A Bullet in the Chamber: A Jungian Perspective on a Murderous Gun ComplexAnja van Kralingen
- His initial application for a gun license was rejected and at the time of the shooting he had 6 applications pending for a variety of weapons
- He nearly shot a friend at a restaurant whilst looking at someone else’s gun
- His Nike advert was titled “Bullet in the chamber”
- He apparently kept his gun on him at all times
- He told The New York Times that when a house security alarm went off recently, he grabbed the gun he kept by his bed and crept downstairs. It turned out to be nothing.
- In November, he tweeted about mistaking his washing machine for a burglar. (“Nothing like getting home to hear the washing machine on and thinking it’s an intruder to go into full combat recon mode into the pantry!” he wrote)
A complex is a grouping together of emotions, beliefs, ideals, images around a specific idea. These complexes populate the psyche and can be either (partially) conscious or unconscious.
Complexes come about as a result of a split in the psyche. This split can be caused by trauma, but most often it is the result a moral split. This happens when the subject has an inner conflict regarding an event. The whole being is incapable of assimilating or understanding a situation and this dilemma results in a split. Consciously there is one position, but unconsciously there is another position.
Complexes can be conscious or integrated into consciousness, e.g. a talent. Alternatively, they can be unconscious and unknown to the ego consciousness.
Unconscious complexes have their own goals and intentions that oppose the conscious ego. These complexes are autonomous and assert influence over the ego consciousness which affects and influence the ego consciousness ability to make decisions and challenge the ego’s autonomy. A neurotic complex will create a problem for the ego consciousness. This problem will trap the subject by not allowing it to let go of it. The subject will then be stuck in the problem and not able to move on or resolve the issue.
A psychotic complex totally overpowers the ego and the subject will not be able to function normally within society; at least not whilst in the grip of that complex.
Complexes usurp power from the ego when consciousness is lowered. Consciousness is lowered when a person is subjected to high levels of stress, physical exhaustion, emotional upheaval, inebriation or drugs. When consciousness is lowered, the complex will exert itself and express itself in saying inappropriate things or displaying inappropriate behaviour. The ego often remains unconscious of the behaviour by immediately blocking it out or forgetting what happened. But if it is remembered, the subject will be confused as to why they behaved in that way. They will not take responsibility for the behaviour and blame it on an external event or often say they were not themselves. In primitive cultures it would often be referred to as being possessed.
Identifying a complex can be achieved by becoming aware of the subjects’ emotional responses and projections. When there is an emotional response to an individual or organization, the subject is projecting their own unconscious content onto the external party. This is a good indication that there is a complex present. The complex can also present itself through fantasies and dreams.
Unconscious Complexes can be integrated into consciousness, if identified, accepted, articulated and assimilated. By becoming conscious of the complexes active in your own life, the projection onto the other is removed. This process of becoming conscious grounded Jung’s later theories on individuation.
“The devil made me do it,”that many a scoundrel has used as the last line of defense, does not void said individual of responsibility. Nevertheless there is something to it. Our psychologies are home to a few angels, if we are so blessed, and, almost undoubtedly, to a plurality of demons. These characters will act for themselves, quite literally, and not infrequently their agenda will be quite contrary to your conscious agenda. Recognizing this uncomfortable truth about yourself is a good starting point. The image of your psychology being made up of many small islands (each island being a complex) around a central island being the ego is a useful way of imagining this. Your psychology is not as unified as you may believe it to be. With this recognition in place the process of identifying these complexes can begin. Identifying and entering into an inner dialogue with them is time well spent. Far better surely than the awfully high price of having them unconsciously direct your life. Although the Oscar Pistorius case is a dramatic one, and not everyone necessarily harbors violent or murderous complexes, it is illustrative of how the unattended, unconscious or repressed complex can take the reins. And in doing this, it can lead you down a path you may well not have chosen in a more lucid and coherent frame of mind.