C. G. Jung, the great doctor of the soul and one of the most inspired psychologists of the twentieth century, had incredible insight into what is currently playing out, both individually and collectively, in our modern-day world. He writes, “If, for a moment, we look at mankind as one individual, we see that it is like a man carried away by unconscious powers.” We are a species carried away — “possessed” by — and acting out, the unconscious. Jung elaborates, “Possession, though old-fashioned, has by no means become obsolete; only the name has changed. Formerly they spoke of ‘evil spirits,’ now we call them ‘neurosis’ or ‘unconscious complexes.’”
To condescendingly think that we, as modern-day, rational people, are too sophisticated to believe in something as primitive as demons is to have fallen under the spell of the very evil spirits we are imagining are nonexistent. What the ancients call demons are a psychic phenomena which compel us to act out behaviors contrary to our best intentions. To quote Jung, “…the psychic conditions which breed demons are as actively at work as ever. The demons have not really disappeared but have merely taken on another form: they have become unconscious psychic forces.”
“Possession,” according to Jung is “a primordial psychic phenomenon” that “denotes a peculiar state of mind characterized by the fact that certain psychic contents, the so-called complexes, take over the control of the total personality in place of the ego, at least temporarily, to such a degree that the free will of the ego is suspended.” Though the possessed might imagine they have free will, their freedom is an illusion. They are unwittingly being used as an instrument for some “other” energy or force to incarnate and express itself through them. Having complexes is not necessarily pathological, as everyone has them. What is pathological, however, is thinking we don’t have complexes, which is the precondition that makes us most vulnerable to possession. Jung clarifies, “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 more complexes we have, the more we are possessed. We don’t need to get rid of our complexes, rather, we need to become consciously aware of them. What is important is what we do with our complexes.
Complexes are the psychic agencies which flavor and determine our psychological view of the world. To quote Jung, “The via regia [royal road] to the unconscious, however, is not the dream…but the complex, which is the author of dreams and of symptoms.” Thematically organized (such as the power-complex, savior-complex, mother-complex, inferiority complex, etc.), the complexes are the vehicles that flesh out the rich repository of contents of the underlying archetypes,giving the formless archetypes a specifically human face. Complexes are the living elemental units of the psyche, acting like the focal or nodal points of psychic life, in which the energy charge of the various archetypes of the collective unconscious are concentrated.
An emotionally-charged complex acts like the epicenter of a magnetic field, attracting and potentially assimilating into itself everything that has any resonance, relevance or is related to itself in any way. This inner process can be seen as it en-acts itself in the outer world when we come in contact with someone who has an activated complex and we find ourselves drafted into their process, picking up a role in their psyche. This is an outer reflection of how a complex can attract, co-opt and subsume other parts of the environment, both inner and outer, into itself. Complexes, when split-off from consciousness, can potentially engulf and possess the whole personality……………
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