Everyone knows nowadays that people “have complexes.”
What is not so well known, though far more important theoretically, is that complexes can have us.
The existence of complexes throws serious doubt on the naïve assumption of the unity of consciousness, which is equated
with “psyche,” and on the supremacy of the will.
Every constellation of a complex postulates a disturbed state of consciousness.
The unity of consciousness is disrupted and the intentions of the will are impeded or made impossible. Even memory is often noticeably aﬀected, as we have seen.
The complex must therefore be a psychic factor which, in terms of energy, possesses a value that sometimes exceeds that of our conscious intentions, otherwise such disruptions of the conscious order would not be possible at all.
Complexes are in truth the living units of the unconscious psyche, and it is only through them that we are able to deduce its
existence and its constitution.
The unconscious would in fact be—as it is in Wundt’s psychology—nothing but a vestige of dim or “obscure” representations, or a “fringe of consciousness,” as William James calls it, were it not for the existence of complexes.
That is why Freud became the real discoverer of the unconscious in psychology, because he examined those dark places and did not simply dismiss them, with a disparaging euphemism, as “parapraxes.”
The via regia to the unconscious, however, is not the dream, as he thought, but the complex, which is the architect of dreams and of symptoms.
Nor is this via so very “royal,” either, since the way pointed out by the complex is more like a rough and uncommonly devious footpath that often loses itself in the undergrowth and generally leads not into the heart of the unconscious but past it. Carl Jung, CW 8, Para 210
What then, scientiﬁcally speaking, is a “feeling-toned complex?”
It is the image of a certain psychic situation which is strongly accentuated emotionally and is, moreover, in- compatible with the habitual attitude ofconsciousness.
This image has a powerful inner coherence, it has its own wholeness and, in addition, a relatively high degree of autonomy, so that it is subject to the control of the conscious mind to only a limited extent, and therefore behaves like annimated foreign body in the sphere of consciousness.
The complex can usually be suppressed with an eﬀort of will, but not argued out of existence, and at the ﬁrst suitable opportunity it reappears in all its original strength. Carl Jung, CW 8, Para 201
A complex can be really overcome only if it is lived out to the full. Carl Jung, CW 9i, Para 184