Friday, September 05, 2008

Who's speaking, you or one of your complexes?

Thomas Moore’s Care of the Soul column,"Is That Your Complex Speaking?" in the July-August 2008 issue of Spirituality and Health is available online after free registration. Moore discusses psychologist Carl Jung’s use of the term "complex":
"... a bundle of ideas, memories, attitudes, emotions, passions, and habits focused on a theme — for example, the "inferiority complex." This theme can take over a person and affect how he feels and understands his situation. Talk to a person with an inferiority complex, and no matter how much you praise his talents and accomplishments, he will still feel inadequate. A complex is not reasonable and is not susceptible to reasonable argument. One aspect of a complex is that a person makes reasonable-sounding statements that actually are the complex speaking.
...
A complex is mostly unconscious, so the person talking has no idea that he or she is being controlled like a puppet by a deep-seated emotional obsession. Friends and lovers of such a person may know too well that something is wrong, but they have no idea what to do about it.

Psychologists often advise to "go with the symptom." Don’t try to get rid of it or urge its opposite. It’s better to take the symptom as given, and try to deepen it. Therefore, to a friend with an inferiority complex, you could say, "It’s extraordinary how much I don’t know about my field, and yet I get along pretty well." A person caught in an inferiority complex may need to discover that we all are ignorant of many things, all incapable and prone to error. Inferior means lower, and the inferiority complex may signal that a person has to join the human race.

It’s interesting how often the complex hides its polar opposite. The inferior person doesn’t let on how superior he feels deep down.
...
We could all deal with the highly neurotic human condition by thinking more subtly about what is being said in all of our interactions."
In the September-October issue, Moore writes about the shock of changing life directions and for November-December, "Leaving the Church?"

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