In psychology the term complex is used to refer to those mental conditions that are characterized by a set of unconscious feelings. These depend largely on previous experiences during childhood or early adulthood. These same aspects condition the personality of the individual in such a way that behavior and even mentality are modified.

The first time mention was made of disorders of this type was in the middle of the last century, the famous psychologist Carl Jung disseminated information about his research in relation to Freudian analysis. It proposes that some individuals are more likely to develop this type of disorder because they are highly sensitive to the environment and have a deficit in emotional management.

Eventually this would be a concept that would gain more followers within the world of modern psychology. Subsequently, an extensive list would be created where different types of complexes are taken into account , until now several of them have been identified, although some remain to be confirmed. These same have been named taking as reference to historical characters, mythology, literary works and even biblical references.

Each type of complex has been identified taking into account the particular characteristics that promote the change in the patient’s personality . This means that each of them has similarities but also differences. Below we analyze one of them, which is named after the Brunhilda complex.

What is the Brunhilda complex?

The Brunhilda complex is a psychopathology characterized by the obsession to make the sentimental partner adopt the characteristics of a “superhero”. As in other types of complexes, in this case there is an exacerbated need to change aspects that are somehow annoying.

In this case it is a condition that usually develops in women, they find unattractive qualities in their partners; for which they decide to focus on achieving change. However, this complex may develop in a different way, otherwise the couple may be idealized, believing that they actually have the capabilities of a “hero”.

Another peculiarity of this condition is that whoever suffers from it can become the “villain”. In other words, their obsession is so intense that they will carry out any type of action or decision in order to achieve their goal, even if that means harming third parties. Consequently, it could be assumed that it is a complex that is based on the need to adjust to one’s own fantasies or ideals to people who cannot precisely fit into them.

What is the origin of the name?

The origin of the name of this complex is found in Norse mythology. It specifically refers to Brunhilda who was a Valkyrie , that is, a group of demigoddesses who were virgins and were characterized by having exceptional physical strength. They were recognized by their hard cuirass armor and by being armed with shields and helm.

Brunhilda had a close connection with Odin the God of War of this mythology. It also has a close connection to heroes who have died in battle, they have the ability to maintain communication with both the world of the living and the world of the dead. Precisely the name Valkyrie can be translated as “people who choose the fallen.”

She like the other goddesses is recognized for her physical beauty, strength and intelligence. But they also have a strong, brave and even terrifying character when it comes to going to war. It is usual that stories are related where they participate in fights under the orders of Odin , multiple victories are counted thanks to their participation.

Brunhilda was one of the exceptions when she disobeyed the orders of the God of war she did so by killing one of the warriors without their consent. For this reason, she is exiled and induced into a deep sleep where she herself creates a parallel reality where she finds herself inhabiting a burning castle. It is guarded by a dragon and can only be saved when a heroic man can access the fortress.

Siegfried may another important war hero within Germanic mythology. According to mythological stories, he was in charge of rescuing Brunhilda, using a magic cloak of invisibility and a ring that gave him the power to adapt his body to any shape he wanted.

Because the Valkyries are only willing to marry the man who manages to overcome any kind of problem or physical test, he is the one chosen to marry Brunhilda. However, when he kisses her, he uses the power of the ring to transform himself into the warrior Gunter; Therefore, when she wakes up, she only sees him believing that he is the one. Later she finds out the truth and feels humiliated . He enlists Odin’s help to confer the punishment of death on Siegfried.

The comparison that exists between this mythological story and the psychological complex lies in the behavior that is described in both cases. These are people who initially confer positive qualities on people who they believe can save or protect them. However, later, once they realize what reality is, they decide to attack or harm these same people; believing that they have been deceived .

What are their characteristics?

The main characteristic of Brunhilda’s complex is the unconscious desire for a crush based on the exaltation of positive qualities that are really non-existent. In other words, people who suffer from it consider that their sentimental partner possesses extraordinary capacities that can be similar to those of a “superhero” or a “superman”.

It is usually mentioned that it is a disorder that only develops in women, although it is true that the incidence is higher in female patients ; men are no exception. Anyone is prone to developing it once they identify in their partner the ideal person to protect and care for them.

The consequence of this is to throw themselves completely into the relationship, even in an excessive way they will try to show an obsessive and even jealous affection . The problem arises once they realize what are the characteristics or qualities that this person really possesses. Within their conception, whoever was at first a “superhero” will become a “villain” who has deceived them.

This complex can occur in two different ways . The most common is when the patient truly believes that his romantic partner can conform to the ideal of a hero. Another variant is when instead it will try to make important changes in the personality and behavior of the couple; this is how the objective is to have the “couple of your dreams”.

Practical examples 

The most common example is found in totally exaggerated and unrealistic mentions or references. That is, people who suffer from this complex often describe their romantic partners magnifying qualities. Even when a third person tried to ask about them, patients affected by this condition are jealous and not very receptive to unfavorable opinions. 

The most important thing in these cases to highlight is excessive attention and displays of affection. Likewise, due to the fact that they idealize their partner, they are still extremely tolerable, they can adopt a defensive and even violent behavior when it comes to protecting them. At all costs, it will implement measures that guarantee that no person can get involved or affect said sentimental union.

Likewise, we find examples of another type such as assuming that the couple will be able to help them with certain problems. This is the case of those women who really believe that they will be protected not only economically, but even in other aspects such as social. Once their partners have shown that they have few capacities to deal with situations like this, then the patients are very disappointed.

How is it identified? 

People with this complex are identified by their exaggerated and hasty behavior . In order to maintain the illusion of the perfect man or woman, they will try to carry out any type of action that guarantees the stability of the relationship; even when the consequences are not measured. This means that friction can be created at the social, family and work level. They tend to interfere in aspects of a personal nature in order to show excessive interest and attention in the “ideal partner”.

In these cases it is very important to pay attention to the behavior of both people. Because it can develop in individuals of any gender or age, it can initially go unnoticed assuming it is completely blind infatuation. That is to say, it is normal to think that people find qualities in their partners that are invisible to others. However, their exaggeration and obsession are the negative aspects.

It is usually identified once a point has been reached where the stability of the relationship has been significantly affected. This means that the most common is to use a solution once it has been fully developed. It is very important that there is good communication between both parties , in this way it can be possible to save said relationship in a timely manner.

What are your causes? 

Most psychologists do not agree that it is most likely that this condition develops from the difficulty to fully accept the sentimental partner. That is, at the beginning of a relationship of this type, people tend to suffer an intentional bias that is usually very positive and radical. Consequently, illusions and other expectations are reaffirmed and may even be raised even higher.

Basically, it is about idealizing or overvaluing people while maintaining a non-objective criterion , totally removed from reality. Due to the difficulty where to really analyze the person taking into account what their qualities and defects are, eventually the person affected with this condition will face a significant and intense disappointment.

Once you have been able to really look at your partner as he or she is, the person suffering from this complex begins to devalue and reject them . This stage is key because you can have an unexpected and even disrespectful behavior. This is because the loved one will now play the role of a “villain” or a person who lied from the beginning.

How is it overcome and what are the most recommended treatments? 

Because this is a psychological complex that affects the romantic relationship, it is most likely that at first the use of couples therapy will be decided . The important thing is to achieve a positive transformation in the person who has developed this condition. Now, your partner will be cared for from the point of view of someone who has suffered traumatic abuse. You may need help stabilizing your self-esteem.

Because it is an unconscious complex characterized by extreme overvaluation and idealization , it is very likely that you will face serious difficulties in saving the marriage or relationship. To consolidate a relationship of this type it is necessary that both parties recognize and accept each other. Therefore, couples therapy as well as cognitive behavioral therapy are usually the two most viable options.

The affected person suffers from a highly mental state, influenced by the beliefs and illusions that have been created since the beginning of the relationship. Because these expectations are unrealistic , it is very likely that it will be difficult for the person to figure out for themselves what the reality is. This is how psychotherapy manages to make positive modifications in the patterns of thought and behavior that have caused this problem.

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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.

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