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Thread: Understanding Complexes

  1. #1
    ⒺⓉⒷ Array Eric B's Avatar
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    Default Understanding Complexes

    We've spoken a lot about the "archetypes of the functions" according to John Beebe's model, but I've been reading a lot to slowly try to get a better handle of Jung's concepts, and found stuff that really clarifies what these things we have been assigning to the functions (to give each function a "role" for each type) really are.
    Of course, the archetypes mentioned for the eight function-attitudes are not all that there are. There are hundreds of archetypes, which are "ruling patterns" man has picked up since the beginning of time.Hence, they are said to be "collective".
    When personalized for each ego, they then become what are known as "complexes".

    The "Ego" itself" is an archetypal complex (the ruling pattern of "the conscious "I"), and the larger Self is an archetypal complex as well, representing psychic "completeness". The "Shadow", which Beebe associated only with "functions @5-8" is the archetypal complex dealing with the unconscious in general, and particularly what we project onto others; usually negative, but also positive as well. Hence, we both "box" and "hug" our shadows, either fighting "enemies", or adoring (or resenting) someone who has something we're jealous of because we haven't integrated it within ourselves.

    So I ran across this book which put things in an interesting way that really helps us understand what these parts of the ego are.

    Ego Strengthening and Ego Surrender
    Diane Zimberoff, M.A. and David Hartman, MSW

    Most people do not understand that we are a loose confederation of fragments of identity rather than a single permanent and unchangeable ‘I’.
    Every thought, every mood, every desire and sensation, says ‘I’.
    There are hundreds and thousands of small ‘I’s, usually unknown to each other, and often incompatible. Each moment that we think of saying ‘I’, the identity of that ‘I’ is different. We become lost into that identity when it dominates our thoughts, then into the next when it takes over. Just now it was a thought, now it is a desire, now a sensation, now another thought, and so on, endlessly (Ouspensky, 1949, p. 59; Ram Dass, 1980, p. 138). Anyone who has meditated knows how resurgent the chattering mind can be.
    He then gives four ways to think of these "I"s:

    Absorption in identity - confining one's attention to narrow segments of reality; e.g. “dumb blonde”, family identity, etc.

    Higher/lower unconscious - lower: damaging experiences from every developmental age; higher: transpersonal “peak experiences”

    Ego-states - e.g. “mad at mommy”, “eager to please”, etc.; father can play “peek-a-boo” with child one moment, and then respond seriously to an emergency the next.

    Complexes - e.g. ego (center of conscious identity), father, mother, hero, child, anima, animus, victim, etc.

    At any given moment, one ego state has “executive” control.
    The separation of ego states is "differentiation". When differentiation is extreme, the ego states becomes the multiple “personalities” of dissociative disorders.

    So when descriptions of the Shadow speak of “disowning unacceptable parts of ourselves”; it's the negative ones amongst THESE states being referred to. Or at least, ones our egos SEE as “negative”, even if they really might not be.

    Like one I've been hearing a lot recently, “the Victim”. P. 20 mentions
    A particularly strong complex is the victim, which fights back when attempts are made to release it. An example is a woman who did some personal work on taking back her power only to find herself hours later flat on her back and helpless. It looked as if “the victim” complex was literally threatened by her healing attempts and proceeded to let her know who was in charge. She definitely appeared to be possessed by the victim.
    Much of America, from politics to the Self-help industry (which often crosses over into Christian teaching) officially, openly despises this archetype. They speak out strongly against it when they see it in others.

    They sound so strong and tough, but actually end up engaging in pure victim talk themselves! (Like conservatives claiming people are using "victim rhetoric" to tax them so they can have "free handouts", but then the people saying this are claiming (rather loudly) to be victims of the tax system! Likewise, preachers, teachers, coaches, etc. are selling something, and thus acting out a shadow of fear. They cannot allow any "excuses" because they have to prove that the teaching they're selling "works", so it will sell.

    So the “Victim” is a largely unacceptable archetype that most people do not see in themselves, and yet despise in others.

    I imagine the part of us that would just accept life the way it is, is another archetypal complex, which we would also suppress. Perhaps "the Servant" or "the Martyr". (There's 70 of them listed here: though she makes a sort of astrology/tarot-like system out of them with a wheel of 12 we're supposed to pick out. Also, just the lists without descriptions:

    That's when the Victim and others would come up, to defend our wants, but we likely imagine this is the Hero (a more positively connotated archetype) defending our legitimate rights, rather than a “victim”, which conveys “weakness”.
    It's like one "I" will consider accepting something, but then this other "I" will rise up and smack the first one down: "No, don't take that! [i.e. from the outer threat or disappointment] What are you, an idiot? Demand your rights. Raise your voice and show that you've been wronged by someone, rather than it being "just life".

    (I've been dealing a lot with this struggle in my "mid-life" stage). Then, another complex, "the Judge" will often rise up to name a "perpetrator" and judge the person's motives. The Judge is usually described as turning inward, to condemn ourselves. Like think of a woman and her looks. With me, it will do that when I thought I had or should have had a handle on the situation. When it's things totally out of control, then the Judge will turn outward, usually at someone "not caring" or doing it "on purpose" when it "didn't really have to be this way".

    I've also seen it pointed out that it's all about our social identity. We stand in "the light" of adaptation to social expectations, and this is what "casts" our "shadow".
    Like to mention two of Beebe's function archetypes, the Opposing Personality doesn't really oppose the Hero; it opposes the Hero's way of adapting to the outer world. So when we're confronted by an outer situation that is blocking our genuine potential, we need the aggression of the OP to overcome the obstacle rather than defer to an existing power structure. (Hence, the OP dealing with the facing and overcoming of "obstruction").
    I know a lot of pain and frustration would be eliminated if I didn't care so much about what others might think, or even the view I want to have of myself as "not taking no junk". (This would explain the dispute some of you may have witnessed last summer, and despite the opponents' eternal claim that it's really Te/Fi; I had once been advised that the way to handle that was actually to turn to Te to appeal to what's agreed upon).

    So I'm supposed to tap into the "I" that relies on total objective logic instead of the subjective logic I argue with, which would be a critical inner "ETJ" type that really wouldn't care what others think. (And Te would work in tandem with Fi that can have an inner sense of worth allowing me not to more properly evaluate the universal worth of what people feel. But that latter one is so far from ego consciousness, it's very hard).

    Also, the Senex actually embodies the human drive to develop an ego to begin with, so it is usually constellated when the dominant function has become too one-sided, where we take our knowledge for granted and feel most certain, making us the least reflective and short-sighted. This will harden into a brittle ego-centricity around the power of I know.
    This will form the "authoritarian" sense the Beebe camp associates with the archetype.
    So then, it's when this is challenged, we will naturally feel negated, and likely become aware of this feeling through the perspective of the "sixth place function" (auxiliary in the opposite attitude), and then possibly react to the person posing the threat in a "cranky" or "witchy" way.

    So this is like the "meta-'I'" that pushes our dominant world-view, to the near exclusion of everything else. It then perceives affronts from the 6th function, so it's almost as if the ego has so wrapped itself up in the dominant attitude, that both the dominant and auxiliary take on it's character. This would be why there has sometimes been a debate (among those who try to really get back to the heart of Jung), as to which attitude the auxiliary should be in, or whether the tertiary (which is naturally the dom. attitude) is really a "second auxiliary", and as prime example, what Jung's type really was. "NiTi", TiSe[Ni] NiFe[Ti], TiNe, etc.

    So likewise, the Hero is the "I" that tends to come up to save the day through our dominant function, and the Parent is the "I" that tries to help others, through the auxiliary, and the Child is the "I" that will want to find relief, or may childishly look up to others, through the tertiary. The anima/animus, being further down in consciousness; at the "border" of the unconscious even (and thus harder to think of in terms of "I"), is our sense of completeness through "otherness".

    You can also go the other way from the ego states being too dissociated. The states are marked by "boundaries", so another problem a person might have is these boundaries being weak or eliminated. This is said to be psychosis. I've also heard the Demonic Personality complex associated with the removal of these ego boundaries, such as what people undergo during severe trauma, or shamanic initiation. The Self then takes over, and threatens the ego with destruction through dreams or visions, or at least tries to double-bind it (Trickster complex). The complexes are probably not so much "I"s then, as it's the Self and not the ego dispatching them.
    When really advancing in the process of "individuation", they can do the same sorts of things to try to force the ego out of using the preferred perspectives all the time.

    I'm still trying to square this away with Beebe's use of those two complexes, where the ego turns to them against others. I guess, loosely, they can represents "I's" that feel double bound or threatened with destruction from others through the associated functions, and then react as we project them onto those others.

    I've also heard it suggested that "the Self" is probably what Jung considered "the Soul", which is an indiscriminate vessel containing everything that happens to us. So it may be that individuation is to recognize these multiple "voices" of the soul.

    You also read a lot of "possession" of or "identification" with complexes. Jung cited as saying "It's said that people have complexes. But what people don't realize is that complexes can have us".
    A paper I just read (on dreams, and it was one of those printed out classroom type presentations) described "identification" as an assumption that "it's all that one is" (i.e you're "nothing without it").
    Hence, even though you can still refer to yourself as "I"; if you feel you haven't lived up to your Persona, for instance (the outer mask we wear to the outside, which Beebe also associates with the dominant, along with the Hero), they you'll feel "I'm nobody/nothing [no "I"], because I'm not {strong, beautiful, popular, successful, etc.} enough". You've basically negated any "I" outside of the Persona, even though the Ego is still there as a separate entity.

    So this is how to think of what we are describing when we talk of these internal "characters" that we understand all eight functions through. It should hopefully make it easier to understand and be able to recognize those strange parts of us that "use" unusual functions in certain situations.
    APS Profile: Inclusion: e/w=1/6 (Supine) |Control: e/w=7/3 (Choleric) |Affection: e/w=1/9 (Supine)
    Ti 54.3 | Ne 47.3 | Si 37.8 | Fe 17.7 | Te 22.5 | Ni 13.4 | Se 18.9 | Fi 27.9

    Temperament (APS) from scratch -- MBTI Type from scratch
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  2. #2
    ⒺⓉⒷ Array Eric B's Avatar
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    Here is a good pair of videos explaining Jung's concept of complexes:

    Jung conceived of complexes as “sub-personalities which have the potential to exert a powerful control over one’s thoughts, emotions, and behahiors.” A Primer of Jungian Psychology explains “When we say a person has a complex we mean he is strongly preoccupied by something that he can hardly think about anythig else. In modern parlance, he has a ‘hang-up.’ A strong complex is easily noticed by others, although the person himself may not be aware of it.”
    (So again, we can see that “sub-pesonalities”, which we may associate with “dissociative disorders” are involved, even when not occuring on an abnormal level).

    These complexes are said to be from the “personal unconscious”, in which “groups of contents may come together to form a cluster or constellation“.
    Their root is from a deeper and more fundamental level, called the collective unconscious (where Freud believed complexes were strictly from traumatic experiences). This is where “archetypes” are from, in which they can become “complexes” when they fill up with personal experience.

    Archetypes are “predispositions that humans are born with, to think, feel, perceive and act in specific ways.”

    “There are as many archetypes as there are typical situations in life. Endless repetition has engraved these experiences into our psychic constitution, not only in the forms of images filled with content, but at first only as forms without content, representing merely the possibility of a certain type of perception and action.” Examples are “mother, birth, death, rebirth, power, hero, child.

    This is what makes up the “collective unconscious”, and should show that it does not necessarily imply some sort of occult “spiritual” concept, or even the lack of individuality.
    He realized all fo this from analyzing the unconscious maerial of his patients, such as their dreams and fantasies, and the comparitive nature of religion and mythological motifs.

    Part 2, dealing with the main archetypes:

    The Shadow is explained:

    “Over the couse of one’s life, certain personality traits elicit negative feedback and even punishment from others. This negative feedback creates anxiety. Resulting in these traits are pushed away from awareness into the unconscious where they form the shadow, the ‘dark side’ of one’s personality”.

    This explains a question I had regarding my own internal struggles, where I realize that a lot of my anger toward others, is apparentely “getting away” with stuff I was chastized for. I wondered how “projection” (seeing the negative traits in others, as the video goes on to explain) figured when I was not necessarily the one doing the negative things now, but remembering being chastized for them. Still, the key here is the “negative feedback/punishment from others”, casting the behavior into the “shadow” whether one is still doing it or not. We still have the propensity to do it.
    And then, where this definition applies to all types, regardless of where extraverted Feeling (the functional perspective dealing with good/bad judgments from the environment) falls in their typological psyche, for me, it ended up connected with the Inferiority Complex, which made the feelings all the more worse.

    Jung says “Unfortunately there can be no doubt that man us, on the whole, less good than he imagines himself or wants to be. Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is”.

    The “Persona”, is a “compromise between the individual and society as to what a man should appear to be”

    “Inflated parts of the psyche suffer from over expression in consciousness”. while
    “Deflated parts of the psyche lack proper expression in consciousness”

    The latter is because often in the process of over identifying with the Persona, people often reject personality traits, not because they are harmful, but because they don’t fit with the dominant social attitudes of the day. therefoe, when integrating the shadow into conscious, one is also exposed to positive traits and creative energies that can bering about a renewed sense of vitality to life.
    APS Profile: Inclusion: e/w=1/6 (Supine) |Control: e/w=7/3 (Choleric) |Affection: e/w=1/9 (Supine)
    Ti 54.3 | Ne 47.3 | Si 37.8 | Fe 17.7 | Te 22.5 | Ni 13.4 | Se 18.9 | Fi 27.9

    Temperament (APS) from scratch -- MBTI Type from scratch
    Type Ideas
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