According to the psychoanalysts, Carl Jung, the root of every psychological complex has an archetype at its centre.

The mother complex can be one of the most disruptive entities in the psyche. She can manifest as rage, sadness, depression, mental blocks, feelings of loss, loveless relationships and a detachment from life.

Complexes typically take root in childhood, either through trauma or neglect. The mother complex is usually born from a mother that dominates her child, or when emotional and physical support is absent between mother and child.

In both situations, a complex splits off from the pure conscious nature of the Self and is relegated into the unconscious where it gradually functions autonomously and creates disturbances; childish reactions, illogical reasoning, bitchiness, impulsive behaviour, narcissism to name a few.

Autonomous mother complex

Such complexes appear as thoughts, emotions, behavioural patterns and psychosomatic forms of expression felt in the body by way of aches and pains.

Jung defined complexes as “feeling-toned ideas” that develop around archetypes over the passing of time. The individual develops conflicting emotions which project themselves in an attempt to reconcile themselves with the conscious mind.

When constellated, psychological complexes invariably cause a dramatic effect. But with self-introspection, they can often be a catalyst for self-realisation that brings about a change in personality, behaviour or attitudes.

“The mother always plays an active part in the origin of the disturbance, especially in infantile neurosis or in neuroses who aetiology undoubtedly dates back to early childhood.” ~ Carl G. Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious

Both Jung and his mentor, Sigmund Freud, determined that the mother complex emerges in the psyche of infants. The repression of consciousness starts with the birth mother and is reinforced by other significant women in the life of a child; grandmother, stepmother, mother-in-law, aunt, teacher, nurse etc.

The initial cause of the mother complex in us all is a sense of abandonment. This used to be caused by new-born babies being whisked away by the midwife to be cleaned. Nowadays, the child is immediately given to the mother to cradle.

Psychologists now believe primordial feelings of abandonment can occur in a newborn whenever the mother leaves them alone. Inevitably, this feeling of abandonment will happen at some point or other. 

As infants, we need emotional and physical security. These attachments are necessary to develop love and trust but new mothers cannot be permanently present for her baby. With proper care and attention, these early setbacks in infancy will be overridden. 

“Look, you have to understand that you are a danger to your children no matter what.  You can let them go out in the world and be hurt, or you can overprotect them and hurt them that way. Here’s your choice, you can make your children competent and courageous or you can make them safe. But you can’t make them safe because life isn’t safe.  So if you sacrifice their courage and competence on the altar of safety then you disarm them completely and all they can do is pray to be protected.”  ~ Jordan Peterson, TV interview

The mother complex is often noticeable in adults that did not have their basic needs for love and affirmation met by their birth mother over a long period of time; and probably their entire childhood. Consequently, a ‘psychic death’ occurs in childhood and becomes rooted in the unconscious.

Overbearing mothers, on the other hand, create a mother complex by generating expectations. The child feels pressured to please mother and their sense of Self is redirected towards their parents rather than themselves.

In both cases, the child loses the connection with their essence; the True Self.

Jung also postulated that the foundation of the mother complex has its foundations in the mother archetype, which, like all archetypes, he believed is imprinted on the human psyche. This collective unconscious, Jung said, can be found in the world mythologies of countless cultures since the records of history began.

“The young, undifferentiated ego-personality is protected by the mother—a protection imaged by the sheltering Madonna, or by the Egyptian sky goddess Nut. But the ego must eventually free itself from unconsciousness and immaturity; and its “battle for deliverance” is often symbolized by a hero’s battle with a monster—like the Japanese god Susanoo’s battle with a serpent. The hero doesn’t always win at once: For instance, Jonah was swallowed by the whale.” ~ Carl G. Jung, Man And His Symbols

In myth, we find the mother complex can also be the driving force behind great achievements. The Great Mother represents the unconscious and has a capacity for love, care and nurturing that is undoubtedly the most powerful force behind human achievement.

Examples of issues the mother complex can cause have been documented since antiquity.

The Mother Complex in Mythology

The archetypal Great Mother is recognised in world mythologies as the giver of all life. She appears in various guises; goddesses that can be as equally jealous and vengeful as they are loving and generous.

She also appears as the sacred cow, the nurturing wolf, a sarcophagus, an oven and other items that objects can be placed into. Such symbolic tools are analogous for the womb. Bodies of water are also used to represent the Great Mother because all life comes from water.

“The “realm of the Mothers” has not a few connections with the womb (fig. 12), with the matrix, which frequently symbolizes the creative aspect of the unconscious.” ~ Carl G. Jung, Symbols of Transformation

Perhaps the most well-known is the fertile Mother Nature – life-giving, nourishing and protective. She is a symbol of creativity, the unconscious force which drives her offspring to achieve great things.

Symbolic number 9

Sometimes, this driving force is presented in mythologies by a “devouring mother” complex. A prime example is the 12 Labours of Hercules in Greek mythology.

Hera, appearing as the “devouring mother”, attempts to upend Hercules’ attempt to successively complete his challenges. However, the obstacles the goddess places before him, serve to act as a catalyst that spurs the hero on to greater triumphs.

The name Herakles, (later changed to Hercules) means “the glory of Hera”. The hero is a personification of the Self, and Hera as the Great Mother archetype helps him to overcome his weaknesses.

“The archetype is the promoter of ideas and is also responsible for the emotional restrictions which prevent the renunciation of earlier theories. It is really only a detail or specific aspect of what happens everywhere in life, for we could not recognise anything without projection, but is it also the main obstacle in arriving at the truth.” ~ Marie-Louise von Franz, Alchemy: An Introduction to the Symbolism and the Psychology

In world mythologies, we often find the Mother Goddess associated with the art, literature, music, and crafts that ultimately become the foundation for a vibrant imagination and the telling insight of refined intuition.

The positive mother nurtures our creative instincts, and later in life is the capacity for self-love which enables us to love others.

Unless the individual is able to release unconscious energies as they mature, the mother complex can become problematic when trying to form loving and lasting relationships.

For example, in mythology, a hero rescuing a beautiful maiden is analogous of a man escaping the grasp of the ‘devouring mother” aspect of his psyche. The maiden is the anima – the feminine aspect of male consciousness.

You can read more about the anima here. For women, the opposite aspect of your nature is the animus which you can read about here.

How to Identify if you have a Mother Complex

According to Jung, the mother complex displays different symptoms in men than it does in women. However, there is some crossover of symptoms in both men and women.

This section deals with mother complex symptoms that affect both genders. Below is a section for men and another section for women, so for ease navigate to the relevant section for you.

The personal mother is responsible for nurturing growth, independence and love. However, a mother that has not dealt with her own mother complex unconsciously transfers her own grief, loss and depression on to her child.

A negative mother complex is usually caused by a birth mother that:

  • Does not show love and affection to her children
  • Is emotionally and/or physically absent
  • Criticises and insults her child
  • Often makes derogative comments about her child’s appearance (“just look at the state of you”)
  • Shows a negative attitude towards clothes, lifestyle choice and friends
  • Pushes her own interests on her offspring rather than encouraging them to discover what they like for themselves
  • Harbours narcissistic and materialistic tendencies
  • Suffers from her own mother complex and does not know herself

When a mother does not allow her child to express themselves and develop a personality, or show them love and affection, it damages your personality and creates problems in adulthood.

A mother complex is typically caused by two types of mother; the absent mother or the overbearing mother.

The absent mother does not provide emotional support. They can often be too wound up with their own emotional traumas and deflect their own grief on to their offspring.

Mother Earth

When a child feels unloved, or unappreciated, they develop an internalised sadness which creates hostility, rage, numbness and manic reactions that obstruct building relationship and creative spontaneity.

The overbearing mother, sometimes referred to as the “devouring mother” by psychologists, stunts her child’s potential by not allowing them to grow independently.

This desire to help, and even takeover, is rooted in her own selfish need of fulfilment. Subsequently, the child is not able to develop or learn for themselves. The consequence is they are unable to navigate life’s challenges and mature into an incompetent adult.

The adverse effects of both a lack of affection and a lack of ability develop into a lack of confidence and self-worth.

A negative mother imago will often lead to drug and alcohol addiction or some other state of infantile dependency. Common examples are an attachment to comfort foods, sex, the church or the state.

You may even cling on to lovers or friendships for fear of being alone, even though the relationship is toxic.

A feeling of being unloved escalates a hatred towards life itself and you can become destructive; self-harm, smashing ornaments, ripping clothes etc.

The inner world becomes blocked and there is a disconnect between the conscious mind and the True Self. Inevitably, the emotional block creates an inability to love or embrace life.

When you become isolated from the world, you become increasingly fragile and vulnerable because you isolate yourself from your True Nature. A lack of communication in the outer world results in a lack of communication with your inner world (inner wisdom).

People suffering from a mother-complex are often averse to change. This reflects a resistance to life. You may also have regrets about the past. You will experience persistent thoughts such as “I wish I’d done that” or “if only…”.

Other tell-tale signs are people that are unable to see things through to the end. They easily admit defeat because they are unable to find meaning; projects, jobs, relationships.

The Great Mother complex can project on to your ego and become what Jung called the ‘Persona.’ If the following sounds like you, the mother complex is your persona:

  • You put the needs of others ahead of your own
  • You shy away from conflict and treat everyone with kindness even if it is to your own detriment
  • You understand the needs of others more than your own
  • You give so much of you to others and later feel resentful
  • You feel guilty when you do something for yourself

These ‘people-pleaser’ symptoms are common in people with a mother complex and serve to reveal that you are not taking care of yourself. The remedy is to cultivate self-worth and self-love.

Make a start by saying “no” when you do not have space for others.

Other symptoms of a negative mother complex include:

  • Inability to express love
  • Self-degradation and feelings of not being good enough
  • Inertia and aloofness
  • No sense of time
  • Lack of self-confidence (especially with the opposite sex)
  • Idealisation of how lovers should be (unrealistic sexual fantasy of how a lover should behave)
  • Internalised cycle of self-hatred
  • Coldness towards others
  • Self-isolation and depression
  • Emotionally numb to the world and others
  • Feelings of emptiness and restlessness
  • Guilt, shame, self-doubt and self-denial
  • Self-absorbed and obsessed with weight and appearance (especially in middle age)
  • Lack of trust in relationships
  • Fear of falling in love in case you get hurt
  • Insecurity in relationships, jealousy
  • Self-destructive behaviour and mood swings
  • Feelings of being overwhelmed with how much you have to do
  • Other times you don’t know what you want to do

Who Is The Great Mother?

At the core of the mother complex is the feminine principle. The Great Mother!

Taking a cue from world mythologies, the archetypal Mother Nature represents essential attributes including care, unconditional love, patience, nurturing and compassion.

Mary Madonna

These attributes have to start with you. When you give yourself away to others, you become unbalanced and will begin to harbour negative thoughts and feelings.

Consequently, you become disconnected with the archetypal Great Mother – the feminine principle that is innate in everyone.

As a result,  life experiences are at best underwhelming and disappointing. There will be a lot of hurt and possibly even tragedy.

“When the god that is, the archetype of the Self, the spirit of the unconscious gambles, he creates fate, because its creation is a synchronistic phenomenon.”  ~ Marie-Louise von Franz, On Divination and Synchronicity

On the flip side, the mythological archetype of the Great Mother can appear as a person’s dark side. Here we see the mother goddess associated with the moon which is only visible at night.

This Shadow Self appears as a longing for emotional and physical gratification. It is the aspect of a person’s nature that leads to addictions, impulses, manipulation, mean streaks and smothering the people that are closest to you.

“On the negative side, the mother archetype may connote anything secret, hidden, dark, the abyss, the world of the dead, anything that devours, seduces, and poisons, that is terrifying and inescapable like fate. She is the wild and riots emotion and dark gloomy depths that have a tendency for negativity and concern.” ~ Carl G. Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious

The Mother Complex in Sons

The mother’s influence is mainly on the Eros – the capacity for love. When unrefined in men, women are seen as objects of sexual desire; lust dominates over love.

Moreover, there is often a lack of respect for women as a person. There can often be fear of loss when entering into a relationship due to an unconscious program of abandonment.

To protect his own hurt, a man will sever a relationship to avoid women causing him pain. Sometimes, there can even be an unconscious desire to cause hurt.

Jung subsequently postulated the two extremes of a negative mother-imago appear in men as Don Juanism or homosexuality.

“For the son, the anima is hidden in the dominating power of the mother, and sometimes she leaves him with a sentimental attachment that lasts throughout life and seriously impairs the fate of the adult. On the other hand, she may spur him on to the highest flights.” ~ Carl G. Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious

In Don Juanism, the son unconsciously seeks his mother in every woman he meets. There is a tendency to seduce, possess and control women, then punish them through abandonment.

Here, a man’s psyche and body are entrenched in sadness due to emotional neglect. You may feel lonely when alone, and even a sense of absence when with other people.

Typical characteristics of a mother-complex in the Don Juanism type are bold and resolute acts of manliness. They are often ambitious, pursue high goals, have an intolerance to stupidity, a penchant for laziness and a tendency to be arrogant and narrow-minded.

In self-conscious men, there will be a tendency to become obsessed with pornography and masturbate compulsively to mask the feeling of inadequacy with women. This is like trying to heal a gaping wound with a band-aid.

Mother complex in men

Others will take an interest in spirituality and go in search for their True Self. There is a sense of incompleteness, a longing for fulfilment that cannot be quenched by other people.

In certain cases, the mother-complex can work in a man’s favour. They are willing to make sacrifices if justice is served, their acts border on heroism, their toughness of will ignites their perseverance, they have a revolutionary spirit and an undying curiosity for the mysteries of the universe.

Other positive effects are a finely differentiated Eros that gives a man the capacity for friendship, tenderness and generosity.

The negative trademarks of a man possessed by a Don Juanism mother-complex are:

  • A tendency to perceive women as a source of sexual gratification
  • Ignorance of the emotional needs of women
  • Superficial attitude towards women
  • A string of affairs and relationships
  • Promiscuity and unbridled masturbation
  • Incapacity to build long-term relationships
  • Inability to raise a family
  • Absent from the family home and barely spends time with his children

At the far end of the spectrum, sadistic behaviours, violence, rape, mutilation and even murder will surface. Serial killers of both sexes nearly always had mummy issues.

In homosexual men, Jung suggests the entire heterosexual tendency has been forced into the unconscious. A dominating birth mother suffocates the masculine principle and the libido (psychic energy) manifests as the feminine principle.

Heterosexual men can also display attributes of feminine nature. Men with a good taste of aesthetics or that express femininity in their physiology are more in tune with the mother archetype. 

Men with a negative mother complex will typically show artistic and adventurous characteristics but whilst their romanticism can make them appear fascinating and alluring to suitors, their shadow projects fear of commitment and an inability to love. The Great Mother owns his anima and will not allow him the emotional freedom to form a balanced and healthy relationship.

Men with a mother complex can often feel inadequate as men, fumble through life or become obsessed with seduction. Guilt and shame are common emotions, although get pushed into the subconscious. Unless you deal with these repressed emotions they manifest as illness and disease.

Other traits of a negative mother imago are denial or confusion over your identity or sexual orientation.

Jung related feminine qualities, or a lack thereof, in men with the anima archetype – feminine aspects of man’s eternal nature.

He postulated the mother-complex was contrasexual and to overcome dramas and traumas associated with uncontrollable emotions, men have to establish a good relationship with his inner goddess – instead of being possessed by her.

Development of the anima is of the utmost importance if a man is to develop emotional intelligence. Without it, the archetypical mother erupts in fits of rage and “intensifies, exaggerates, falsifies, and mythologises all emotional relations.”

“The anima image, which lends the mother such superhuman glamour in the eyes of the son, gradually becomes tarnished by commonplace reality and sinks back into the unconscious, but without, in any way, losing its original tension and instinct. It is ready to spring out and project itself at the first opportunity, the moment a woman makes an impression that is out of the ordinary.” ~ Carl G. Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious

However, the anima archetype can also be strongly constellated, particularly in effeminate men. An inflated anima makes a man touchy, irritable, moody, jealous, vain and unadjusted. In this state of discontent, he feels compelled to make everyone close by pity him or make them unhappy as well.

The anima, however, serves as a bridge between the unconscious grip of the Great Mother and the conscious Self. To overcome the mother complex, you must analyse internal conflicts and external conflicts describe above and nurture the qualities of the feminine principle.

The Mother-Complex in Daughters

In the daughter, the mother-complex either over stimulates the feminine instincts or weakens them – sometimes entirely. 

When the maternal instincts are intensified, it can often be to the detriment of the women nurturing her own personality.

Women with a mother-complex typically react unconsciously toward reality and are often prone to fantasy. When your fantasy is not fulfilled, women feel frustrated and may perceive their female potency is waning.

These false realities are often born from an inability to find a meaning to life or a connection with their own identity. This is because there is a tendency for the daughter to live life through her mother instead of developing autonomy.

Mother complex womb

In other women, there is an inability to fantasise coupled with mood swings, and constant dissatisfaction in herself, her relationships and life in general.

To free herself from the idealistic nature of the mother, women must let go of materialism and worldly attachments. When narcissistic tendencies and delusional fantasies are present, the only outcome is self-betrayal.

Ignoring illusion, disappointment and irritation will create disturbances that grow stronger as time passes. Ultimately, these moods will destroy relationships with your partner, your family and your connection with life as a whole.

Jung identified four categories of the mother-complex in women.

  • Hypertrophy of the Maternal Element
  • Overdevelopment of Eros
  • Identity with the Mother
  • Resistance to the Mother

1. Hypertrophy of the Maternal Element

Women that put maternal instincts above every other female function are most likely to have a mother-imago that intensifies female instincts. In this instance, a woman will typically acknowledge her principle role in life is childbirth. 

Maternal instincts fostered by the mother-imago clearly have some positive attributes. The capacity to develop unconditional love naturally is the foundation for growth and development.

Whilst a positive mother-complex nurtures caring and thoughtfulness, the negative aspect is that a maternal-oriented female is unaware of her own personality and lives through other people.

However, it can often be the case that when they do not see their caring nature reciprocated by others towards them, the unconscious content can erupt as jealousy, anger and resentment.

Hypertrophy of maternal instincts makes it difficult for women to make sacrifices. She is so gripped by the desires of her Eros that she is unable to truly care for those around her even though. Ultimately, she creates an illusion in her own mind that makes her believe her actions are righteous.

“Driven by ruthless will to power and a fanatical insistence on their own maternal rights, they often succeed in annihilating not only their own personality but also the personal lives of their children. The less conscious a mother is of her own personality, the greater and the more violent is her unconscious will to power.” ~ Carl G. Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious

Moreover, when women are unaware of their own personality, their mind remains in a primitive state. Jung notes they are unable to appreciate wit or marvel at the philosophical nature of life. She will also immediately forget what she has said.

The hypertrophy is common in women whose personal mother was physically and emotionally distant. The reaction in a grown-up daughter is to foster maternal instincts to compensate for the lack of care she received as a child.

In some cases, a daughter’s identification with her birth mother can be so strong she will also adopt her mother’s repressed emotions and traumas. For example, a woman can feel depressed without just cause, and it turns out the feeling is the mother’s depression and not their own.

However, the ability to recognise when this is the case can actually bring about healing for both mother and daughter.

The negative mother-imago that conjures excessive maternal instincts also shields the daughter from the darker aspects of her true nature. She will feel dead set against any sign of hostility and place emphasis on all that is kind, clear and reasonable.

From a positive aspect, the maternal element can produce a natural motherly love that is conducive to speedier growth and self-development.

2. Overdevelopment of Eros

The opposing reaction to hypertrophy of maternal instincts is an overdeveloped Eros. This complex arises in daughter’s that lacked emotional support as a child.

It may also be the case that there was not much love and affection shown by the parents. This lack of exposure to fostering a loving relationship means the adult woman does not fully understand or appreciate the concept of love between two people.

In psychology, the term ‘Eros’ was inspired by the Greek god of love and desire. On the one hand, Eros is the natural universal love you feel from a point of authenticity and truth; a love that comes from the heart.

The opposing aspect of Eros is material desires, the elevation towards attachment to the things you love. This is not a genuine love but one born from the need for self-gratification. From a sexual standpoint, the negative Eros manifests as lust.

Consequently, women with an overdeveloped Eros, become more obsessed with worldly possessions and lose their maternal instincts altogether. She loves sensationalism and being swept off her feet, but due to this romanticism struggles to find happiness and satisfaction.

This frustration and feeling of lack will manifest as restlessness and often erupt in fits of anger and hostility. However, according to Jung, the upheavals that arise with each disappointing episode can be used as a process of purification. Look within.

Jung identifies an overdeveloped Eros – Freud’s id – with the fallen angel Lucifer – Satan that leads you into temptation. This type of disturbance is rarely self-destructive unless pathological.

“The stirring up of conflict is a Luciferian virtue in the true sense of the word. Conflict engenders fire, the fire of affects and emotions, and like every other fire it has two aspects, that of combustion and that of creating light. On the one hand, fire is the alchemical fire whose warmth brings everything into existence and whose heat burns all superfluities to ashes. But on the other hand, emotion is the moment when steel meets flint and a spark is struck forth, for emotion is the chief source of consciousness. There is no change from darkness to light or from inertia to movement without emotion.” ~ Carl G. Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious

The alchemical fire Jung speaks of is the ability to analyse your values and apply reason and logic to the motives behind your actions. When you see how your actions were born from desire rather than love, it’s easier to reconcile with the negative mother-imago and focus on living life from a compassion-based centre.

When a mother is unaware of her own identity, the emotional disturbance creates a deadening space which is transferred to her child. You must become aware of the mother-imago in order to heal.

3. Identity with the Mother 

Given they are the same gender, a woman’s psychological development will often reflect her mothers. In the absence of an over-developed Eros, the mother-complex leads to identification with the mother and paralysis of feminine instincts.

Consequently, the daughter will deny maternal instinct for motherhood and personal relationships with men arouse feelings of inferiority. Instead, she becomes submissive to the erotic fantasies and sexual demands of intimate partners. 

Moreover, she projects her innocence and neediness on to her male counterpart. Oftentimes, she will stand her man on a pedestal like a fairytale knight in shining armour.

The man, if he carries feelings of inferiority of his own, will relish the power of superiority he has, oftentimes to the detriment of the female. As she becomes more dependent on his dominance, she risks never being able to find her own identity at all. Inevitably this leads to disappointment, resentment and depression.

As a result, unconscious projections arise as severe mood swings. When rejected, she is unable to express her femininity in a natural way and feels her life is devalued.

In the absence of maternal instincts, a woman with a negative mother complex can become obsessed with her figure to the point she rejects ageing and yearns for youth. As she gets older, melancholy and sadness take over and passion is curtailed because she is ashamed of her body.

From a positive perspective, a male counterpart that allows women to escape from the clutches of the mother can help shake out the mother-complex.

However, it is important for the woman to find something she likes to do and devote alone time to express her talents. Hobbies or professions are a great way to develop your own identity.

Everyone has valuable gifts and self-sacrificing women that neglect to develop their own interests can also be a competent advisor to her husband.

4. Resistance to the Mother

When a mother is withdrawn from life, emotionally unavailable and wrapped up in her own problems, the detrimental effect on her child can be overwhelming.

Daughter’s that take the mantle to please her mother struggle to find emotional satisfaction for themselves. Emotional wounds began to open and bouts of depression become normal.

Similarly, the ‘devouring mother’ (or grandmother) takes possession of a child’s sense of self and inhibits progression. In young girls and maturing adolescents, the daughter assumes a depersonalised attitude toward herself and others. She feels at odds with the world and develops various forms of self-betrayal and sabotage.

devouring mother complex

The absence of love from a girl’s mother will usually result in a loss of meaning to life. She may be socially functional but internally, nothing makes sense. She struggles to make a commitment; with relationships, love or work.

The Jungian psychologist, James Hillman describes this as an inability to find belonging. The basic instincts are numbed and development is stunted. The emotional paralysis has an effect whereby the daughter is unable to feel positive about her achievements and struggles with intimacy.

Jung also notes:

“Resistance to the mother can also manifest as menstrual disturbances, failure of conception, abhorrence of pregnancy, haemorrhages and excessive vomiting during pregnancy, miscarriages. The mother as materia, may be at the back of these women’s impatience with objects, their clumsy handling of tools and crockery and bad taste in clothes.” ~ Carl G. Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious

A women’s incompetence and lack of female potency pit her against her mother. In cases where a woman does not know how to access her own feminine qualities, disapproval or blame is directed towards the mother and a divide forms between them.

The mother is viewed in a negative light only, but the resistance to the personal mother is also felt in the unconscious and the Great Mother cannot help the daughter build her own identity.

As a consequence, the sexuality does not function properly, maternal duties can seem unbearable, the demands of marital life are overwhelming and a typical response is one of impatience and irritation.

There can often be a spontaneous development of intellect, driven by an intent to weaken the mother’s power over her. The mother archetype will naturally drive individuals to acquire knowledge, but injured daughters that reject their mother can use their intellect to belittle their mother’s stupidity and criticise their mistaken logic.

“When a woman fights against the mother she may, at the risk of injury to her instincts, attain to greater consciousness, because in repudiating the mother she repudiates all that is obscure, instinctive, ambiguous, and unconscious in her own nature. Thanks to her lucidity, objectivity, and masculinity, a woman of this type is frequently found in important positions in which her tardily discovered maternal quality, guided by cool intelligence, exerts a most beneficial influence.” ~ Carl G. Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious

Whist creating a sphere of interest can be an unconscious attempt to isolate the mother, intellectual development can be highly advantageous for women. Expanding her knowledge and mental capacity draws out masculine traits and ushers in equilibrium that is conducive for healing emotional wounds.   

Jung believed women that reject their mother have the best chance of successful individuation because she has to learn the art of finding her own identity.

On the flip side, a woman with a negative mother-complex that develops a “nothing but femininity” image will struggle to release herself from the grip of the Great Mother without the help of a strong-willed man.

It should be noted that the emergence of the mother complex usually depends on innumerable other factors. However, of all the archetypes, the Great Mother can often be the one that dominates the persona and creates the most disturbances.

The good news is that every disturbance is an opportunity to learn something about yourself.

Integrating the mother archetype requires a daughter to transcend reason, dispense with ways of life that do not serve you and identify things you cherish.  The Great Mother provides sustenance that fosters growth and fertility.


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