What psychological complexes really are

Mental complex definition

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A psychological complex is an organized group of present or past THOUGHTS – FEELINGS – MEMORIES – WISHES – EXPERIENCES – PERCEPTIONS that were developed consciously or subconsciously and subsequently resulted in a NEWLY FORMED PATTERN OF BEHAVIOURS AND EMOTIONS. The intensity and truthfulness of these newly formed behaviors and emotions usually result in believing that the force that brought them into existence is also real, although it is just a product of your internal environment.

The set of processes taking place in our brains are presented in diagram 1:


DEFINITION psychological complex

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Diagram 1: Definition of psychological complex



The following example should help in further comprehending the definition of a complex. Let’s examine the ‘nose complex’ and assume that John suffers from the belief that he has a big nose. Some possible causes of that complex are that:

–        In elementary school (past) a classmate of John made fun of him that he had a big nose (conscious EXPERIENCE).

–        Although John does not recall of this experience today (present), it has been planted in his mind (subconscious MEMORY).

–        John feels bad (present and past) when people make fun of him (conscious FEELING).

–        John read a magazine article (present) which concluded that small noses are more attracting (conscious PERCEPTION).

–        John used to have dreams (past) where he looked different and people kept complimenting him on his well formed nose (conscious and subconscious WISH).

–        John often observes (past and present) other people’s noses and tries to think which type of nose he would prefer to have (conscious THOUGHT).

John’s brain has been processing all the above over the last years resulting in the development and growth of a psychological complex which consists of:

–        NEWLY FORMED behaviors:

  • When someone is taking a photo of him, he avoids showing his profile to hide his big nose
  • He doesn’t go out very often because whenever he sees people giggling, he thinks they are commenting on his nose

–        NEWLY FORMED emotions:

  • He sometimes acts more aggressive against people with small noses because of jealousy
  • He does not feel self confident with his appearance

For further information, refer to the this comprehensive list of popular psychological complexes.



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Morgan is the founder and editor of REALITYPLEX. After suffering from a life-threatening accident, he realized that the way we perceive things around us is based on our beliefs, emotions and experiences. In an effort to draw the line between perception and reality, he launched REALITYPLEX in 2011. Get to know him better and connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and G+