The archetype of the father is associated with gods, kingship, and other images of authority and order. As the image of a “personified affect” fueled by an archetypal core, the father complex is powerful. In its negative aspect it may arise from a father who was experienced as absent, emotionally unavailable, passive, critical or abusive. Jung’s father complex influenced his adult relationship with Freud, to whom he wrote, “Let me enjoy your friendship not as that of equals but as that of father and son.” Although the eventual break with Freud caused Jung years of inner turmoil, he later realized that they were also the deep source of all his subsequent work. Similarly, Charlotte Bronte and her sisters were able to use their father wounds for their literary creativity. Although healing the father complex can be difficult, taking on this inner task can provide energy for living more fully, freely, and individually.
“I woke up in a large, 3 story wooden house that was inhabited by 3 or 4 other people. One was a film director who was coaching a rather unwilling, melancholy actress. I explored the different areas of the home and came to the conclusion that this building was too old, and was being deconstructed for something new. The floorboards creaked, and the walls were peeling off the way tree bark does. After coming downstairs, back to the first floor, and walking down the main hallway, a knock sounded at the front door. First, I looked through the peephole. A grungy looking middle-aged man with short, grey hair and a week old beard stood, impatiently waiting. I opened the door, and he abrasively brushed past me, he was wearing a long, worn, dark gingerbread colored raincoat. At this moment, the importance of the decaying house vanished behind me, along with the strange director and actress. I was led down a short set of stairs to a jungle sized backyard wet with snow. I stood alone now, gazing at the canopies. In the distance, something caught his eye. An animal, alone amidst the fog & snow. A black panther stood, staring at me. I was afraid, and buried myself in the snow as the black panther came running full speed towards me. As this situation began to fade, I woke up in a hospital where I was being shown that his hip had been injured.”
William Ronald Dodds Fairbairn, Scottish psychoanalyst
Von Franz, Marie-Louise. The Cat
Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre and other works.
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