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Hölter, R. (2005). Shadowed reality or the ‘Prometheuscomplex’ Analytical psychotherapy after political imprisonment and persecution. J. Anal. Psychol., 50(4):521-537.

(2005). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 50(4):521-537

Shadowed reality or the ‘Prometheuscomplex’ Analytical psychotherapy after political imprisonment and persecution

Reinhild Hölter, M.A.

Traumatic experiences of violence like those that were brought about by the communist regime of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) are still present as if they happened yesterday, causing severe disadvantages in everyday life even after all those years. Consequently, in cases of extreme traumatization induced by political imprisonment, persecution and applied psychological methods of disintegration, regressive processes take place which corrode the ego. The breakdown of cathexis, i.e., the failure of empathic connection at the time of the trauma, is the strongest characteristic of severe traumatization. As a result of this destruction for the traumatized there is an inability to keep upright an inner empathic, emotional connection.

As we try to grasp, from a Jungian point of view, the psychodynamics of severe traumatization, we can speak of a powerful pathogenous complex, which I call the ‘Prometheus-complex’. Gustav Bovensiepen speaks of this complex as a subnetwork, a limited fragment of the matrix of all internalized experiences, consisting of internal working models, feelings and patterns of anticipation which interact mutually. The human being, captured in such isolation and paralysis of the mind, can find himself ‘in the therapist’ on a mental level.

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