Of all the formative experiences in life, the most important for most of us is the early relationship with our mother. She is the primary mediator between the outside world and us. For men, this powerful ‘mother imprint’ is more psychologically influential than any other one. Therefore, the major influx of information men receive about themselves comes from Woman (i.e. mother).
In order for a man to attain his own sense of self and inner authority, he must achieve a healthy separation from the powerful bond with his personal mother. All documented initiation rituals have shown this throughout the ages. It is only when a man accepts the power that women and the feminine can have on him in full consciousness that he can separate successfully – otherwise he will play out the following infantile patterns with women forever.
(James Hollis) A man is still under the power of his mother complex and out of touch with his own masculine self when:
a) He is obsessively jealous.
b) He telephones his wife four times a day to feel secure.
c) He constantly criticizes his wife for not being nourishing enough.
d) He declares his wife incompetent and totally controls the bank book.
e) He has an incessant roving eye.
f) He puts women down or attacks gays.
g) He overly tries to please his partner at his own expense.
Contrary to popular opinion, we find that more often than not, men are the emotionally dependent sex. This dependency can show up in being passive, clingy and overly needy. The fact is…… a woman can’t give a man his strength back, he has to find it on his own by becoming a man amongst men.
If there are dependency issues developed between mother and son, life becomes complicated. These dependency issues, whether acknowledged or not, are later played out in life by men with their wives or girlfriends.
Dependency rooted in the mother complex can also appear when a man avoids the existential pain of confronting life’s painful conflicts and trials, by regressing back into ‘the womb’ of food, drugs, sex, gambling or drink. The monastery is another symbol of ‘the womb’ for quite a few men who enter it. So can be organizations like the Masons, the city council, the church, the local pub, the softball team, etc.
When men do not individuate and live their own lives, they’re in a heap of trouble. The power of this regressive longing for ‘the womb’ cannot be overemphasized, yet man has to resist and sacrifice this longing in order to come into his own. Only daily courage keeps him from slipping back. Regarding the mother complex, it is not true that ‘what we don’t know won’t hurt us’, but the reality is…… what we do not know hurts us deeply. Actually, what we do not know – controls us!
There are other men who are neurotically dependent on the feminine, but rather than being overly dependent, compensate by taking on a “macho attitude” of “One oppresses what one fears and what one fears one attacks”. Whenever we see men trying to control, we see fear’s ugly work. The main dynamic of many rapists and wife beaters is a sense of inadequacy, inferiority and impotence. For one reason or another “macho men” are terrified of the power of the feminine and compensate through violence, be it physical or psychological. Where power is, love is not. (Jung).
Power in itself is neutral, but without love, it is dominated by fear and often driven to violence. Power without love has been the motto of our patriarchal culture, which has been driven by predatory corporate greed. There are some men in the corporate world who are beginning to realize that no perks, or car, or money, or key to the executive washroom will compensate for the daily loss of soul. The Faustian pact of selling one’s soul for privileges takes a heavy toll.
Dr. Peter Milhado © 2012