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What Is A 'Complex'?

Question:

Hi Dr. could you please explain to me what a complex is and what causes them. could you also explain to me what a person fears the most such as a fear of abandonment they cause to happen with there behavior like a self fulfilling prophesy. thank you.

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Answer:

A complex is an informal term for what happens when someone develops a belief (often an exadurated belief) that a particular situation is dangerous or embarrassing. For example, you might say, “For heaven’s sake, don’t call attention to her nose being so big! You’ll give her a complex”. The complex that our large-nosed protagonist might develop would be a belief that there was something wrong with the size of her nose. The person with the ‘complex’ might become so alarmed about her nose problem that she’d seek out the services of a plastic surgeon to correct things. The danger here being that in reality, there really wasn’t anything wrong with the nose in question, save for a few cruel comments and some insecurity (these two ingredients being the cause of most ‘complexes’).

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p> A self-fulfilling prophesy occurs when someone is afraid of something happening and then allows that fear to drive their responses in such a way as to cause that very feared thing to happen. As an illustration, consider someone who is socially phobic with regard to asking for dates. The fear here is one of rejection. The fearful suitor imagines the feared rejection in detail, and it becomes so vivid and ‘real’ that the suitor starts reacting to the object of their affection as though the feared rejection is a done deal; as though the rejection has already occurred. While being asked out, the object of the suitor’s affections is subjected to powerful mixed messages that convey the suitor’s belief that he or she is rejectable. The actual request for a date comes out all wrong, “Would you like to go out with me sometime, I mean, maybe, well, if you’re not busy which you probably are, oh well, forget about it.”. The person being asked out has to really already want to date the person who asks them out in this manner, because the method of asking is so clumsy as to turn off someone who is merely ambivalent.

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Comments
  • Lily

    No intent on giving you a spelling complex I was enthused at the prospect of increasing my vocabulary only to have it followed by disappointment that the word "exadurated" was not in the dictionary. I do laud you however at your phonetics spelling effort.

    I had a dream that this handsome man made a pass at me and when I was embarrased by it, he told me I had a complex. Now I have to wonder whether my "complex" is that I erroneously don't think I'm attractive or that I'm embarrased by my attractiveness, i.e. shy, or both. I never did think of myself as being particularly beautiful even though gorgeous men are attracted to me.

    I guess my dream is correct in that I do have a complex despite my beauty. But if I were to get over my complex and accept that I am beautiful, would that make me egotistical? To answer my own question, I suppose the best position psychologicallly would be somewhere in the middle of shy and egotistical, i.e., confidence tempered with humility, which we should all have whether we are physically beautiful or not.

  • Anonymous-1

    I am so unattractive that I am guaranteed a rejection if I ever ask a girl out. Is this a complex, or a fact? Seems like a fact to me.

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