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Reply To: Myth: The Grammar of Creativity,” with Bradley Olson, Ph.D.”


Professor Olson; What a tremendous essay you have laid out and so much to draw from which I not only have gotten so much insight; but I wonder if you would elaborate further concerning the relationship between: “archetypes and complexes”; (especially the latter). For instance the concept: “core complex” is something that is often referred to in Jungian terminology that has to do with the later-life emergence of buried aspects of the life experience that must be integrated and assimilated as the individual makes the transition from life achievement to life meaning where a new change in emphasis is demanded for growth of the individual to reach his or her intended full potential.

Often a crisis or trauma calls this aspect forth as messenger of the psyche that the individual is compelled and must make the required alchemical adjustments that the large (S)elf as the central or guiding archetype of the entire psyche; (not to be confused with the little (s)elf as ego); must answer. This code or script that is orchestrating this huge life change; (individuation); begins to transform the entire push forward toward resolution within the life process toward it’s final destination of; (as Joseph would say the dark gate) or death.

I will leave a couple things below to attempt a better description of what I’m asking your thoughts on because usually when this subject comes up Myths are what are used as metaphoric descriptors and the word (“complex” is often excluded). It is often said as Shaheda brought up in a separate discussion: “that we don’t have complexes; complexes have us”. And indeed I think it is often understood that in Jungian therapy or analysis that to get to the root of a crisis or emotional trauma the complex that is driving it must be identified and integrated so that the transcendent function can create a new symbol for the gradient flow of psychic energy; (libido); to instigate the necessary change the psyche is asking for to move forward from it’s blockage; (yes?). (I realize this is a rather convoluted explanation but please bear with me.)

So here is my first clarifier from a previous discussion:


In Stephen Larson’s: “The Mythic Image” on page 14:

“But Jung showed that while our (normal) sense of personal identity is forever threatening to dissolve at its deepest boundary into the mythic archetypes of the collective unconscious, once a person has accepted this (essential unreality of one’s own nature), he or she is for the first time in a position to construct an authentic selfhood (individuation, the creative, integrated psyche).

Individuation is to normal as normal is to neurotic, and neurotic is to psychotic. And this hierarchical model of integration-disintegration suggests that it is not the presence or absence of mythic themes in personal psychology that determines sanity, but how the ego relates to these. The cards we have been dealt by fate are a hand from a recognizable deck, which like the Tarot, is made up of a finite number of archetypal forms (fools, magicians, priestesses, hanged men, and so forth). Whether one is simply possessed by these recurring archetypes or may learn to relate to them in a creative dialogue would seem to make all the difference. Jung said, “Man must not dissolve into a whirl of warring possibilities and tendencies imposed upon him by the unconscious, but must become the unity that embraces them all.” (C.G. Jung The Practice of Psychotherapy 197.)

And here is the second topic clarifier concerning the relationship of: “Complexes” to your deep and insightful essay in the form of a short clip from Jungian analyst; James Hollis. (So in other words if I’m understanding these concepts correctly in their proper application the mission of the individuation process is to identify and integrate what the “emotion-toned messages of the “Core Complex” are saying; so that like the “chrysalis” process of the larva or worm to transform into the Moth or Butterfly this alchemical process must take place; yes?). Again; sorry this explanation was not clearer. (Thank you in advance for your kind thoughts.)


I’m going to include an additional clip that has Murray Stein giving a much more in depth description on what a “Core Complex” is so as not to confuse the issue I’m attempting to address. In other words from my limited understanding this type of complex is a central focus dynamic that responds to much of the emotional tone-based stimuli that helps to shape the self-image. Analyst Mario Jacoby addressed this theme in an earlier book: “Shame and the Origins of Self-Esteem – A Jungian Approach”; which was part of a series of 5 books he wrote before he died in 2011. Stein addresses some of the ideas in those books in this link. The other books he wrote on this are: “The Analytic Encounter – Transference and Human Relationship”; “Longing for Paradise – Psychological Perspectives on an Archetype”; “Individuation and Narcissism – the psychology of self in Jung & Kohut”; and “Jungian Psychotherapy & Contemporary Infant Research”.

I do not in any way want to present an impression that I have anything more than a very limited knowledge on this topic concerning a “Core Complex”; but after spending many days immersed in these works these are my impressions so far; which is one of the reasons I’m asking these questions as they relate to many of Joseph’s themes. To me they seem to match up and down his ideas; so your thoughts on this would be extremely appreciated. (Stephen of course may have things to contribute that may disagree with my impressions since I am not a Campbell or Jungian scholar. But this is what the material seems to say to me on this subject.) Thanks for taking the time to read this.