‘Authority Complex’ Anyone?

by Peter Milhado PHD on October 25, 2013

authorityEver since Carl Jung coined the psychological term ‘complex’ in the early part of this century it has become a part of everyday language (inferiority complex, guilt complex, money complex, Father complex etc.) Complexes are like separate little personalities within the total personality.  The negative complex is autonomous, unconscious and very powerful in controlling our thoughts and behaviors.  If unconscious, complexes possess a mental life of their own and are beyond a person’s control.

For example, if a man has an authority complex it is likely that he was abused by a controlling and power hungry early authority figure, usually a parent.  The extreme responses to being dominated and controlled are either submissive surrender or rebellious defiance.  If later on in life this same man responds to all authority figures with submission, he looses touch with his soul and inner authority and will eventually get sick with depression, anxiety or physical symptoms.

If, on the other hand, he responds with impulsive defiance, he will engage most people with an ‘oppositional’ attitude.  This causes great problems socially and obviously at work.  He usually ends up alone and isolated.  It’s especially sad when he pushes people away whom he likes and admires.  When he respects someone he unconsciously tags them as an ‘authority figure’ and will eventually proceed to defy and antagonize them.  It’s ironic that he has now become the agent of abuse, which is exactly what he was the victim of as a child.  He lives his life on an unconscious treadmill as a ‘rebel’, which is different from a revolutionary, who attempts to make changes deliberately and consciously.

There are some people with an authority complex who submit and rebel at the same time.  For example, if their boss asks them to bring in the report on Friday, they willingly agree.  When Friday comes around they ‘forgot’ or make up another excuse.  It’s called passive-aggressive behavior and is death to relationships at home or at work.

A complex becomes pathological only when we think we don’t have one.  Be assured, however, a strong complex is easily noticed by others.  All of us have complexes and if we don’t look inward and become conscious of them, we don’t have a complex, the complex has us. This leads to illness and loneliness.  One goal of therapy is to dissolve complexes and free the person from their tyranny over his or her life.


One for all and all for one

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Dick Oswell January 3, 2014 at 11:02 am

Surely it is imperative that proponents of any belief system claim to represent that authority that determines its non-conformists. A dualistic universe loves angst.

Dick Oswell January 7, 2014 at 10:10 am

Wallace Stevens noted—
“the gods of China are always Chinese”

Peter Milhado PHD August 2, 2017 at 1:24 pm

The gods of oswell are always oswellian

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