In psychology all the individual experiences or experiences that together define ideas, emotions, phenomena and mental processes that shape the personality in a certain way ; it is usually designated by the term complex. It is a condition that reveals a certain dissatisfaction with physical and mental aspects that try to be compensated in one way or another.

A complex also externalizes elements with which a person does not feel comfortable with himself. But also in other cases it is observed that behaviors and ideas are developed that magnify qualities that are only perceived by these people. Feelings and sensations which make up these psychic complexes are subjectively experienced and perceived.

This set of various elements will influence thinking and learning , they become fundamental aspects for these processes. But even the development of a complex will depend on unconscious aspects that are not compatible with the conscious situation or attitude.

This is a mental condition that can suppress or eliminate aspects of one’s own consciousness which will be subject to these dispositions. A complex becomes the personification of dreams or aspirations , but it has a moral conflict that is derived from the impossibility of realizing the totality of a person’s essence.

What is a complex in psychology?

Sigmund Freud considered that the complexes were basically a representation of a conduct or behavior , these are molded according to external influences received from the stage of childhood. On the other hand, for Gustav Jung a complex is the set of ideas that have a strong emotional charge, these will have a direct influence during the development of the personality in different stages of a person’s life.

Etymologically the word complex has its origin in the Latin term “complexus”, this was used to refer to the set or union of various elements. Eventually this word would contribute to the creation of the word that is currently used in the Spanish language, its current conception is used to define a set of elements or themes related to each other .

In psychology the word complex is used to refer to the set of emotions and ideas that are associated with certain censored experiences. That is, a complex defines repressed emotions and thoughts , these same disturb thinking and behavior, negatively influencing the personality. These elements that are in the unconscious significantly affecting the performance and way of proceeding of the affected person.

Another way to understand how a psychological complex works is by taking into account how individual experiences or experiences influence the development of certain behaviors. The integration of these factors contribute to the creation of analytical and dynamic approaches, which will be projected into behavioral approaches.

What are their characteristics? 

A complex can be analyzed from different points of view. In the case of cognitive psychology, it is considered that a complex will always be associated with cognitions, ideas or traces of mimetic processes ; that are structured according to processes such as thinking and learning. On the other hand, for classical psychology memory is more relevant, while for Gestalt psychology it is ideas.

It also takes into account what is proposed by analytical psychology, which is broader. In this case it is observed that a complex is understood as a set structured by impulses and partial and unconscious representations . This means that the complexes can eventually develop as a type of disorder if they are not overcome.

Considering that a complex will appear in each person in a different way, therefore there are a multiple number of characteristics that define each of the types of complexes that have been identified so far. However, a factor in common between this broad typology lies in the formation of self-concept . In other words, people form ideas about themselves that will have a direct impact on their personal life and on how they proceed in their social life.

Certain qualities are assigned by themselves , which will eventually also define their personality. Physical and mental elements will have a great influence when making decisions and performing certain actions. But these are only perceived by themselves, this is the case of the narcissus complex which is characterized by magnifying some personal traits; which contributes to a remarkable in self-esteem.

Another characteristic characteristic of complexes in a generalized way is how they alter consciousness , that is, a break is observed in this unit, making will and memory difficult. A complex is a psychic factor that reduces and controls faculties such as thought and freedom, it is possible that the patient due to these factors begins to carry out certain obsessive acts directly related to the complex he suffers.

Complexes generally have an instinctive character , people inadvertently begin to generate some spontaneous reactions that respond to certain people and situations. Understanding that some complexes have their origin in trauma, by cultural conditioning and some interactions or previous experiences. But those innate aspects of the person must also be taken into account.

Examples of complex 

The most recognized examples are the Oedipus and Electra complexes . Both are characterized by beginning to manifest from an early age, children during this stage show unconscious rejection towards their parent of the same gender. That is, the boy will reject his Father and the girl will reject her Mother.

Instead, they will develop affective attraction and preferential treatment towards the other parent, with clear signs of greater affection and better communication. Another remarkable aspect of these complexes is the possessive attitude with respect to the parent who is preferred. Children will not only demand continued attention, they will also try to protect them and even show jealousy when ignored.

There is also the inferiority complex which is characterized by showing little acceptance for itself. It is usually associated with negative childhood experiences with respect to the abandonment or rejection of the parents. Instead, the superiority complex arises as a reaction to compensate for the inferiority complex, it could be said that it is a means used to deal with the lack of confidence and difficulty in relating to other people.

The Cain complex usually occurs in children who begin to feel displaced by their siblings, so they will try to capture affection and attention by any means. The Peter Pan complex occurs in people whose degree of maturity does not correspond to their biological age, they were adults who have childish attitudes and even tend to avoid certain responsibilities that they will eventually have to face.

What is its importance? 

The concept of complex is important for psychoanalysis because it allows reference to the set of ideas, emotions, desires and unconscious thoughts; which influence the personality and behavior of people. These same are perceived as disturbing and mental aspects that have been repressed or displaced are associated , then these will try to return in various ways, eventually becoming psychically active complexes.

The complexes are made up of memories that have a great emotional intensity and by unconscious representations of the affective plane . Since complexes generally begin to develop from the childhood stage, they become a fundamental part of mental structuring and ties with other people and the environment.

The word complex has become an indispensable tool that helps to synthesize the aforementioned psychological facts in a descriptive way. It is one of the most precise conceptual formations, it is directly related to other phenomena such as the return of the repressed and even to phobias .

But perhaps it is of greater importance as a key conceptual entity for analytical psychology and complex psychology. In this case, it is observed that it has become a much broader and more developed concept, some experts consider that it has a more specific explanation here. A complex is the set of concepts and images that have a strong emotional charge, these influence the personality and autonomy.

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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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