It seems like a lot of young men are struggling with their own mother complex, and they struggle to disidentify with that and find their own resources to fulfil their genomic potential.
But as with all these things, these complexes, you have to be able to identify it there and see it's there in your life.
And we mention it because we see so much of it at the moment - a huge amount - almost on a daily basis and typically the young men we're seeing are probably in their early 20s and we're seeing more and more of them, as it's just coming up over and over again.
It's the identification they have internally with respect to their ego identity, from the influence of their mother, as the prime imprinter of the anima - all this being said in classical Jungian terms and it's the persistence of that and how that then affects every single relationship in their life.
And it's awful - it is actually and I would definitely go so far as to say that.
It is. Clearly the one thing we want from our mothers is affirmation as to who we are, versus who they might want us to be and there in is the collision.
A lot of these young men are living out the unfulfilled potential of their own parents and where it's active, it's life sapping.
They're suffering in all sorts of ways- psychosocial relationships, psychosomatic issues, there are all sorts of problems.
Career choices, partner choices...
You even see it manifest through typology which I think is interesting - you either see them manifest their mother's type, or resist it and the resistance I think is really interesting because you can see in Myers' Briggs terms, the inferior function coming through to challenge the mother's dominant type which they actually answer the MBTI as, or in an unclear way. For example, if someone had introverted feeling and they manifest extroverted thinking and this is all unconscious, they don't know they're doing it.
But that obviously a homeostatic attempt to contradict the influence negatively of the mother complex which is operating in them in that way - you get a very undifferentiated type then.
But people who follow Myers Briggs then, as it's popularly used on line and its derivations, sometimes ignore the type that not everybody has a differentiated type all the time - we move in and out - but you can pick up the pathological echo in where the disturbances are in terms of response and sometimes it really shows up markedly like this.
Yes it does and the other thing is that, not wishing to generalise, for some women and some mothers they'd almost rather their sons be gay, or it sounds awful, be dead, rather than form relationships with real women and it's the ultimate way to keeping their sons attached to them and not go out into the real world and to mate and relate like they should do and is intended for them genomically.
It's a terrible wound but it's one of those things not routinely talked about.
I mean we talk fathers and sons a lot, and the conflict that exists here, but the mother's role is more subtle and harder to identify but it's no less malignant where it's operating pathologically but it just seems to be an upsurge of young men with this particular complex.
Could that potentially be lockdown related - in one of two ways for example it could be you're locked in with your mum.
Or it could be this idea that the state's causing you to be locked in - and almost acting like a parent.
Yes, well we talk about the nanny state.
Yes you do, absolutely and that can feel cloying and oppressive and suffocating and all of those adjectives that come to mind. Because that's what it's like from the inside looking out, when you see this thing at work - not just in sons' lives but daughters' lives when their mothers are overprotective or some other reason why they want to keep their children attached to them.
It is going to be amplified by lockdown, and particularly if you're still living with your mother in the same house and it's difficult to create any physical space between you - it's almost like being doubly trapped.
That's not to say if you physically separate you don't suffer from these things - you do - because you still carry it psychologically.
But I think if you're carrying it physically and psychologically - sharing a house or a dwelling of some kind - then that must amplify it and it must be awful for some people
The so called archetype of the devouring mother - and I'm saying "so called" because I think this is an opportunity to analyse what an archetype is - where does that come from and where does it reside?
If it's an archetype then we've all got it - even daughters can have it and be supposedly consumed in that way.
We all have an image that's based on something biological that says there is a devouring mother OR do we individually experience that when it's happening and when it doesn't happen, we therefore don't experience it in that way and does that mean for those people where it doesn't happen... that archetype doesn't exist? Or is it simply latent and hasn't been triggered?
Well, maybe. But that's a bit of a ghost in the machine.
What we can be sure of is that there is a representation of a devouring mother that is persistent through culture and is passed on through fairy tales and myths, through other media we have. So that exists out there and there are individuals out there that experience it - does that make it an archetype or an individual experience?
All of that that I've said just now can be demonstrated, but to say there's an archetype that is biological, how on earth can you ever prove that?
It's an unnecessary hypothesis you don't need to explain what actually happens.
But what will actually happen is instinct.
And to find that, what you do is you look at the role of the mother in giving birth and the attachment the mother will have to that child and therefore the attachment instinct, coming back toward the mother and then what happens to women as they get older and their offspring want to leave... these are all based on instincts and not archetypes.
The so called archetypes are the product of those instincts and their expressions, and then their representation through culture, transgenerationally.
But where's the biological archetype? It's not there. But the instinct? It's there and you can analyse them and they are repeated patterns.
So when we talk about the devouring mother archetype, we should really be talking about a culturally represented experience that is collective for *a lot* of people but the roots of that are instinctive.
In a clinical sense, if you want to help someone who is the victim of this, you have to get down to instincts, that's where the healing is, not at the cultural representation - it won't help you.
That provides a *vessel* to contain what's happened to you, but it's not a biological archetype, it's a cultural narrative.
You can definitely bring them into someone clinically into their life their knowledge their experience, and use it to say to them, "this is what's happened to you in the past", but what we're going to actually *do* to help you, we're going to have to get into your instincts.
And understand your mothers' instincts for why she might have done that and what frustrations there might have been in her life. But when you do that you find the web of connections is huge. It goes back to her parents perhaps even her father and what archetype are you talking about then - you're talking about a whole network of interactions and biological instinctive roles, knit together and mirrored in a cultural narrative.
There is no biological archetype - it's a fantasy - you don't need it to explain what's going on.
I know that's another one of those very tough red pills, but it's true.
If you want to take the blue pill of it being some biological, independently functional image of something you're born with in your head, that's fine and it might help you, but it won't solve clinical problems and it's unnecessary distraction.
Yeh, it avoids the personal component. So you could say to a person, "you have a devouring mother" and they're going to say, "I know... what does that mean exactly?".
That's a really good example.
And you can break down any of these so called archetypes in that way.
God! King, Warrior, Magician, Lover... what the WTF?!
For god's sake! What is it?!
That's about sex.
That's about dominance.
King is about status - these are all instinctive issues. Draw it down to the instinct and then the product of the instincts - which are these archetypal images - will all make sense. If you don't draw it down to instincts... they don't make sense and it's all just a fantasy.
It's diversional and takes you away from understanding.
I'm sorry about that... but it's another one of my rants!
Well, ok. I was wondering because you've been seeing this recently, what have you been doing to help people?
You get into instincts - you approach it first of all as a complex at the personal level. What is their personal experience then give them a backdrop of cultural understanding - the thing that's normally called an archetype. Then draw their attention down to where the change can take place, because they are usually off track from their instincts and the trajectory their instincts intend for them - to become healthy, to become optimally adapted to the world - this is individuation in its realest sense.
So yeh, complexes first, then you come down into instincts, you get them in touch with their instincts, you blow the complexes away, and then they re-adapt and then they are happy and content and reorientated toward their biological goal of adaptation.
So in this case then, and i know this is crudely broad...
You said reconnect them back to their instincts? So what if someone had a mother who behaved as a devouring mother, who's come in and has damaged their psychosocial instincts - for example it's a man who comes in and they can't talk to women.
By reconnecting to instincts what would be the first step in an instance like that?
Would it be inner work, you know bringing a problem to consciousness or would it be to throw themselves on other men or... what kind of stuff would you recommend?
For who the mother or the ...?
The guy who’s suffering
The guy who's suffering... well individual circumstances are the most important thing which is why individual assessment is absolutely crucial. Because overall, where is the damage and how does it work through in that person's life. If you damage the relating function then they may have psychosomatic issues, psychosocial adaptive issues, issues to do with their self concept, their identity... all of these things.
You can't narrow it down through an archetype (it has to be individual), because there are so many things, there are thousands of them, they're being invented by the culture all the time.
But if you get down to what will make this person healthy within themselves, that is a process of descent away from the surface structure of the personality - where the complexes are at work - and you come down to the deep structure which unifies everything.
And you could say, well this is an ego-self axis and yeh you could use that as a metaphor.
But the reality is that it's biological and it has to do with the release of innate potential from within that person, expressed psychosocial.
The personal psychology is a bit in the middle - bio-psycho-social - so I can't give you an answer without a specific example.
Well that's an answer within itself.
You need to have a specific person and assess them properly - there are no generalised approaches which again, is why you can't just say "follow this archetype".
That won't do you any good at all other than create a fantasy - it won't change you any other way apart from that.
I know that is true from working on myself for years - I used to do that all the time. Stuff like that would change your personality on the surface for a little while and then it goes back to normal again.
It does yes. You'll tend to find confirmation bias for your archetypes as well, so you'll start to find media that express whatever mythic fantasy is drawing you.
So suddenly, if you're into medieval knights it's King Arthur, and castles and all of that.
Because that's confirmation bias but it doesn't shift you at all.
The real eye opener is when you get off the surface, access your instincts and then suddenly they tell you and you feel it.
You feel the power, because the energy is latent. And you'll feel positive emotion to enact yourself in the world to achieve your goals.
Then... you can return back to your fantasy and enjoy it without it being pathological.
So that's the way to handle that, in real terms.