Unearthing Complexes, Gaining Insight
The last few months I have been cleaning up my yard that the previous owners had neglected. On the side of the house, wire grass had grown over the decorative rock border and across the flowerbeds. The best way to tackle the endeavor was to move the rocks over in a section, pry the buried ones out of the ground, and then pry the crab grass out a shoot at a time. Wire grass is by far my least favorite part of gardening. It is invasive and resilient with the shoots sometimes growing over a foot deep. Those deep shoots cannot be killed by pesticide and will grow back even when the top foliage has been eliminated.
Then I started considering the archetypal nature of the work I was doing, as I am wont to do. First, I thought about how tedious it was to be moving the rocks, meticulously removing the runners from the crab grass growing under where the rocks were, then stacking each rock I had moved back to where it started. Tedious was a good word, but Sisyphean was more archetypally apt. Sisyphus was a king in Greek mythology, who betrayed Zeus, and thereby Zeus punished him to the torment of an eternal task. Sisyphus’s task was that he had to roll a huge boulder up a hill, and when he got the rock close to the top of the hill, the rock would roll back down the hill, and Sisyphus had to go back to the bottom of the hill and start over. There I was moving the same rocks twice. I’m glad they weren’t big rocks!
For each section of rocks, I had to dig down to the deepest roots of the crab grass and remove it from the earth. The structure of crab grass resembles the fractal structures of in the body of blood vessels, nerves, or in nature of the veins of leaves or that of rivers. It was only a small leap to then compare all of these structures to complexes. Complexes are organized patterns of energy within an individual. Complexes are created as part of the learning process as well as instinctual responses to perceived threats. Whenever a person responds in an automatic, emotionally charged way, a complex has been activated. Complexes in the individual resonate with the larger patterns of archetypes. Archetypes are the underlying organizing, patterning forces of nature and reality.
So in therapy, first, a desire for self-discovery or change is recognized. In this analogy, I saw my inherited, neglected garden borders that had been overtaken with invasive weeds. I could see the green blades of the grass overtaking the bed and could assume that there was a root structure growing under the surface of the unconscious. The individual has to experience effects of the complex surfacing in their conscious life for the individual and therapist to be able to work on the complexed issue. Then carefully, I moved away the layers of dirt, (the unconscious), that had been covering the roots of the problem, the complexes, painstakingly, one at a time. Next, the top layers of the roots were exposed and then I dug with a hand tool into the earth around the roots to remove the roots of the weed. Fittingly, even with patience and painstaking care, it is very difficult to remove all of the roots of wire grass and some of the deepest ones remain. Likewise, in therapy, when a complex has been recognized, through translation of both dreams and other unconscious communication content, the complex’s potency can be inoculated. The translation in therapy, when the therapist administers it correctly, acts as a curative for the individual and the hold of the complex is reduced in the personal landscape. Once the majority of the root structure has been removed from the garden bed, and is no longer overtaking the bed, new healthier plants can be introduced and cultivated in that space. Psychically, the individual gains more energy that is not longer being used to manage the complex, and they can invest in new modes of life.
Archetypes are the patterns underlying all aspects of life whether it be the nature of growth in the act of cultivation or the maturation of a plant or a person. Those patterns can be seen physically in fractals or in the role of a parent, child, or spouse, or in a calling of a gardener, teacher, healer, or therapist. Complexes are the patterns of how archetypes manifest in an individual’s physical, emotional, and mental being, their psyche, and their personal, unfolding life story. Focus, attention, and painstaking care can tend to neglected aspects of the Self, so that more beneficial, desired aspects can be encouraged to bloom.