Psychological complexes are like pockets in the psyche that harbor energy patterns which can unconsciously dominate a given situation.  Jung’s theory of complexes places them as building blocks of the psyche.  Whenever someone seems to be having a reaction to a situation that is irrational or bigger than the given circumstances, they are likely acting out of a complex. ((We can often see this in families where people will react to each other with the same emotional reactions for many years.))

Complexes can form around a variety of “feeling toned ideas”: inferiority, mother, money, scapegoat, power, cultural, victim, caretaker…the list goes on.  One of the tasks of the process of analysis is to become familiar with our complexes.  While we will never get rid of these pockets in ourselves, recognition of these patterns in our psychology makes it less likely for them to seize us unexpectedly.

A complex is literally a grouping of parts around some central emotional theme. In Jung’s terminology, it is a system of related thoughts and emotions tied together by a psychologically powerful event. Complexes were due to a person’s life experiences, so they were individual and unique, part of the personal unconscious according to Jung. A complex might manifest itself by turning up in dreams or fantasies, or by provoking an unusual reaction to events in the outside world that relate to the complex.”  (For More on Jung’s Theory)

Structurally, the collective archetypes are found at the core of the personal complex, or to put it in a different way, the complex is a personal glove that fits over the archetypal energy at its core.

Author: Richard Reeve

I'm the Senior Director of Development at Panthera, a global conservation organization committed to stemming the population decline of cats in the wild. I enjoy rural living with my wife Judith and our two children in the Catskill Mountains of New York.