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FMRI Correlates of Psychological Complexes, Leon Petchkovsky.

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download pdf FMRI Correlates of Psychological Complexes: Complexes DO have a biological substrate after all...

Internal conflict is a common feature of subjective life, but its neurobiology is poorly understood. A century ago, Jung discovered that subjects, asked to respond quickly to stimulus words presented serially from a standard list, would occasionally produce unusual associations with emotional and physiological disturbances at odds with their usual conscious stance. From such responses, "complexes" could be inferred. Complexes were thought to feature in psychosis, neurosis, deviant behaviours like criminality and the psychopathology of everyday life.

Any concept or function of "self" must posit "otherness" necessarily. But "otherness" is not limited to the world outside the skin. While the literature on mirror neurone sites deals mainly with brain events in relationship to external others, the elcitation of a complex, especially under the visual presentation protocol described (where the presence of external "other" is minimised, relative to the internal "other"), seems to be more about internal conflict. Our findings demonstrate that there is a functional brain pattern associated with this inner conflict.

The pattern involves internal negotiations at three levels: cortico-limbic, antero-posterior (prefrontal versus post-frontal) and interhemispheric. Both insulae are involved. This pattern is similar to the "resonance circuitry" described by Siegel and colleagues as central to empathy and our sense of self and other.

1. C. G. Jung, Collected Works (Vol. 2), Experimental Researches, Parts 1 Studies in Word Association, Part 2 Psychophysical Researches, London, Routhledge Kegan Paul, 1973.

2. S. Freud and J. Breuer, Studies on Hysteria: Standard Edition of the Completed Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, London, Hogarth Press and the Institute of Psychoanalysis, 1955.

3. J. Satinover, Personal Communication, 2006.

4. C. G. Jung, Collected Works: Psychological Types (Vol. 6), London, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1971, pp.528-529.

5. C.G. Jung, Collected Works: The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche, Psychological Types (Vol. 8), London, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1971, pp.95-100 et passim.

6. C. G. Jung, Institute Zurich English language protocols, 1974, Courtesy Dr Donald Broadribb, Perth.

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