Our culture is bound by a complex of narcissism which has become, as Shalit (2002) described in the story of Odysseus, “a raging complex that has settled in the “ego-state” (p. 67) or as Jacobi (1959) states the complex is so swollen with energy it has “become the ruler in the house of the conscious ego” (p. 15). Just as Prometheus is bound and suffering but unable to free himself, we too need a hero that “represents the psychological capacity to respond to a call to go forth from the conventions of the ego and redeem a treasure that lies dormant” (Shalit, 2002, p. 46).
Prometheus is freed by a human, Heracles, who is not entirely human since he’s also the son of Zeus. Herein lies the balm for the traumatized soul of our culture. When we lose sight of our own divine nature, forget that there is more to us than blood and bones, we become fearful, terrified of death and life’s meaninglessness. The ego, to protect itself, swells its own importance to gigantic proportions giving permission for all manner of sins in the acquisition of what it thinks will provide meaning. Kalsched (1996) says, “if the patient’s traumatized ego is to be coaxed out of its inner sanctum and inspired to trust the world again, a middle way will have to be found between compassion and confrontation” (p. 40). There seems to be plenty of confrontation on social media, in the news, but this alone is not healing the lonely and fearful element of our culture. Bringing the compassion of Hercules for Prometheus, to the rock on which we are bound, the part that is laboring toward his own divinity, may help offset the confrontational aspect already in play, politically and socially. Nonetheless, until we again find the meaning of our own divine natures, the fear of our own loneliness and insignificance will continue.
Jacobi, J. S., & Manheim, R. (1959). Complex: Archetype : symbol in the psichology of C.G. Jung. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Kalsched, D. (1996). The inner world of trauma: Archetypal defences of the personal spirit. London: Routledge.
Shalit, E. (2002). The complex: Path of transformation from archetype to ego. Toronto: Inner City Books.