Carl Jung on “Complexes” – Anthology

By psyche I understand the totality of all psychic processes, conscious as well as unconscious. By soul, on the other hand, I understand a clearly demarcated functional complex that can best be described as a “personality.” ~Carl Jung; CW 6, par. 797

The extravert generally has a relaxed attitude. Exceptions, however, are frequent, even in one and the same individual e.g., put an extravert in a dark and silent room, where all his repressed complexes can gnaw at him, and he will get into such a state of tension that he will jump at the slightest stimulus ~Carl Jung, CW 6, Para 482

The soul must be a content in which spontaneity is inherent, and hence also partial unconsciousness, as with every autonomous complex ~Carl Jung, CW 6, Para 419

The two fundamental mechanisms of the psyche, extraversion and introversion, are also to a large extent the normal and appropriate ways of reacting to complexes extraversion as a means of escaping from the complex into reality, introversion as a means of detaching oneself from external reality through the complex ~Carl Jung, CW 6, Para 259

The primitive, as we know, usually has several souls several autonomous complexes with a high degree of spontaneity, so that they appear as having a separate existence (as in certain mental disorders). On a higher level the number of souls decreases, until at the highest level of culture the soul resolves itself into the subject’s general awareness of his psychic activities and exists only as a term for the totality of psychic processes ~Carl Jung, CW 6, Para 419

The paranoid idea can be the result, in pathological cases, of a particularly isolated and uninfluenceable complex which has become an “over-valued idea”, a dominant that defies all criticism and enjoys complete autonomy, until it finally becomes an all-controlling factor manifesting itself as “spleen.” In pathological cases it turns into an obsessive or paranoid idea, absolutely unshakable, that rules the individual’s entire life ~Carl Jung, CW 6, Para 467

The extravert generally has a relaxed attitude. Exceptions, however, are frequent, even in one and the same individual., put an extravert in a dark and silent room, where all his repressed complexes can gnaw at him, and he will get into such a state of tension that he will jump at the slightest stimulus ~Carl Jung, CW 6, Para 482

A study of the complexes leads logically to the problem of their origin, experience shows that complexes always contain something like a conflict, or at least are either the cause or the effect of a conflict. At any rate the characteristics of conflict shock, upheaval, mental agony, inner strife are peculiar to the complexes ~Carl Jung, CW 6, Para 924

They are the “sore spots,” the bétes noires, the “skeletons in the cupboard” which we do not like to remember and still less to be reminded of by others, but which frequently come back to mind unbidden and in the most unwelcome fashion. They always contain memories, wishes, fears, duties, needs, or insights which somehow we can never really grapple with, and for this reason they constantly interfere with our conscious life in a disturbing and usually a harmful way ~Carl Jung, CW 6, Para 924

Complexes obviously represent a kind of inferiority in the broadest senseit only means that something discordant, unassimilated, and antagonistic exists, perhaps as an obstacle, but also as an incentive to greater effort, and so, perhaps, to new possibilities of achievement ~Carl Jung, CW 6, Para 925

Complexes are focal or nodal points of psychic life which we would not wish to do without; indeed, they should not be missing, for otherwise psychic activity would come to a fatal standstill. They point to the unresolved problems in the individual, the places where he has suffered a defeat, at least for the time being, and where there is something he cannot evade or overcome his weak spots in every sense of the word ~Carl Jung, CW 6, Para 925

These characteristics of the complex throw a significant light on its origin. It obviously arises from the clash between a demand of adaptation and the individual’s constitutional inability to meet the challenge. Seen in this light, the complex is a valuable symptom which helps us to diagnose an individual disposition ~Carl Jung, CW 6, Para 926

Experience shows us that complexes are infinitely varied, yet careful comparison reveals a relatively small number of typical primary forms, which are all built upon the first experiences of childhood. This must necessarily be so, because the individual disposition is already a factor in infancy; it is innate, and not acquired in the course of life ~Carl Jung, CW 6, Para 927

A study of the complexes leads logically to the problem of their origin, experience shows that complexes always contain something like a conflict, or at least are either the cause or the effect of a conflict. At any rate the characteristics of conflict shock, upheaval, mental agony, inner strife are peculiar to the complexes ~Carl Jung, CW 6, Para 924

They are the “sore spots,” the bétes noires, the “skeletons in the cupboard” which we do not like to remember and still less to be reminded of by others, but which frequently come back to mind unbidden and in the most unwelcome fashion. They always contain memories, wishes, fears, duties, needs, or insights which somehow we can never really grapple with, and for this reason they constantly interfere with our conscious life in a disturbing and usually a harmful way ~Carl Jung, CW 6, Para 924

Complexes obviously represent a kind of inferiority in the broadest senseit only means that something discordant, unassimilated, and antagonistic exists, perhaps as an obstacle, but also as an incentive to greater effort, and so, perhaps, to new possibilities of achievement ~Carl Jung, CW 6, Para 925

Complexes are focal or nodal points of psychic life which we would not wish to do without; indeed, they should not be missing, for otherwise psychic activity would come to a fatal standstill. They point to the unresolved problems in the individual, the places where he has suffered a defeat, at least for the time being, and where there is something he cannot evade or overcome his weak spots in every sense of the word ~Carl Jung, CW 6, Para 925

These characteristics of the complex throw a significant light on its origin. It obviously arises from the clash between a demand of adaptation and the individual’s constitutional inability to meet the challenge. Seen in this light, the complex is a valuable symptom which helps us to diagnose an individual disposition ~Carl Jung, CW 6, Para 926

 

Experience shows us that complexes are infinitely varied, yet careful comparison reveals a relatively small number of typical primary forms, which are all built upon the first experiences of childhood. This must necessarily be so, because the individual disposition is already a factor in infancy; it is innate, and not acquired in the course of life ~Carl Jung, CW 6, Para 927

Since, psychologically speaking, the God-image is a complex of ideas of an archetypal nature, it must necessarily be regarded as representing a certain sum of energy (libido) which appears in projection ~Carl Jung, CW 5, Para 89

By psyche I understand the totality of all psychic processes, conscious as well as unconscious. By soul, on the other hand, I understand a clearly demarcated functional complex that can best be described as a “personality.” ~Carl Jung;  CW 6, par. 797

Complexes are focal or nodal points of psychic life which we would not wish to do without; indeed, they should not be missing, for otherwise psychic activity would come to a fatal standstill. ~Carl Jung, CW 6, Para 925

SOUL. [psyche, personality, persona, anima,] I have been compelled, in my investigations into the structure of the unconscious, to make a conceptual distinction between soul and psyche. By psyche I understand the totality of all psychic processes, conscious as well as unconscious. By soul, on the other hand, I understand a clearly demarcated functional complex that can best be described as a “personality.” In order to make clear what I mean by this, I must introduce some further points of view. It is, in particular, the phenomena of somnambulism, double consciousness, split personality, etc., whose investigation we owe primarily to the French school, that have enabled us to accept the possibility of a plurality of personalities in one and the same individual. ~Carl Jung, CW 6. Para 797

The God-concept coincides with the particular ideational complex which concentrates in itself the maximum amount of libido, or psychic energy ~Carl Jung, CW 6, Para 67

I call every interpretation which equates the dream images with real objects an interpretation on the objective level… Interpretation on the objective level is analytic, because it breaks down the dream content into memory-complexes that refer to external situations. ~Carl Jung; CW 7, para. 131.

In contrast to this is the interpretation which refers every part of the dream and all the actors in it back to the dreamer himself. This I call interpretation on the subjective level…. Interpretation on the subjective level is synthetic, because it detaches the underlying memory-complexes from their external causes, regards them as tendencies or components of the subject, and reunites them with that subject. ~Carl Jung; CW 7, para. 131.

 

I call every interpretation which equates the dream images with real objects an interpretation on the objective level. In contrast to this is the interpretation which refers every part of the dream and all the actors in it back to the dreamer himself.  This I call interpretation on the subjective level. Interpretation on the objective level is analytic, because it breaks down the dream content into memory complexes that refer to external situations. Interpretation on the subjective level is synthetic, because it detaches the underlying memory-complexes from their external causes, regards them as tendencies or components of the subject, and reunites them with that subject. … In this case, therefore, all the contents of the dream are treated as symbols for subjective contents. ~Carl Jung, CW 7, Para 130

These words belonged to the autonomous complex. When excited by an external stimulus, complexes can produce sudden confusions, or violent affects, depressions, anxiety-states, etc., or they may express themselves in hallucinations. ~Carl Jung, CW 8, Page 313.

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. ~Carl Jung, CW 8, Para 210

Where the realm of the complexes begins the freedom of the ego comes to an end, for complexes are psychic agencies whose deepest nature is still unfathomed. ~Carl Jung, CW 8, Para 216.

From the psychological point of view, the phenomenon of spirit, like every autonomous complex, appears as an intention of the unconscious superior to, or at least on a par with, intentions of the ego. If we are to do justice to the essence of the thing we call spirit, we should really speak of a “higher” consciousness rather than of the unconscious. ~Carl Jung, CW 8, para 643.

Psychologically we would say: every affect tends to become an autonomous complex, to break away from the hierarchy of consciousness and, if possible, to drag the ego after it ~Carl Jung, CW 8, Para 628

The more absolute and compelling the ruling idea, the more it has the nature of an autonomous complex that confronts the ego-consciousness as an unshakable fact ~Carl Jung, CW 8, Para 633

Spirit that can be translated into a definite concept is a psychic complex lying within the orbit of our ego-consciousness. It will not bring forth anything, nor will it achieve anything more than we have put into it ~Carl Jung, CW 8, Para 644

But spirit that demands a symbol for its expression is a psychic complex that contains the seeds of incalculable possibilities. The most obvious and best example of this is the effectiveness of the Christian symbols, whose power changed the face of history. If one looks without prejudice at the way the spirit of early Christianity worked on the mind of the average man of the second century, one can only be amazed. But then, no spirit was ever as creative as this. No wonder it was felt to be of godlike superiority ~Carl Jung, CW 8, Para 644

Spirits are complexes of the collective unconscious which appear when the individual loses his adaptation to reality, or which seek to replace the inadequate attitude of a whole people by a new one. They are therefore either pathological fantasies or new but as yet unknown ideas ~Carl Jung, CW 8, Para 597

As in our waking state, real people and things enter our field of vision, so the dream-images enter like another kind of reality into the field of consciousness of the dream-ego. We do not feel as if we were producing the dreams, it is rather as if the dreams came to us. They are not subject to our control but obey their own laws. They are obviously autonomous psychic complexes which form them selves out of their own material. We do not know the source of their motives, and we therefore say that dreams come from the unconscious. In saying this, we assume that there are independent psychic complexes which elude our conscious control and come and go according to their own laws. ~Carl Jung, CW 8, Para 580

A complex can be really overcome only if it is lived out to the full. ~Carl Jung, CW 9i, Para 184

A mother-complex is not got rid of by blindly reducing the mother to human proportions. Besides that we run the risk of dissolving the experience “Mother” into atoms, thus destroying something supremely valuable and throwing away the golden key which a good fairy laid in our cradle. That is why mankind has always instinctively added the pre-existent divine pair to the personal parents—the “god”- father and “god”-mother of the newborn child—so that, from sheer unconsciousness or shortsighted rationalism, he should never forget himself so far as to invest his own parents with divinity. ~Carl Jung, CW 9i, Para 172

Archetypes are complexes of experience that come upon us like fate, and their effects are felt in our most personal life. The anima no longer crosses our path as a goddess, but, it may be, as an intimately personal misadventure, or perhaps as our best venture. When, for instance, a highly esteemed professor in his seventies abandons his family and runs off with a young red-headed actress, we know that the gods have claimed another victim. ~Carl Jung, CW 9i, Para 62

Even domestic animals, to whom we erroneously deny a conscience, have complexes and moral reactions.  ~Carl Jung, CW 10, Page 446.

We psychologists have learned, through long and painful experience, that you deprive a man of his best resource when you help him to get rid of his complexes. You can only help him to become sufficiently aware of them and to start a conscious conflict within himself. In this way the complex becomes a focus of life. Anything that disappears from your psychological inventory is apt to turn up in the guise of a hostile neighbour, who will inevitably arouse your anger and make you aggressive. It is surely better to know that your worst enemy is right there in your own heart. ~Carl Jung, CW 10, Para 456

Each of us is equipped with a psychic disposition that limits our freedom in high degree and makes it practically illusory. Not only is “freedom of the will” an incalculable problem philosophically, it is also a misnomer in the practical sense, for we seldom find anybody who is not influenced and indeed dominated by desires, habits, impulses, prejudices, resentments, and by every conceivable kind of complex. All these natural facts function exactly like an Olympus full of deities who want to be propitiated, served, feared and worshipped, not only by the individual owner of this assorted pantheon, but by everybody in his vicinity. ~Carl Jung, CW 11, Para 143

The ego, ostensibly the thing we know most about, is in fact a highly complex affair full of unfathomable obscurities. Indeed, one could even define it as a relatively constant personification of the unconscious itself, or as the Schopenhauerian mirror in which the unconscious becomes aware of its own face ~ Carl Jung, CW 14, Para 129.

All the worlds that have ever existed before man were physically there. But they were a nameless happening, not a definite actuality, for there did not yet exist that minimal concentration of the psychic factor, which was also present, to speak the word that outweighed the whole of Creation That is the world, and this is I! That was the first morning of the world, the first sunrise after the primal darkness, when that inchoately conscious complex, the ego, knowingly sundered subject and object, and thus precipitated the world and itself into definite existence, giving it and itself a voice and a name. ~Carl Jung, CW 14, Para 129

Although I was the first to demand that the analyst should himself be analysed, we are largely indebted to Freud for the invaluable discovery that analysts too have their complexes and consequently one or two blind spots which act as so many prejudices. ~Carl Jung, CW 16, Para 8

In sleep, fantasy takes the form of dreams. But in waking life, too, we continue to dream beneath the threshold of consciousness, especially when under the influence of repressed or other unconscious complexes. ~Carl Jung, CW 16, Para 125

The possession of complexes does not in itself signify neurosis, for complexes are the normal foci of psychic happenings, and the fact that they are painful is no proof of pathological disturbance. Suffering is not an illness; it is the normal counterpole to happiness. A complex becomes pathological only when we think we have not got it. ~Carl Jung, CW 16, Para 179

That is to say, by means of “free” association you will always get at your complexes, but this does not mean at all that they are the material dreamt about. ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Page 294.

As a Swiss, my situation is such that by nature my heart is divided into four and because of the smallness of our country I can count on coming into contact at least with the four surrounding nations or cultural complexes. ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Page 430.

The unpleasant power-complex of the female animus is encountered only when a woman does not allow her feeling to express itself naturally or handles it in an inferior way. But this, as said, can happen in all situations of life and has nothing whatever to do with the right to vote. ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Page 478.

Very early on, at the time of my association experiments, I became interested in tuberculosis as a possible psychic disease having observed that reactions due to complexes frequently cause a long-lasting reduction in the volume of breathing. ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Page 533.

I also observed that a large number of my neurotic patients who were tubercular were “freed” from their complexes under psychotherapeutic treatment, learnt to breathe properly again and in the end were cured. ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Page 533.

My ambitions are not soaring to theological heights. I am merely concerned with the practical and theoretical problem of how-do-complexes-behave? ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Page 571.

He [Jung] mentioned that in free association tests breathing was restricted when a complex was touched and that this could be related to TB. ~E.A. Bennet, Meetings with Jung, Page 74

He [Jung] mentioned that in free association tests breathing was restricted when a complex was touched and that this could be related to TB. ~E.A. Bennet, Meetings with Jung, Page 74

Finally and in confidence: Pfister is now in analysis with Riklin. He has obviously had enough of being roasted over a slow fire by his complexes. ~Carl Jung, Freud/Jung Letters, Pages 424-425

Please forgive me for the delay in answering. The break with Bleuler has not left me unscathed. Once again I underestimated my father complex. ~Carl Jung, Freud/Jung Letters, Vol. 1, Pages 328-331

The sad truth is that man’s real life consists of a complex of inexorable opposites . . . day and night . . . birth and death . . . happiness and misery . . . good and evil. ~Carl Jung; Man and His Symbols; Page 75.

Perhaps certain traits belonging to the ancestors get buried away in the mind as complexes with a life of their own which has never been assimilated into the life of the individual, and then, for some unknown reason, these complexes become activated, step out of their obscurity in the folds of the unconscious, and begin to dominate the whole mind. ~Carl Jung, 1925 Seminar, Page 39.

When I dream of a patient, it is usually a sign that one of my complexes has been touched. ~Carl Jung, C.G. Jung Speaking: Interviews and Encounters, Pages 359-364

His [Freud] is the honour of having discovered the first archetype, the Oedipus complex. ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. 1, Page 525

The Jewish Christ-complex is a very remarkable business. – Carl Jung, Jung-Kirsch Letters, Page 46

The existence of this complex predisposes to a somewhat hystericized general mental attitude, which has become especially clear to me in the course of the present anti-Christian agitation against me. – Carl Jung, Jung-Kirsch Letters, Page 46

The fact that the Jews repressed their Jewishness during the era of assimilation explains – besides the Christ-complex – also the psychological break of personalities like Heine,  as well as the soulless materialism of such inspiring but destructive individuals as Marx and Freud. ~James Kirsch, Jung-Kirsch Letters, Page 52

We [Jews] made a vital mistake by rejecting Christ. Christ is the repressed complex of the Jew. ~James Kirsch, Jung-Kirsch Letters, Page 43

During my afternoon with you, I was able to rid myself of my projection of the “mana” personality on you to such an extent that my inferiority-complexes are no longer obstructing my path, and I can tell you that I would be very pleased if you would come. ~James Kirsch, Jung-Kirsch Letters, Page 125

He was evidently hit in his guilt-complex by your article in the “Schweizer Weltwoche.” ~James Kirsch, Jung-Kirsch Letters, Page 109

As an example of this, I see a lot of astounding cures of tuberculosis—chronic tuberculosis—effected by analysts; people learn to breathe again. The understanding of what their complexes were—that has helped them. ~Carl Jung, Evans Conversations, Page 34.

You see, you have that lie detector in the United States, and that’s like an association test I have worked out with the psycho-galvanic phenomenon. Also, we have done a lot of work on the Pneumograph which will show the decrease of volume of breathing under the influence of a complex. You know, one of the reasons for tuberculosis is the anifestation of a complex. People have very shallow breathing; don’t ventilate the aspices of their lungs anymore, and get tuberculosis. Half of tuberculosis cases are psychic. ~C.G. Jung – Richard Evans interviews Transcript of the 1957 films.

Perhaps certain traits belonging to the ancestors get buried away in the mind as complexes with a life of their own which has never been assimilated into the life of the individual, and then, for some unknown reason, these complexes become activated, step out of their obscurity in the folds of the unconscious, and begin to dominate the whole mind. ~Carl Jung, 1925 Seminar, Page 39.

Thus, when I said that God is a complex, I meant to say: whatever He is, he is at least a very tangible complex. You can say, He is an illusion, but He is at least a psychological fact. I surely never intended to say: He is nothing else but a complex. . . . ~Carl Jung to Victor White, 5Oct1945

One can easily throw dust into one’s own eyes with theories. ~Carl Jung; “Analytical Archetypes are complexes of experience that come upon us like fate, and their effects are felt in our most personal life. The anima no longer crosses our path as a goddess, but, it may be, as an intimately personal misadventure, or perhaps as our best venture. When, for instance, a highly esteemed professor in his seventies abandons his family and runs off with a young red-headed actress, we know that the gods have claimed another victim. ~Carl Jung,  CW 9, Page 62.

One can easily throw dust into one’s own eyes with theories. ~Carl Jung; “Analytical Archetypes are complexes of experience that come upon us like fate, and their effects are felt in our most personal life. The anima no longer crosses our path as a goddess, but, it may be, as an intimately personal misadventure, or perhaps as our best venture. When, for instance, a highly esteemed professor in his seventies abandons his family and runs off with a young red-headed actress, we know that the gods have claimed another victim. ~Carl Jung,  CW 9, Page 62.

Actually I had a good personal relationship with my father, and thus no “father complex” of the usual sort. To be sure I was not fond of theology, especially because it gave my father problems which he could not solve and which I felt were unjustified. Carl Jung, Jung: A Biography, Page 50

Every affective event becomes a complex.” ~C.G. Jung, CW 3, par. 140

Was Freud a modern-day Galileo? There is much to be said for this idea, at least as far as the stance of those in authority once the church, now the scientific community-is concerned, but Wilhelm Weygandt, a professor of psychiatry and private consulting physician, expressed it perfectly on the occasion of a medical convention in Hamburg in 1910: “Freud’s theories have nothing to do with science; they are more a matter for the police.” (Three years earlier Jung had said of this “scholar”: “I know Weygandt personally, he is a hysteric par excellence, stuffed with complexes from top to bottom, so that he can’t get a genuine word out of his throat …. I would never have thought German scholarship could have produced such meanness.” Carl Jung, “Jung” by Gerhard Wehr, Page 100

I think I deserve this much, if only from the standpoint of expediency, for the psychoanalytic movement is indebted to me for its promotion more than Rank, Stekel, Adler, and the rest of them put together. I can only assure you that there is no resistance on my part, unless it be that I refuse to be judged as a complex-laden idiot … , Carl Jung, “Jung” by Gerhard Wehr, Page 148

Love is, psychologically considered, a function of relationship on the one hand and a feeling-toned psychic condition on the other, which, as we have seen, practically coincides with the God-image ~Carl Jung, CW 5, Para 97

From this standpoint, religious ideas are an artificial aid that benefits the unconscious by endowing its compensatory function which, if disregarded, would remain ineffective with a higher value for consciousness. Faith, superstition, or any strongly feeling-toned idea gives the unconscious content a value which ordinary ly it does not possess, but which it might in time attain, though in a very unpleasant form. When, therefore, unconscious contents accumulate as a result of being consistently ignored, they are bound to exert an influence that is pathological ~Carl Jung, CW 10, Para 26

Dr. Jung discusses “Complexes” here:

Carl Jung on Complexes and Ideas

Carl Jung on Power and Inferiority Complexes

Carl Jung on “Complexes”

Carl Jung on “Complexes” – Lexicon