Most of us have had interactions with Western medical systems and practitioners which have left us at least mystified and confused, if not traumatised; particularly in the field of mental health. Sometimes it is impossible to make sense of what happened. The author of this paper is both a General Practitioner (family physician) and psychotherapist (with an interest in Jungian thought). She experiences the tension between the paradigms of medicine and psychotherapy as a source of both anxiety and possibility. In Jungian psychology, complexes are understood as a collection of ideas or concepts around a particular archetype or archetypes, and they contain both conscious and unconscious elements. Whilst they remain unconscious, they may wield a powerful influence on both individuals and ‘the collective’. This presentation proposes the existence of a Medical Complex constellated within individuals, systems, and wider culture in the West, which is primarily unconscious and influences us in ways of which we are mostly unaware.
Building on the work of Davis-Floyd and St John regarding the ‘technocratic’ medical paradigm, the tenets of western medicine are examined from a Jungian perspective to d etermine whether there is indeed a Medical Complex, and if it exists, how it might be influencing us as individuals, our systems and our society. The presentation is informed by personal reflections on the experiences of medical training, of trying to both a doctor and psychotherapist at the same time, by a wide range of sources from mainstream and integrative medicine, and by Jungian psychology.
The emotional impact of client material on psychotherapists is an experience which dogs many practitioners. Jung refers to such experiences as psychic infections, connecting them to the old idea of the demon of sickness whereby a sufferer can transmit his disease to a healthy person whose powers then subdue the demon. All this is reminiscent of a shamanic way of working. In the Jungian tradition, not only is the shaman seen as the archetypal wounded healer par excellence because they turn states of derangement into a self-cure but only those who work in a shamanic way are considered true Jungians.
This talk puts forward some ideas towards an answer to this question. The discussion involves observations from two pioneers of dream research, Maury and Hervey de Saint-Denis; a dream of Jung, commented