Complexes and Black Holes

Ive been tied up with a bunch of joyful stuff. Life’s a peach that prevents me from returning here, despite all my good intentions. And even today, I am tied up, but this thought has been gestating in my psyche for well over 5 months, yet today there seemed to be a compulsion associated with it…It needed to be expressed in a hurry. Perhaps its time had come 🙂

I have been fascinated by Physics since middle school, ever since I was introduced to the three equations of motion in the preliminary Physics class of 7th grade. I still carry a vivid image of my Physics teacher writing them on the blackboard of that dinky classroom, writing these equations that spawned off a neverending love of physics in me :

v = u + at;  s= ut + 1/2 at (square); v (square) = u (sqaure) + 2as; 

Later, the love of physics turned into love of Quantum Physics, String Theory and a fascination with Black Holes.  In later life when I was drawn into Self Psychology, Object Relations and Jungian Psychology with an equal fascination, I instinctively knew there was an overlap,  a correlate between these two love-objects of mine. A certain silent, non-descriptive woundedness had drawn me to Physics. The same inexpressable, undescribable woundedness had also drawn me to these three constituents of depth psychology. The problem I was faced with was – how do I recognize that overlap? Do I have a sight that can see, a feeling that can experience, a voice that can communicate ? Many years since, I’m still wondering.

And at different times in these last 10 years, the feeling was distinct, a sense of deja vu enveloped me when I studied psychology. I had done all this before. I knew it instinctively, in different time and space, in a different language. The feeling was unmistakable, unshakeable.

I think I finally managed to put it together. Jung‘s theory of archtypes and complexes was a psychological parallel (and equivalent) of Stephen Hawkin’s theory on Black Holes!  And who could be better acquainted with  black hole, who could understand a black hole better than Stephen Hawkin, the immobile, wheelchair bound gifted genius stricken by cerebral palsy at the peak of his career.  I mean, who really would be more qualified to understand and interpret the utter bleakness and despair of a black hole and give it shape, form and substance? It occurred to me with an unmistakable clarity that he had so wonderfully projected his own black hole, his own complex, onto the universe, and then studied a this part of his wounded psyche in detail , perhaps without ever connecting the two, but being strengthened by the exploration, nevertheless.  Or had he, in his private thoughts, made this connection already?

Stephen Hawkin asserts that space and time bend around the black hole. What does childhood trauma do? It creates wounds, which Jung called complexes, in the psyche. These complexes are like magnetic poles that pull all psychic energy into them, leaving the person depleted of any libido. In later life, in adulthood, these complexes enable a compulsion to repeat the childhood trauma. As psychoanalysis predicts, it is as if time does not exist and adults with developmental trauma travel back in time to re-live, or re-enact the same trauma over and over again. In that sense, the complex is much like a black hole, that creates a time warp to our own past.

I don’t have much time today, to expand my thoughts on the subject, or to carry out further research (CAMFT conference on 15th) but I do promise to explore this in more detail in the next few months. The concept is worth exploring, even if only as a metaphor!  Just like we accept that our biology and cellular structure, at the most fundamental level, comprises of strings (or whatever elementary particles we seem to be studying at that time and in that age), in a similar way, is it possible that external black holes and time warps may represent the underlying psychic strategy that Jung accidentally and/or unknowingly formulated and labelled as complexes ?  It would be fascinating, wouldn’t it? Jung found a parallel with Alchemy, which until then had not been associated with the psyche. Well, here both Stephen Hawkin and Jung may have been describing the same fundamental reality, but were looking at different places for explanations…

Meanwhile, here is a preliminary definition of a black hole….which seems to be frighteningly similar to Jung’s definition of a complex.

Of all the conceptions of the human mind, from unicorns to gargoyles to the hydrogen bomb, the most fantastic perhaps, is the black hole: a hole in space with a definite edge into which anything can fall and out of which nothing can escape; a hole with a gravitational force so strong that even light is caught and held in its grip; a hole that curves space and warps time. Like unicorns and gargoyles, black holes seem more at home i nthe realm of science fiction an ancient myth than in the real Universe. None the less, well tested laws of physics predict firmly that black holes exist. In our galaxy alone there may be millions, but their darkness hides them from view. Astronomers have great difficulty finding them.”                                    – Kip S Thorne, Black Holes and Time Warps


Till later


7 responses to “Complexes and Black Holes”

  1. Intriguing insight — that the projection of Stephen Hawking’s internal despair may have facilitated his inquiry into the nature of black holes!

    I have a somewhat related observation that I’d like to share. I find that Dementors in Harry Potter — the embodiments of emotional black holes who suck out all of the hope and joy in life — serve in a similarly resonating way. I wrote a blog post on this topic (in the context of the workplace) that I’ll pass along:

    Here, I write about Dementors essentially as an archetype for false type development, and how we can reclaim this energy through Mentors/authentic development.

    1. Kartik,

      A very well written piece. Thanks for posting it.

      Creativity, any kind of creativity, arises of a fantasy. And any fantasy cannot exist unless it a part of the inner world. If it isn’t inside, it cannot be fantasized. In that sense all fantasy, and our desires underlying the fantasies, are like metanymy. What we don’t know, or don’t have, we cannot imagine. Like we cannot imagine what a stone-consciousness or a plant-consciousness would be like. That universe is denied to us. But whatever we create, it can only be created by using our inner experience as putty, the building material. So I fully agree with you in that not only dementors etc – which represent the shadow element of the human psyche – but the entire movie is representative of inner processes. The people and all other objects in it, are personifications, or symbols of inner reality. In that sense, all art, literature is synonymous with dream states.

      Once again, thanks for sharing. Very well written piece.


      1. Thanks for your compliments and comments! Your observations help reinforce the real connection that there is between the “inner” world and the “outer” world, which is of endless fascination to me. The more that I experience these connections myself, the better that I can realize that they are indeed identical (nondual).

      2. Kartik,

        Jung’s definition of the psychoid archetype may be helpful in making these connections. The image I carry is that of a bunch of soap bubbles in a bath. All are made of the same material, all are esentially connected to each other in some ways, and yet each bubble has a separate identity. This paradox, of duality in non duality is also represented in the dual nature of light. Our quests to search and pin it down is totally governed by Heisenberg’s Principle! In my opinion it is a universal paradox, and everything in the world is subjected to the same underlying “physics” …

        This is the realm beyond the sciences, and cognition, and so yes, personal experience is necessary…thanks for sharing and all the best in your quest…:)


  2. Hi Karin,

    Yes, we do. We even use the word black hole in our emotional language! In addition to all symbolic meanings posited by word-symbols, Freud would say that in addition to being all else, sometimes a cigar is also a cigar 🙂


  3. Madhu,
    love the link between black holes and complexes and also particularly the idea that Stephen Hawkin may have projected his own black hole on the universe in order to study it. We all do this, maybe in less metaphorically powerful ways – if only we could see it!

    1. Hi Karin,

      Yes, we do. We even use the word black hole in our emotional language! In addition to all symbolic meanings posited by word-symbols, Freud would say that in addition to being all else, sometimes a cigar is also a cigar


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