Below are selected quotes from John Weir Perry’s seminal paper titled Emotions and Object Relations.

“To summarize, I find the occurrence of any emotion to consist of the interplay between two complexes. The entire emotional life is structured in bipolar systems or pairs of these complexes. The subject experiences the affect that belongs to the complex with which the ego aligns itself, and assigns the other pole to the object. 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.

In such a moment there is a modification of the apperception of both subject and object, by projecting upon each the images that belong to the bipolar pair of complexes: the self-image is altered, and also the image of the object. Yet it is by the interplay of these complexes, as components of development, that the growth of consciousness and the rounding out of the full personality takes place. The resolution of complexes appears to depend mainly upon the proper development of the self-image, which as it grows firmly established, allows fewer and shorter illusory skirmishes into inappropriate affect-ego states in relation to affect-objects.

(Note the terms affect-ego and affect-object are used to indicate the conditions associated with an activation of  complexes, where in) “…the essential emotional interaction is then not between subject and object, but between two complexes within the the psyche. …Any emotional event finds the ego not quite itself, and object not quite itself. In this sense, an emotion is a maladaptedness, as Jung pointed out, ‘Affects always occur when there is a failure of adaptation’ (Jung 1921 p. 597)

(More on the differentiation of feeling vs emotion:)

…feeling is of a different order from that of emotion; feeling is a function of consciousness, and – to the degree to which it is differentiated – has the quality of choice and intentionality in judgments of value…

‘…emotions are the activity of the unconscious, the non-ego’ (Jung, 1907)

‘…emotions are autonomous and happen to the ego without its bidding, and the ego is the recipient of the impact of the emotions’ (Jung, 1939, 1943).

…we think of the unconscious as being the autonomous psyche, and it can as well be called the emotional psyche…

Jung spoke of the play of the emotions as being identical with the activation of the complexes (Jung 1943, 1926, 1907). Further, he also visualized the dynamic nucleus of any complex to be composed (in part: the nucleus is composed of an archetype and representation of the object that first evoked it.) of an archetype, which he regarded as its “affective foundation” (Jung). The archetypes… manifest…in the form of both image and emotion, simultaneously (Jung). The image renders the meaning of the emotion; the emotion gives the image its dynamism (Jung 1963). In such a model, we visualize as many emotions as there are images…

…I have come to use the term affect-image… for the archetypal phenomena that we encounter in therapy. The term has the advantage of meaning exactly what it says and rendering its own definition….

Objects, as they actually are, emerge only with the growth of consciousness and the differentiation of the ego, freeing it from the tangle of alignments with the various complexes that move across the affective stage.

All this means that in terms of natural experience of the everyday kind, the unconscious is found ‘out there’ in the state of projection in the emotional life. …whatever is activated in the unconscious is encountered in projection… in projection onto the object and onto the subject…

‘A complex can be really overcome only if it is lived out to the full. In other words, if we are to develop further, we have to draw to us and drink down to the very dregs what, because of our complexes we have held at a distance.’ (Jung, 1938/1954. pp. 96-99).

Complexes, in their favorable aspect equal components of development. The repetition compulsion, as has been pointed out so often, provides the ego the occasion again and again to encounter these rejected components of development in order finally to assimilate them in some happy moments….

This means that when we grow and develop our horizons of awareness by assimilating contents from the unconscious – from the emotional psyche – we are actually retrieving the greater part of them from the outer world of our emotional involvement. We do indeed reap what we sow: the psyche in its wisdom distributes our components of development out into our world of involvements, each in its due season, and we go about gleaning our harvest from this emotional field to nourish our consciousness….

Jung: ‘…conflict engenders fire, the fire of affects and emotions, and like every other fire, it has two aspects, that of combustion and that of creating light…for emotion is the chief source of consciousness. There is no change from darkness to light or from inertia to movement without emotion…’

From the fire of the passionate life grows the light of awareness, but the activeness of the ego’s attitude decides the gains or losses. If the ego is passive and allows the contents to remain habitually ensconced in their emotional form, there may be only gain on the side of the unconscious. In their emotional form the images remain merely intimations of meaning; one can speak of true understanding only when the meaning is recognized by an active ego-consciousness and adopted into its structure of values and meanings. Instead of passively allowing an affect-ego to relate to the affect-object, without the effort of understanding, the active ego intervenes, insisting upon an assimilation of the meaning over a period of time….

Even for the deepest archetypal experiences, such as those of the central archetype of the self, the bipolar arrangement applies as it does with any other emotional contents. However, in this case the extraordinary possibility arises of the embracing of the polarity in a single unifying image. I am continually impressed with the consistency with which this archetypal affect-image arises in the framework of relationship: the most familiar instance is the transference in therapy, but I see little difference when it is making its appearance in ordinary life situations apart from this procedure….

I therefore see the entire psyche as structured not only in complexes, but in their bipolar systems or arrangements: the occurrence of an emotion requires the interplay of two complexes, and habitual emotions belong to habitual pairs. For every mother complex there has to be a child, for every princess anima a princely lover, for every awesome father a son, and for every overwhelming monster a fearful human. The problem of conceptualizing the emotional event is a matter of understanding what happens at the interface between the two poles, where the ego adopts and experiences one affect, and relegates the opposite member of the bipolar pair to its object. I therefore do not visualize a model of the unconscious in which the complexes are randomly arranged, but rather one in which the complexes are arranged in bipolar systems or pairs; they may be envisaged as opposing entities (much like the upper and lower teeth in their apposition)…

In the matter of genesis, we are in the habit…of looking to the mother as the source of influence of the specific qualities of the anima, and to the father for those of the animus. … But 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. This means that the far more frequent source of influence giving shape, for example, to the anima is the mother’s shadow and the father’s anima; and to the animus, the father’s shadow and the mother’s animus. 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.”

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