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.
- Dr. Dombeck responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
- Dr. Dombeck intends his responses to provide general educational information to the readership of this website; answers should not be understood to be specific advice intended for any particular individual(s).
- Questions submitted to this column are not guaranteed to receive responses.
- No correspondence takes place.
- No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by Dr. Dombeck to people submitting questions.
- Dr. Dombeck, Mental Help Net and CenterSite, LLC make no warranties, express or implied, about the information presented in this column. Dr. Dombeck and Mental Help Net disclaim any and all merchantability or warranty of fitness for a particular purpose or liability in connection with the use or misuse of this service.
- Always consult with your psychotherapist, physician, or psychiatrist first before changing any aspect of your treatment regimen. Do not stop your medication or change the dose of your medication without first consulting with your physician.
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’).
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.