Blend in or Stand Apart
The Dog Complex and the God Complex
In the Eye of the Storm
An individual response to the Global Crisis
June 18th, 2020
Ashok Bedi, M.D., Jungian Psychoanalyst
Robert BJ Jakala PH.D., Jungian Psychotherapist
In a storm, the safest place is in the eye of the storm. My colleague BJ and I will share our daily reflections on this centering process from an Analytical perspective, sharing from the repertoire of our personal and professional experience. BJ is a psychologist and a photographer and will pick an image of the day that catches him in this collective crisis. I will amplify it from a Jungian Analytical perspective. We hope that this may offer you a baby step on the path to your own unique response to this chaos.
The structure and physiology of the brain furnish no explanation of the psychic process. The psyche has a peculiar nature which cannot be reduced to anything else. (Jung, 1964, p. 270)
Natural camouflage is completely mind boggling to me. The ability to go unnoticed by the predators in the environment is crucial for survival of the species. The bird is barely noticeable.
Our human species has so many layers of camouflage because demographics of the United States is complex. A person can look like most in their community but have radically different politics, philosophies, etc., or they can look radically different yet fit into the cultural values of those around them. Our brains have common ground as far as what is seen by a PET Scan or MRI, but we are all individuals in so many ways.
In these moments of the pandemic and protests, alignment and rebellion are shifting radically. The neighbor you are friends with does not want to wear a mask or keep social distance. The idea of self-protection from them has never occurred before. Or perhaps their ideas of policing are quite different than yours. The situation requires following their lead (blending) or standing your ground (encounter disagreement). The environment we live in has changed and changing.
Our internal sense of self does not always match what everyone else sees. Our internal sense of the environment does not always match our understanding of it. The diversity in our country calls for the common ground of our constitution to be living, breathing document.
In the world, there are two groups on individuals: those who want to blend in and those who choose to stand apart. Each of these groups of individuals have their own unconscious dynamic. Before I present my thesis of their choice, let me clarify that those individuals who are authentic and soul-aligned do not make such a choice. They display the courage to blend or stand apart as guided by their Soul’s prescription. They do not blend out of fear and stand apart out of compulsive defiance but respond to the call of the moment as guided by their Soul’s code.
However, I am addressing here the groups that compulsively blend or stand apart irrespective of what the situation or the Soul calls for at this point in time to deal with the crisis or circumstance at hand. These groups are driven by their Dog Complex and the God Complex (Bedi, 2013) pages 107-113. Here are some excerpts from the book-
The Stand-apart group suffers from a God complex. These individuals have an inflated sense of themselves, take themselves too seriously, consider themselves the center of the universe, have an inflated sense of self-esteem. They believe that the world revolves around them and assume their worldview is the only lens through which reality can be perceived. Other people are seen as mere mirrors that must reflect their grandeur and must only speak to echo their pronouncements.
Individuals with a God complex see their personal and professional relationships as an extension of their wondrous selves; any attempt by others to assert an opposing viewpoint is met with surprise, disdain and retaliation. They chose spouses with low self-esteem that can easily be molded. Their children are groomed to become ambassadors of their grand mission, without any chance for healthy self-assertion—until of course they are old enough to protest and rebel through acting out, drug addiction or other methods of resistance. In therapy, they always get into power struggles with therapists who, in their view, fail understand their true value or worth. They might go doctor shopping till they find a therapist who appreciates how special they are.
The Blend-in group have a dog complex. They have a depleted sense of self-esteem, stay at the margins of their family or profession, and tend to avoid attention, under achieve in their professional life and permit themselves to be treated as doormats in personal relationships. They are attracted to individuals with a God complex in order to bask in their reflected glory. They live off the emotional crumbs of these powerful individuals and underplay their own ideas or potential contributions to their personal growth, their families and community. They are drawn to one powerful person after another and are attracted to new movements, cults, or therapists who happen to be in vogue rather than undertake the serious journey from illness to wellness.
Interestingly, both groups usually are caught in a relationship with each other. The God complex needs the dog complex to worship it. The dog complex needs the God complex to redeem it. These are the opposites that attract each other. Such an alliance works very well during the honeymoon phase of the relationship, but when these mutual projections cannot be sustained, the relationship begins to sour. When the God individuals cannot sustain their godliness because of they hit the hard rock of reality, they seek therapy because the world does not appreciate their true worth. They come to therapy to lick their wounded dreams of glory and success. Confronted by the reality of aging, illness and disappointment, they want to change the mirror rather than reflect on their situation. They seek medications to boost their flagging self-esteem rather than undertake a soul-searching reevaluation of their predicament. They often change jobs or partners until they find mirrors that distort their reality to fit their grandiose view of themselves. This is a temporary fix that will soon break down.
The dog people need powerful others to hold and sustain them at the cost of sacrificing their authentic potential. They end up in clingy, co-dependent relationships with God people. Such alliances start breaking down when their soul pushes for maturation, self-assertion and move from the dynamic of self-concealment to self-revelation. A seed cannot stay dormant in the soil forever, just as a tree cannot grow into the sky infinitely. Nature and psyche have its own rhythm. There is a time to be dormant and a time to blossom, even for someone with a dog complex. There are trees that blossom even by the concrete freeways with limited soil. The soul always finds a way to incarnate into consciousness.
We get Archetypal guidance with the discernment about when to blend and when to stand apart, when to be quiet and when to speak out,
7 A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time of war, and a time of peace.
THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES: Chapter 3: 7-8
Here is Bhagavat Gita’s prescription for Action,(Miller, 2004)
Perform actions, firm in discipline,
Be impartial to failure and success-
This equanimity is called discipline.
Gita: Chapter 2, para 48
A man who relinquishes attachment
And dedicates actions to the infinite spirit
Is not stained by evil,
Like a lotus lead unstained by water.
Gita: Chapter 5, para 10
Some Points to Ponder:
When you do assimilate and when do you accommodate?
How did your point of view form?
What camouflage do you use?
What determines your ability to no longer use camouflage?
Are your Blender or Aloof?
Do you compulsively blend in or stand apart?
Are you able to blend in or stand apart even though your nature is contrary to your choice?
Do you feel you have a God Complex or a Dog Complex?
Are you in relationship with an individual with a God Complex or a Dog Complex?
- Do you worry about consequences of your Soul guided actions or trust the Universe when you do what you feel is right course of action?
Photo taken in Sydney, Australia
Bedi, A. (2013). Crossing the healing zone : from illness to wellness. Lake Worth, FL
Newburyport, MA: Ibis Press, a division of Nicolas-Hays, Inc.,Lake Worth
Distributed to the trade by Red Wheel/Weiser.
Jung, C. G. (1964). Civilization in transition. New York: Pantheon Books.
Miller, B. S. (2004). The Bhagavad-gita : Krishna’s counsel in time of war. New York: Bantam Books.
© Ashok Bedi, M.D. and Robert BJ Jakala, PH. D