Carl Jung: “Complexes behave like independent beings”

Jungquotes complex


Let us turn first to the question of the psyche’s tendency to split. Although this peculiarity is most clearly observable in psychopathology, fundamentally it is a normal phenomenon, which can be recognized with the greatest ease in the projections made by the primitive psyche. The tendency to split means that parts of the psyche detach themselves from consciousness to such an extent that they not only appear foreign but lead an autonomous life of their own. It need not be a question of hysterical multiple personality, or schizophrenic alterations of personality, but merely of so-called “complexes” that come entirely within the scope of the normal. Complexes are psychic fragments which have split off owing to traumatic influences or certain incompatible tendencies. As the association experiments prove, complexes interfere with the intentions of the will and disturb the conscious performance; they produce disturbances of memory and blockages in the flow of associations; they appear and disappear according to their own laws; they can temporarily obsess consciousness, or influence speech and action in an unconscious way. In a word, complexes behave like independent beings, a fact especially evident in abnormal states of mind. In the voices heard by the insane they even take on a personal ego-character like that of the spirits who manifest themselves through automatic writing and similar techniques. An intensification of complexes leads to morbid states, which are extensive multiple dissociations endowed with an indomitable life of their own.

Collected Works 8: The Structure & Dynamics of the Psyche
Psychological Factors Determining Human Behaviour,”

Image: William Blake: “The Ghost of a Flea”
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