The parental complex is cluster of emotionally charged images, ideas, thoughts, feelings and behavior patterns originally associated with the parents. The activation of a complex is always marked by the presence of an intense emotion… like when your buttons were pushed! We all have mother and father complexes, but they differ from person to person. The internalized imago of the parents comprises the individual’s experience of the personal parents as well as the culture and historical era in which we live. James Hillman (2) reminds us not to confuse the mother complex with our real flesh-and-blood mother. It rather refers to the way in which our psyche has integrated the personal mother within the structure of the archetypal mother.
At the core of any parental complex there is an archetypal image of the primordial parents residing in every psyche. “For instance, behind emotional associations with the personal mother (that is, the mother complex), there is the archetype of the mother— an age-old collective image spanning humanity’s experience of mothering, from nourishment and security (“positive” mother) to devouring possessiveness (“negative” mother). Similarly, behind the father complex there is the father archetype—all the experienced diversity of fathering down through the ages, from authoritarian to permissive and all shades between.” (3)
A parental complex can have enlivening and deadening features. A negative father or mother complex, for instance, may have been formed due to a father and/or mother who was physically or emotionally absent, self-absorbed, detached, disengaged from and disinterested in the child. A negative parental complex can manifest in self-doubt and/or idealization of others but may also include profound self-alienation which may manifest in self-hatred and/or dissociation.
- Carl Jung, “Mind and Earth,” CW 10, par. 74.
- Sharp, D. (2001). Digesting Jung: Food for the journey. Toronto: Inner City Books. Chicago
- 'My Parents', David Hockney, 1977 / Tate
- Cartoon by NICO ARMENTI. IllustrazioneAccademiaBARI.
- Katie M. Berggren https://shop.kmberggren.com/
A post I wrote for @jungsouthernafrica
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