Psychology for Lawyers

understanding ourselves
and our "complexes"


"[C]ertain patterns emerge from [the] unknown depths of our being. We feel their effects . . . as complexes . . . and symptoms, as well as symbols and images that we experience in dreams, fantasies and visions of all kinds."

—Eugene Pascal, Jung to Live By 59 (New York, Warner Books, 1992)

"Complexes are psychic fragments which have split off owing to traumatic influences or certain incompatible tendencies. . . . [C]omplexes interfere with the intentions of the will and disturb the conscious performance; they produce disturbances of memory . . . they appear and disappear according to their own laws; they can temporarily obsess consciousness, or influence speech and action in an unconscious way. In a word, complexes behave like independent beings, a fact especially evident in abnormal states of mind. In the voices heard by the insane they even take on a personal ego-character like that of the spirits who manifest themselves . . . ."

—C.G. Jung, Collected Works: The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche 121, in the Glossary to C.G. Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections 393-394 (New York: Vintage Books/Random House, 1965)

"[A complex, according to Jung, can] hinder or reenforce conscious functioning."

—;Eugene Pascal, Jung to Live By 60 (New York, Warner Books, 1992)

"[A complex] has energy and a life of its own.

* * * *

The activation of a complex is always marked by the presence of some strong emotion . . . ."

—Daryl Sharp, Digesting Jung 11, 9 (Toronto: Inner City Books, 2001)

"[C]omplexes are potentially both positive and negative. Conscious knowledge of the scope and affect of a complex can serve to modify its negative consequences whenever a particular stimulus constellates the complex, that is, activates the images and feelings surrounding the complex within an individual. All complexes have an archetypal component . . . . [A] complex is like a plant, part of which exists and flowers above the ground, in awareness, and part of which extends unseen beneath the ground, where it is anchored and fed, outside of awareness."

—Robert H. Hopcke, A Guided Tour of the Collected Works of C.G. Jung 19 (Boston: Shambhala, 1989)

"Jungians speak of various categories of complexes. Each category is rooted in a particular archetype. Major categories include: father, mother, brother, sister, hero, child . . . . Because of its archetypal root the significance of each complex, its numinosity and some of its contents arise out of the collective unconscious. In many instances—but not all—it is possible to perceive a direct connection between the observable complex—manifested in attitudes and behaviors—and the underlying archetypal figures."

—Mary Ann Matton, "Obstacles & Helps to Self-Understanding," in Mary Ann Mattoon, Jungian Psychology in Perspective (New York: The Free Press, 1985) [online text]

"Complexes, typically eternally recurring human patterns of behavior, are the direct expressions of these archetypes hidden in the deepest strata of the unconscious."

—Eugene Pascal, Jung to Live By 61(New York, Warner Books, 1992)


Daryl Sharp, Digesting Jung: Food for the Journey 9-15 (Toronto: Inner City Books, 2001) [online text of the entire book]

James Hollis, Stories, and Stories, C.G. Jung Society of Atlanta, 2004 [online text]

"Realm of the Complexes," in Eugene Pascal, Jung to Live By 62-64, 66-67, 70-74 (New York: Warner Books, 1992)

"Complexes by Day and Demons by Night," in June Singer, Boundaries of the Soul: The Practice of Jung's Psychology 33-35 (Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Co., 1973)

Betsy Cohen, "Tangled Up in Blue: A Reappraisal of Complex Theory," in Jean Kirsch & Murray Stein (eds.), How and Why We Still Read Jung: Personal and Professional Reflections 128-131 (New York: Routledge, 2013)

Manfred Kets De Vries, Executive Complexes, 36 Organization Dynamics 377 (2007) [online text]


Class Viewing 1: What Is a Complex? [4:16 mins.] [James Hollis] [Hollis is a Jungian analyst and author] ["We have complexes because we have a history." Complexes can be both negative and positive; they can possess us. "Jung called complexes splintered personalities." An understanding of our complexes is "the first step toward consciousness."]

Class Viewing 2: An Overview of Jungian Psychology & Its Value for Today [4:40 mins.] [Rose Holt, Jungian analyst] [end in-class presentation at 2:30 mins.] ["[C]omplexes are the building blocks of personality."] [Holt goes on to comment on Jung's concept of the Self and dreams.]

Class Viewing 3: The Self in Jungian Psychology [6:54 mins.] [Ken James] [Ken James maintains a private practice in Chicago, Illinois. He is a graduate of the C.G. Jung Institute in Chicago.] [short excerpt from a lecture on the self, the ego and the self and Jung's concept of the unconscious[ [a quick review of Jung's structure of the psyche with brief commentary on complexes and how they relate the personal unconscious to the collective unconscious; basic idea: complexes are the organizational structure of the personal unconscious]

Class Viewing 4: Jung & Alchemy: What is your Core Complex? [2:59 mins.] [Murray Stein] [Murray Stein is a Jungian analyst and author of numerous texts that deal with Jung's theories and practices] [end class presentation at 1:02 mins.]

Class Viewing 5: James Hillman on Archetypes [2:59 mins.] [end at 2:11 mins.] [explaining the collective nature of archetypes; relating archetypes to symptoms]

Class Viewing 6: Complexes and Imagination [46:06 mins.] [Verena Kast, training analyst at the C.G. Jung Institute; professor of psychology at the University of Zurich in Switzerland.] [Kast's explanation of complexes begins at 11:23 mins.; a therapeutic application of these ideas begins at 14:08 mins.; end the in-class viewing of the video at 23:10 mins.] [Kast comments on active imagination at 4:08 mins.]

Class Viewing 7: Ken James: On the Transcendent Function [6:54 mins.] [a good summary of Jung's approach to the psyche]

Reference (archetypes find their way into complexes)

Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious: Course Resources


[11:46 mins.] [audio; robotic sounding voice] [what might be called an instructional audio]

Alfred Adler: The Inferiority Complex and the Break with Freud
[9:39 mins.] [audio lecture]

Reference (Web Resources)

Obstacles & Helps to Self-Understandingi
[Mary Ann Mattoon, Jungian Psychology in Perspective (New York: The Free Press, 1985)]

Complexes and Archetypes
[Marcus West]

Jung's Theory of Complexes

The Content of Their Complexes: The Wounded Leadership of Martin Luther King, Jr. & Barack Obama
[Jennifer L. Selig, 5 (3) J. Jungian Scholarly Stud. 1 (2009)]

Reference (Ken James) (Videos)

Approaching the Unconscious
[8:11 mins.]

Dweller on the Threshold
[2:44 mins.]

Imagining Child Development
[3:02 mins.]

Web Resources

Jung's Model of the Psyche
Ann Hopwood

Contact Professor Elkins