Perry on the Genesis of Complexes

The following quote helps us think about the early challenges present in the family of origin home environment at the level of what was going on in the psyches of those in charge of our childhood well being. From the ancestral complex perspective page we have Vine Deloria citing Jung and observing: “If the psychology of the parents affected the infant, it was largely because the parents themselves were subject to influences that had been accumulating for many generations. When it came to the individual, Jung considered the person as but a brief episode in a much larger family spanning generations and perhaps centuries: ‘We ought rather to say that it is not so much the parents as their ancestors – the grandparents and great-grandparents – who are the true progenitors, and that these explain the individuality of the children far more then the immediate, so to speak, accidental parents.’” The following Perry quote offers additional help in thinking about how our present day challenges invariably include unfinished emotional material from days gone by.

“… the child’s emotional psyche is not affected by these ego-personalities of the parents anywhere near as much as by the unconscious components in the parents. It is at the level of ‘participation mystique’ and emotional embroilment and interaction that the complexes are formed... The genesis of complexes takes place at the level of the non-ego of the child and the non-ego of the parents, where the really powerful and uncanny parent figures are the reverse ones, the pseudo father and pseudo mother; that is, mother’s animus and father’s anima. In relation to these figures the child is apt to slip into affect-ego positions and respond with his own complexes in emotional interactions. So it is of the various other complexes that take shape along the way: they are the product of emotional relationships, bearing the imprint of non-ego and subliminal aspects of the personalities of these significant figures. They arise out of affect-objects, not true objects.” (My italics and bold)

Perry’s language around affect ego – affect object offers a way for us to think about the importance of sorting out “Am I present and conscious in this moment, or, am I succumbing to the heightened emotional state associated with the blur, signifying a/my/our complex is constellating? He observes: ‘During the emotion the energetic value of the ego is lessened, and that of the complex heightened, and in this situation one should speak of an interrelation of an affect-ego and an affect-object.‘ This affect-ego/affect-object language is such a concise way to help us reflect on being conscious within the blur; the intensity of emotion suggests the degree to which we are experiencing through a lense of projected and/or introjected emotion. Orienting to the  level of the non-ego is by definition remarkably complex! Learning to help each other recognize when we are under pressure from intense emotion is more manageable.

John Weir Perry paper: Emotion and Object Relations

Deloria, Vine, Jr., C.G. Jung and the Sioux Traditions, 2009, pp. 133-134.

Explore posts in the same categories: Complexes and More

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