Ancestral Complex Perspective

This image depicts the Experiential State as a trajectory informed by the hardships, joys, and sorrows of the ancestral line, from the great-great grandparents forward.

This collective body informs the Mother/Father Other today in creating the present day complex infused holding environment. While lengthy, this eloquent quote from Vine Deloria from his observations on the individual and kinship really sets the stage:

“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 raw material of the infant psyche, then was only secondarily derived from the parents:

‘The true psychic individuality of the child is something new in respect of the parents and cannot be derived from their psyche. It is a combination of collective factors which are only potentially present in the parental psyche and are sometimes wholly invisible. Not only the child’s body, but his soul, too, proceeds from his ancestry, in so far as it is individually distinct from the collective psyche of mankind.’

The psychological conflict of early childhood must therefore reflect an adjustment to the immediate environment of the psychic factors inherited from previous generations.” (Deloria, Vine, Jr., C.G. Jung and the Sioux Traditions, 2009, pp. 133-134.)

From the personal developmental history perspective, traumatic losses and emotional, physical, and sexual abuse experiences, averaged and generalized over time, contribute to primitive invariant organizing principles and drive the transference.

From a complex perspective, these scenes depict points of overwhelm potentially necessitating the activation of an archetypal protector complex, described by Donald Kalsched as psyche’s self-care system. This is “a sophisticated system of defenses that employs dissociation and splitting to compartmentalize intolerable aspects of experience .. It consists of an interlocking set of self and object-representations—usually an inner “child” and its protective or persecutory “guardian.” (Kalsched, Donald, The Inner World of Trauma: Archetypal Defenses of the Personal Spirit, London and New York, Routledge, 1996).

However the ancestors negotiated their survival, what was split off from consciousness then, as well as in our family systems today, continues to live on in the unconscious-to-ego bodies of the adults and the children who are particularly vulnerable to absorbing not-consciously-related-to-affects. These powerful non-ego undercurrents dictate the degree of emotional embroilment of the child’s psyche (Perry.) Until we find a way to bring consciousness to these wounds to loving, we will head into the world longing for someone with whom we experience a deeply nostalgic emotional connection.

The Ancestral Complex Perspective suggests a pathway to recognizing the presence of an archetypal alignment associated with an ancestrally activated complex which continues to exert influence down through the generations. It seems important to have a way to recognize this level of transmission. Can we accomplish what they couldn’t?

One Comment on “Ancestral Complex Perspective”


  1. […] 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 Jung observing: ‘We ought rather to say that it is not so much the parents as […]


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