Through a Jungian Lens

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Gotcha! Being Caught Up In Complexes

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“Everyone knows nowadays that people “have complexes.” What is not so well known, though far more important theoretically, is that complexes can have us.” [Jung, “The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche, Collected Works Volume 8, paragraph 200]

A few days ago, the rare time when we find ourselves on the beach lying on a blanket and reading, I was reading Daryl Sharp’s book, Digesting Jung, while my wife was reading Osho’s book, The Journey of Being Human, (yes, beach reading isn’t always about a popular novel, believe it or not). I should say that I was re-reading Sharp’s book as I needed to get some perspective on my own inner-world activity. The above quote begins Chapter 1 in the book. I found it ironic that I had found myself being “touchy” in a number of areas over the past week, some of that touchiness resulting in the closure of my sister blog sites leaving only the primary blog site in place. Was the end result of my touchiness a negative outcome or a positive outcome? At that instance of time, there was some heat and the immediate evaluation on my part was that it was a negative act on my part. Yet, only a very short while later, I came to see it differently. Now, with the passage of even more time, I have no doubt that the visceral response to my mood that resulted in closing down a blog site was one of the best things I have done lately.

I have to step back a moment here to get this post back on track. Over the past few decades I have been learning about the depth of my own complexes and about the triggers that activate these complexes. I became familiar with my mother-complex, my father-complex, my hero-complex, my “Magical Other” complex and my abandoned and abused child-complex just to name a few. I learned to pay attention to my moods and ask questions. What happened when I “reacted” illogically to life? What was said? Who said it? What was done? Who did it? What were the environmental conditions? What were my energy levels? These questions helped me learn about my “triggers.”

Following the return to self-control after I had been under the control of a complex, I was forced over several years to dig deep to uncover the roots of my complexes. I learned somewhat to forgive myself for being a victim, and to accept that those defining moments which were at the roots of the various complexes were never going to disappear. I had to wrestle long with this as I wanted them all gone, all erased so that I could be “free” from the complexes and their power over me. Like anyone else, I wanted to be in full control of myself and hated it when I wasn’t in control, when it felt like others had control over me. Not realising that this lack of control usually had its roots within myself, I was quick to lay blame on others for stealing control from me. So how do I know, how do you know when it stems from an inner source otherwise known as a complex? Listen to Daryl Sharp’s words”

“The activation of a complex is always marked by the presence of some strong emotion, be it love or hate, joy or anger, or any other. We are all 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 a complex is activated, we can’t think straight and hardly know how we feel. We speak and act according to the dictates of the complex, and when it has run its course we wonder what took over.” [Sharp, Digesting Jung, page 10]

I will have a lot more to say about complexes in the future here at Through a Jungian Lens. It is enough to say that I, as Jung had so wisely noted about humans in general was had by a complex rather than my having a complex.


Written by Robert G. Longpré

January 19, 2014 at 9:33 am

Posted in Jungian Psychology

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