A complex encompasses a series of symptoms that are associated with unusual behavior, which will even mark a before and after in what was the usual personality of the affected person. That is to say, it is a psychopathology that seriously affects the way of thinking and behaving , consequently one begins to face difficulties to face certain situations.
Until now, it has been possible to identify a multiple diversity of complexes , each one of them has unique characteristics, which make them identifiable from the rest. Some of them are recognized from names that are assigned by association to certain historical, mythological or cultural characters; which coincidentally fit this profile.
One of the most recognized is called the Bovary Complex, it describes a psychopathology characterized by melancholy and dissatisfaction. They are individuals who cannot accept reality as it is, they are always in a state of frustration due to the incongruities between their personal lives and their aspirations.
What is the Bovary complex?
The Bovary complex is also known as the complex of people dissatisfied with their lives . It is a psychological condition characterized by the clear manifestation of a mental state that rejects reality. That is, it is suffered by people who experience conflict with respect to their current life which did not fit their aspirations or desires.
It is normal for people to occasionally feel uncomfortable with the life that they have to live, however in this case there is a worsening of this disagreement. Then, these patients will constantly feel frustrated and therefore will adopt avoidant behaviors; as a way to deal with this situation. Consequently, it is common for them to “daydream” or even to believe certain information that they have created as true.
What is the origin of its name?
The origin of the term is found in one of the most important French literary works of the last century. The association lies in the fact that the protagonist of this story precisely showed characteristics that fit this complex. This work is authored by Gustave Flaubert and the name of his most recognized work worldwide is Madame Bovary .
It relates the experiences of a young woman who is fond of romantic novels, therefore she tries to transfer these fictitious situations to her real life. Due to the conflict that generates not being able to lead the life you want , the closest thing to these stories, you will have to face the harsh reality with its limitations. The development of the plot eventually takes us to a future where the protagonist’s life ends badly.
This character has all the characteristics of this type of complex. The frustration you experience in realizing that real life doesn’t always allow our wishes to be fulfilled is clearly outlined. Not only dreams or aspirations are raised, but rather more specific goals that are associated with vital goals that give you a purpose for living. The author himself adds details that allow us to better understand the behavior of people who develop this complex, a good example is daydreaming and dissociation from reality .
The term bovarismo has been popularized by inspiration of this novel, it is used to refer to the conflict that a fantasy generates and its contrast with real life . It can also be understood as a type of self-defense mechanism which works unconsciously to be able to deal with certain stressful situations.
What happened with Madame Bovary is similar to what is related in another famous literary work which he is Don Quixote. In this case, the protagonist of the famous chivalric novels believed that he was really a knight errant. However, the difference between both cases is the severity in how these thoughts affect the person himself and also those around him . In Flaubert’s work it will be reflected how these people negatively influence their closest family and social circle.
What are their characteristics?
Because this is a behavioral disorder, its most outstanding characteristics are manifested in the way of behaving. In other words, these are people whose dissociation from reality is clearly perceived. It is a consequence of the idealization of personal aspects that they want to adjust to their expectations, however they must face a continuous state of frustration and disappointment.
It is also described as a mental condition that violates the mental stability of people who idealize the concept of love . For this reason, it is usual that they always try to live loving experiences in their romantic relationships that finally do not satisfy them. They maintain an unrealistic perspective of what a relationship really is.
The main characteristics of this condition are described below . However, it is important to note that they do not always manifest all together, because it depends on how it has developed in each patient. They are as follows:
- For psychologists the main symptom is the melancholic state . This is characterized by encompassing a series of serious behaviors such as obsession and depression.
- Chronic emotional dissatisfaction. The first time this characteristic was mentioned was in 1892 by the philosopher Jules de Gaultier, in an analytical essay on Emma Bovary.
- The addiction to romanticism and everything related to this topic. It is an escape route from your daily routine and your usual problems. The goal of these people is to try to bring to reality everything that they find pleasant in fictional stories of movies, series or books of the romantic genre.
- They tend to be infatuated with fantasies or idealizations, which they cannot finally adapt to their lives. They will try to do the impossible to change those aspects that they reject.
- They experience the inability to maintain a stable relationship because they have erratic behavior. They are prone to creating tormented affective relationships, they can even be unfaithful.
- They are always dissatisfied because they constantly point out defects . Being frustrated eventually causes them to have a disinterested behavior in those relationships or situations that do not conform to their ideals.
- They try to avoid monotony in the daily life of their lives. They tend to show enthusiasm to live new experiences, they are always very active.
- When they find a person to love, they will try to maintain the stability of that relationship by embracing their tastes and hobbies. This mimesis is exaggerated and is usually hidden behind the mask of admiration , however it is the fear of abandonment.
Practical examples. How is it identified?
The classic example that is directly related to this complex is marital dissatisfaction. They can occur in people of both genders and cause significant changes in behavior. These people will try to evade reality by creating an alternative where they feel that they live a full life, which fits their aspirations. But even to achieve this task they can fall into actions of notorious gravity such as infidelity.
An example of how this condition affects people is the blind belief of certain ideas. This is the case of those people who idealize their “heroes”, which may be people within the same social or family group. This situation is clearly perceived in daughters and wives who truly believe that their fathers or husbands are the best in the world.
It can also be the case of those individuals who defend ideals or social struggles that they believe are the correct ones. They are permanently integrated into their private lives causing radical changes. Another example is the people belonging to the soccer fans, these people are blindly convinced that their idols in this sport are the best. In the most extreme cases they will show defensive and violent behavior in order to support this belief.
What are your causes?
The people who are most likely to develop this condition are those who experience constant emotional dissatisfaction . They tend to be obsessive but also passionate about those topics that are of interest to them. Consequently, they feel frustrated at not being able to relate their ideals to the life they are actually having.
Also one of the causes is found in a state of chronic depression . This is especially relevant in young patients or in those who have just entered adulthood. In both cases, the conflict generated by having to make changes in personal life and adopt new responsibilities is observed.
As in the literary work in which his name is inspired, it is also important to mention that statistically most of the patients belong to the female gender. Specifically patients who occupy roles such as wives and mothers. Sometimes, people belonging to this sector of the population still try to pursue aspirations, which they could not carry out for reasons beyond their control.
It must also be considered that in some societies greater pressure is exerted on what the role of women is, in contrast to that of men. In this case there is a disadvantageous relationship, where the woman must fulfill certain obligations . For example, wives who marry without loving their partners or women who are forced to procreate and be mothers.
The incidence of this psychopathology is currently also recurrent in men. The role of this sector is also subject to certain pressures, which can significantly affect certain individuals. Likewise, mention should be made of those patients who have had problems with affective deficiencies during childhood . Abandonment encourages the search for a sentimental partner who provides the attention that has been denied them.
How is it overcome and what are the most recommended treatments?
It is important to help patients develop less dependence on fantasy and imagination. Some individuals create an arc of tendency to these mental mechanisms to be able to face the day to day, they must learn that unreality does not dominate them. The efforts between the patient and the therapist will be directed towards learning to accept reality, even in moments of happiness and also the saddest ones. In this way, the propensity to create an invented life is reduced than to create limitations when interacting with other people
Psychological therapy provides the right tools to deal with this condition. Affected people begin to observe favorable changes from the first session, eventually it will be possible to identify those aspects of childhood that could contribute to underdevelopment. The sentimental, social, affective, family and work situation will also be analyzed; it is possible that in some of these settings the patient is facing difficulties.
Due to the fact that it was a behavioral alteration, the treatment applied for these cases should take into account not only aspects of the behavior, but also cognitive aspects, modifying thought . For this, the therapist or psychologist in charge of directing these sessions will deepen the beliefs, both the realistic ones and those that have been unconsciously created. Mainly it works on improving the patient’s self – esteem .
It is necessary to follow a process of reflection and analysis regarding the emotions and experiences that have triggered this mental state. During this process, the patient himself will realize how these elements have affected his life, but also that of people around him.
Likewise, attention should be focused on the possibility of developing dependent personality disorder. The mental vulnerability of these patients makes them prone to bonding based on ideals that they have created. They should delve into these problems in order to achieve positive changes in their mental patterns .
Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.