?  There is no relationship in reality, there are no shared values – the “other” is a mystery.  What there is, is the numinosity of the “other.  The self is caught in the image, not in the person behind the image.  But of course, at the time the self can’t tell the difference.  And so, with complex activated, the drama unfolds and life becomes a confused mess.


11 Responses

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  1. Looking back at my life and life experiences I totally agree with you Robert, “caught by the image” shows the tremendous force of the Archetypes and the affects can be devastating on oneself.
    Your explanation is very clear and for those who are not so lucky to understand “our own blindness”, this is a good example what this blindness means in all the categories of our life – because the complex of Love is so extreme, I presume that almost everybody is able to recognize it,….when they are aware…..afterwards.

    Opa Bear

    September 18, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    • You are right Opa Bear – afterwards. When it is happening, it is almost impossible to recognize what is happening. It is only afterwards when one can catch one’s breath that the opportunity to “reflect” presents itself. Sadly most let this moment slip away.

      Robert G. Longpré

      September 22, 2010 at 4:19 pm

  2. Perhaps it is the ‘unknowability’ of that other that makes love happen, whether we want it to or not. We can imbue the other with the strengths we lack and the needs we can fill. We want them to be like this forever and when we find that our complex has led us into something that we find hard to escape, and that ultimately can’t fulfil us, because we need to find those attributes within ourselves, then we fall out of love. And then the messiness begins as well!

    Lotus Light

    September 18, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    • Perhaps it is the unknowability of the other. The other is a hook, an unconscious hook for the most part. However when it comes to “lust” the other is likely consciously setting the hooks in order to catch the need of the opposite. I hesitate to say that this is love – more eros at work here.

      Robert G. Longpré

      September 22, 2010 at 4:21 pm

  3. Un bonjour, que deviens tu ? J’ai recommencé le travail sur les séries de rêves. Amicalement.


    September 18, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    • J’ai visté tes pages – très intéressants. Je promets de revenir les visiter bientôt. 🙂

      Robert G. Longpré

      September 22, 2010 at 4:24 pm

  4. In the Jungian system it is important to differentiate “feeling” and “emotion.” Feeling is a function of consciousness. Emotions have their origins in the unconscious. As you point out when one “falls in love,” one is possessed by strong emotional affect with an unconscious origin. At that point using our conscious feeling function we judge the process(usually) as not only good, but wonderful. As Marie Louise von Franz points out: “. . .Whoever cannot surrender to this experience has never lived; whoever founders in it has understood nothing.”

    John Ferric

    September 18, 2010 at 11:48 pm

    • I agree with the need to differentiate these as well, John. I would encourage all who read here to find a book or two written by Marie Louise von Franz as she has a wealth of knowledge of the human psyche to share with us.

      Robert G. Longpré

      September 22, 2010 at 4:31 pm

  5. I found your blog by googling “falling in love with the shadow”. I was just writing a post about falling in love with a man almost five years ago. It was only today did I realize that I was falling in love with myself, my shadow, which I saw expressed in him. I fell in love with his darkness, his depression, his addictions, all aspects of myself that I had never been able to love.

    I think I shall spend hours here, your blog looks fascinating.


    September 20, 2010 at 8:06 am

  6. I meant to sign in with this blog. Lilith.


    September 20, 2010 at 8:08 am

    • Hello, Lilith. I am unable to post comments on you blog – something to do with firewalls. Unless I use a VPN service I can’t even read the blog site. Here blogger and blogspot and many other blogging platforms are not accessible. Worpress and Microsoft Live are the only ones that I seem to be able to access from here. Thanks for joining in here. I hope you return and feel free to comment.

      Robert G. Longpré

      September 20, 2010 at 5:43 pm

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