Monday, September 8, 2008

Oedipus Denied . . . not so fast!

by Mel Mathews

Whether we know it, or not, whether we care to or are able to admit it, every human being is influenced by psychological ‘complexes’. In The Complex: Path of Transformation from Archetype to Ego, Erel Shalit explains the difference between an ‘autonomous complex’ and an integrated complex. Shalit explains, “The fundamental task of the complex is to serve as a vehicle and vessel of transformation…” In other words, psychological complexes are not to be gotten rid of. Quite the contrary, complexes are necessary aspects of our being and when we are able to recognize and develop a dialogue or an ongoing conscious relationship with these complexes, these aspects of our humanity can be expressed and honored in a healthy and often creative manner.

A complex becomes troublesome when it is denied and splits off from our greater whole, as is the case with the Oedipus myth. In studying and deciphering the symbolic meaning of the Oedipus myth, Erel Shalit explains how a complex that has the potential to bring us into living a fuller, more conscious existence, is often denied and splits off into an ‘autonomous’ complex. Denying a complex, an aspect of who we are, does not cause this entity to go away. Instead, the denied castaway becomes ‘autonomous’ energy and unconsciously continues to live a life of its own, often wreaking havoc that is acted out in a host of neurotic symptoms.

In recognizing and welcoming home these prodigal complexes, vital pieces of our beings, we are able to reclaim lost aspects of our souls, and in turn unblock the stymied flow of psychological and creative energy that often gets dammed up and diverted into neurotic symptoms and suffering.

This publication addresses far more than just the Oedipal Complex. Dr. Shalit also delves into the Father Complex and the Mother Complex in both negative and positive forms. Client’s dreams and case studies are also discussed to bring theory into more concrete and practical terms.

For those interested in psychology, myth, religion, and philosophy, but even more so to those who might be suffering from a host of neurotic symptoms, including addictions or obsessive compulsive tendencies, I highly recommend The Complex: Path of Transformation from Archetype to Ego (ISBN 978-0919123991) as well as Erel Shalit’s most recently published book Enemy, Cripple, Beggar: Shadows in the Hero’s Path (ISBN 978-0977607679).

Mel Mathews' book reviews have been published in USA Today and many other notable publications. He is the author of The Chronicles of a Wandering Soul series. His books are available directly from his website at: 

© 2008 Mel Mathews - permission to reprint this article is granted

1 comment :

  1. Thank you Mel for your inspiring review of some of the important aspects of Erel Shalit's book. Even as an analyst, it can be easy to forget, especially when working daily with analysands suffering from the ill effects of complexes, that they are there as transformational opportunities, not as entities to be eradicated. This was one of Jung's most important contributions, and to this day sets his approach apart from other psychologies. Looking for the cure in the sickness, the way out of the neurosis through the neurosis; and the idea that complexes can help us reclaim lost parts of our souls, is still a radical mode of looking at treatment today. It runs counter to a medical model approach to psychology (cut the damn thing out!) but parallel to how the soul itself seems to dance with its "illnesses". Another read through this book seems in order!