Through a Jungian Lens

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Anatomy of a Mother Complex – Pt 6

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Magical Other - What is love?

Magical Other – What is love?

Yes, what then is love? I know it exists and that it blossoms and often withers turning into bitterness, sorrow and even sometimes hatred. I that magical attraction in others, and even see it in birds and animals. And most importantly, I have lived the experience of love, and still continue to find myself held within its bounds. Is it simply chemistry? Or, is there more to it? Sadly, I don’t have the answers but I do know that love exists.

For a man, it is confusing, this thing called love. Perhaps it needs to be called lust, or need, or dominance, or perhaps simply just love. Because of my history as a child, and because of everyman’s history as a child, the Mother creeps in to claim her share, to voice her approval and disapproval, to give or withhold as we enter into relationship with a woman once we have left childhood behind. The mother-complex influences us, directs us, pulls at us within our unconscious. For us as men, we simply find ourselves fascinated by a particular woman, a stranger or someone we have seen often, but yet have never really seen. We don’t see the energy of a mother-complex at work. For us as men, we simply fall in love. We don’t need explanations or reasons. It’s simple. We fall in love.

“We say we love, yet we know not what it is. We say we love many things in many different ways. We borrow words from the Greeks who sought to differentiate these states of desire: eros, caritas, philos, storgé, agape. And yet we sense the shadowy beast behind our purest motives.” [Hollis, The Eden Project, p. 30]

But, it turns out not to be so simple after all. After time has allowed us to discover the real person beneath the fascination, with in turn that person discovering the real man beneath her fascination, we are faced with dealing with loss, real loss that demands that we go through the stages of grieving for what has been lost, that Magical Other. For some, time and effort allows a new kind of love to emerge. For others, the grieving becomes destructive of the relationship creating even more grief. And for more than a few, the desire for answers to pull us out of depression, dysfunction and confusion sends us into therapy. We need to find ourselves and know ourselves as we find ourselves lost in some dank and dark swamp. With loss of the Magical Other, we are left questioning our own identity. If only we would know then perhaps we could again be in relation with our Magical Other.

So we bring ourselves to relationship. With scant knowledge of ourselves, we seek our identity in the mirror of the Other, as we once did in Mom and Dad. With all the wounds of this perilous condition we seek a safe harbor in that Other who, alas, is seeking the same in us. With the thousand adaptive strategies derived from the fortuities of fated time, fated place, fated Others, we contaminate the frail present with the germs of the past.” [p. 32]

Hang on, there is hope. There is a way out of the swamp.


9 Responses

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  1. This is an excellent series, Robert! I know you’re helping a lot of men with your wonderful insights about the mother complex and its impact on us. Thank you. Jeanie

    Jean Raffa

    April 9, 2013 at 11:18 am

    • Hi Jeanie – it is an exciting series for me to be working on at this point in time. There is a lot of self-discovery which in turn leads to shifting approaches with how I am in relationship with my wife.


      April 11, 2013 at 8:17 am

  2. Oh, and women too!

    Jean Raffa

    April 9, 2013 at 11:19 am

  3. Dear Friend,
    Thank you for this Post and picture.
    The more I learn, the more I am in awe of our Creator – creating a curse that can become a blessing and creating a blessing that can become a curse !

    Opa Bear

    April 10, 2013 at 8:23 am

    • Yes, a blessing and a curse. But then, as I am learning through Jungian psychology, and every other serious look at the human psyche, darkness and light are twinned together to make a whole. Again, thank you, Opa.


      April 11, 2013 at 8:21 am

  4. What a mixture of thrilling and yet, the dark of the darkest questions you do come up with this series, here?I am glad to see your smiling face as I re-adjust my feeling modes from despair to hope…Yes, there is hope!
    That is why Mercury, Pluto and Saturn Retrogrades come by just to give us as many chances by and by to do our homework, on this long and tedious journey we are all in. The Mother-complex is such a dense subject that it will take us another couple of hundred years to evolve completely out of it and may I add, the whole universe is undergoing the same transformative evolution!
    It is a blessing for it is helping us help the tranmutation of lead into gold, step by step…towards the Ultimate Light and a curse, also because of the aloneness we feel, all along the journey, believing that help is not available!
    Jesus’s Life, Blake’s “Songs of Innocence and Experience” and many other sacred and profane examples across time, help us believe that such is so…only this perpetual entwining of light and dark, will allow us to grow deep and strong roots into Love, Real Love…
    Thank YOU, Robert!


    April 15, 2013 at 2:11 am

    • Thank you, Brinda, for your taking the time to post a comment here. Yes, the eternal and perpetual entwining of dark and light like the yin yang circle, good and evil, light and dark, moist and dry, night and day, love and hate. I do hope you will return again with more words to share here.


      April 15, 2013 at 8:15 pm

  5. Heteronormative at best. Not surprising due to the long lineage of heterosexist assumptions from Jungians. Sad though.


    April 15, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    • The masculine and the feminine doesn’t always mean male and female. As you well know, every man has an inner woman, an inner mother. I know of a fair number of Jungians who are not big into heterosexual ways of living – there are a few good books written about, by and for (as well as those who treat, or are in relationship with gay men. That said, I speak for myself and not all of humankind as I wrestle with “my” mother-complex. All men and all women have a mother complex AND a father complex. It doesn’t serve anyone to simply “diss” without saying something that needs to be said. I hope you take the time to comment again to truly express what you feel is missing, add “your” take to the issue of mother-complex. Thanks for taking the time to speak out rather than remain in silence.


      April 15, 2013 at 8:21 pm

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