Icarus complex

Last updated

The Icarus complex is a term in psychoanalysis and personality theory first used by Henry A. Murray [1] to describe a particular type of over-ambitious character.

Psychoanalysis psychological theory that was founded in 1890 by the Viennese neurologist Sigmund Freud

Psychoanalysis is a set of theories and therapeutic techniques related to the study of the unconscious mind, which together form a method of treatment for mental-health disorders. The discipline was established in the early 1890s by Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud and stemmed partly from the clinical work of Josef Breuer and others. Psychoanalysis was later developed in different directions, mostly by students of Freud such as Alfred Adler and Carl Gustav Jung, and by neo-Freudians such as Erich Fromm, Karen Horney and Harry Stack Sullivan. Freud retained the term psychoanalysis for his own school of thought.

Contents

Psychosynthesis has applied it to those in whom spiritual ambition exceeds their personality limits, leading to a backlash. [2]

Psychosynthesis is an approach to psychology that was developed by Italian psychiatrist, Roberto Assagioli. He compared psychosynthesis to the prevailing thinking of the day, contrasting psychosynthesis for example with existential psychology, but unlike the latter considered loneliness not to be "either ultimate or essential". Assagioli asserted that "the direct experience of the self, of pure self-awareness... – is true." Spiritual goals of "self-realization" and the "interindividual psychosynthesis" – of 'social integration...the harmonious integration of the individual into ever larger groups up to the "one humanity"' – were central to Assagioli's theory. Psychosynthesis was not intended to be a school of thought or an exclusive method but many conferences and publications had it as a central theme and centres were formed in Italy and the United States in the 1960s.

Etymology

Icarus was a Greek mythological figure who tried to escape imprisonment in Crete with his father Daedalus, using wings Daedalus crafted out of feathers and wax. Daedalus warned Icarus not too fly too close to the sun or too low to the sea. Overwhelmed with the excitement of flying, Icarus flew much too high, and as a result the wax melted and his feathers fell off. Down Icarus plunged into the sea, and indeed into death as well. The story of Icarus is often used to signify the dangers of over-ambition. [3]

Icarus in Greek mythology, the son of the master craftsman Daedalus

In Greek mythology, Icarus is the son of the master craftsman Daedalus, the creator of the Labyrinth. Icarus and his father attempt to escape from Crete by means of wings that his father constructed from feathers and wax. Icarus' father warns him first of complacency and then of hubris, asking that he fly neither too low nor too high, so the sea's dampness would not clog his wings nor the sun's heat melt them. Icarus ignored his father's instructions not to fly too close to the sun; when the wax in his wings melted he tumbled out of the sky and fell into the sea where he drowned, sparking the idiom "don't fly too close to the sun".

Daedalus Greek mythological figure

In Greek mythology, Daedalus was a skillful craftsman and artist, and was seen as a symbol of wisdom, knowledge, and power. He is the father of Icarus, the uncle of Perdix, and possibly also the father of Iapyx, although this is unclear. He invented and built the labyrinth for king Minos of Crete, but shortly after finishing it king Minos had Daedalus imprisoned within the labyrinth. He and his son Icarus devised a plan to escape by using wings made of wax that Daedalus had invented. They escaped, but sadly Icarus did not heed his father's warnings and flew too close to the sun. The wax melted and Icarus fell to his death. This left Daedalus heartbroken, but instead of giving up he flew to the island of Sicily.

Characteristics

It is seen in a personality type that contains many or all of the following attributes: [1]

Narcissism personality trait of excessive self love

Narcissism is the pursuit of gratification from vanity or egotistic admiration of one's idealised self image and attributes. The term originated from Greek mythology, where the young Narcissus fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water. Narcissism is a concept in psychoanalytic theory, which was popularly introduced in Sigmund Freud's essay On Narcissism (1914). The American Psychiatric Association has listed the classification narcissistic personality disorder in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) since 1968, drawing on the historical concept of megalomania.

In psychoanalysis, cathexis is defined as the process of investment of mental or emotional energy in a person, object, or idea.

Enuresis Urinary incontinence

Enuresis is a repeated inability to control urination. Use of the term is usually limited to describing people old enough to be expected to exercise such control. Involuntary urination is also known as urinary incontinence. The term is from the Ancient Greek ἐνούρησις enoúrēsis.

Ancillary consequences of this personality complex are:

Narcissistic supply is a concept introduced into psychoanalytic theory by Otto Fenichel in 1938, to describe a type of admiration, interpersonal support or sustenance drawn by an individual from his or her environment and essential to their self-esteem.

Puer aeternus, Latin for "eternal boy", in mythology is a child-god who is forever young. In psychology it is an older person whose emotional life has remained at an adolescent level, also known as Peter Pan syndrome. The puer typically leads a provisional life due to the fear of being caught in a situation from which it might not be possible to escape. He or she covets independence and freedom, opposes boundaries and limits, and tends to find any restriction intolerable.

Criticism

Doubt however has been expressed as to the therapeutic value of the diagnosis of Icarus complex. [6]

See also

Related Research Articles

Narcissistic personality disorder personality disorder that involves an excessive preoccupation with issues of personal adequacy, power, prestige and vanity

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a personality disorder with a long-term pattern of abnormal behavior characterized by exaggerated feelings of self-importance, excessive need for admiration, and a lack of empathy. Those affected often spend much time thinking about achieving power or success, or on their appearance. They often take advantage of the people around them. The behavior typically begins by early adulthood, and occurs across a variety of social situations.

The psychology of self is the study of either the cognitive, conative or affective representation of one's identity or the subject of experience. The earliest formulation of the self in modern psychology derived from the distinction between the self as I, the subjective knower, and the self as Me, the object that is known.

1566 Icarus, provisional designation 1949 MA, is an extremely eccentric asteroid, approximately 1.4 km (0.87 mi) in diameter. It is a near-Earth object of the Apollo group and the lowest numbered potentially hazardous asteroid. In 1968, it became the first asteroid ever observed by radar. Its orbit brings it closer to the Sun than Mercury and further out than the orbit of Mars, which also makes it a Mercury-, Venus-, and Mars-crosser. This stony asteroid and relatively fast rotator was discovered by German astronomer Walter Baade at the Palomar Observatory, California, on 27 June 1949. It was named after the mythological Icarus.

<i>The Storyteller</i> (TV series) television series

The StoryTeller is a British live-action/puppet television series that originally aired in 1987 and which was created and executively produced by Jim Henson.

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus (poem)

"Landscape with the Fall of Icarus" is an ecphrastic poem by the 20th-century American poet William Carlos Williams that was written in response to Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, traditionally attributed to Pieter Bruegel. Williams first published the poem as part of a sequence in The Hudson Review in 1960, subsequently using the sequence as the basis for his final book, Pictures from Brueghel and Other Poems, published in 1962.

<i>Landscape with the Fall of Icarus</i> painting by Pieter Brueghel the Elder

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus is a painting in oil on canvas measuring 73.5 by 112 centimetres in the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels. It was long thought to be by the leading painter of Dutch and Flemish Renaissance painting, Pieter Bruegel the Elder. However, following technical examinations in 1996 of the painting hanging in the Brussels museum that attribution is regarded as very doubtful, and the painting, perhaps painted in the 1560s, is now usually seen as a good early copy by an unknown artist of Bruegel's lost original, perhaps from about 1558. According to the museum: "It is doubtful the execution is by Bruegel the Elder, but the composition can be said with certainty to be his", although recent technical research has re-opened the question.

Flight of Icarus 1983 single by Iron Maiden

"Flight of Icarus" is a song by the English heavy metal band Iron Maiden. It was released as their eighth single and the first from their fourth studio album, Piece of Mind (1983). It was the band's first single to be released in the United States, becoming one of their few songs to gain substantial airplay, peaking at No. 8 on the Billboard Top Album Tracks chart - the highest position of any Iron Maiden single in the US. It was also a success in the UK, peaking at No. 11 on the UK Singles Chart. It is also the band's first release to feature Nicko McBrain, who replaced Clive Burr on drums in 1982.

Don Juanism or Don Juan syndrome is a non-clinical term for the desire, in a man, to have sex with many different female partners. The name derives from the Don Juan of opera and fiction. The term satyriasis is sometimes used as a synonym for Don Juanism. The term has also been referred to as the male equivalent of nymphomania in women. These terms no longer apply with any accuracy as psychological or legal categories of psychological disorder.

1864 Daedalus, provisional designation 1971 FA, is a stony asteroid and near-Earth object of the Apollo group, approximately 3 kilometers in diameter. It was discovered on 24 March 1971, by Dutch–American astronomer Tom Gehrels at Palomar Observatory, California, and named after Daedalus from Greek mythology.

Personality disorders (PD) are a class of mental disorders characterized by enduring maladaptive patterns of behavior, cognition, and inner experience, exhibited across many contexts and deviating from those accepted by the individual's culture. These patterns develop early, are inflexible, and are associated with significant distress or disability. The definitions may vary somewhat, according to source. Official criteria for diagnosing personality disorders are listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and the fifth chapter of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD).

Emotional blackmail and FOG are terms, popularized by psychotherapist Susan Forward, about controlling people in relationships and the theory that fear, obligation, and guilt (FOG) are the transactional dynamics at play between the controller and the person being controlled. Understanding these dynamics is useful to anyone trying to extricate from the controlling behavior of another person, and deal with their own compulsions to do things that are uncomfortable, undesirable, burdensome, or self-sacrificing for others.

The concept of excessive selfishness has been recognized throughout history. The term "narcissism" is derived from the Greek mythology of Narcissus, but was only coined at the close of the nineteenth century.

Attention seeking behavior is to act in a way that is likely to elicit attention, usually to elicit validation from others. People are thought to engage in both positive and negative attention seeking behavior independent of the actual benefit or harm to health. Most behavior that is motivated by attention seeking is considered to be driven by self-consciousness and thus an externalization of personality rather than internal and self-motivated behavior. This type of influence on behavior can result in a potential loss of a person's sense of agency, personality disorder and the behavior associated with these conditions.

<i>The Lament for Icarus</i> painting by Herbert James Draper

The Lament for Icarus is a painting by Herbert James Draper, showing the dead Icarus, surrounded by lamenting nymphs. The wings of Icarus are based on the bird-of-paradise pattern. In 1898, the painting was bought from the Royal Academy exhibition through The Chantrey Bequest, a public fund for purchasing modern art bequeathed by Sir Francis Leggatt Chantrey, R.A.. The Lament for Icarus was subsequently awarded the gold medal at the Exposition Universelle of 1900 in Paris.

Narcissistic mortification is "the primitive terror of self dissolution, triggered by the sudden exposure of one's sense of a defective self ... it is death by embarrassment". Narcissistic mortification is a term first used by Sigmund Freud in his last book, Moses and Monotheism, with respect to early injuries to the ego/self. The concept has been widely employed in ego psychology and also contributed to the roots of self psychology.

<i>A Man Was Going Down the Road</i> book by Otar Tschiladse

A Man Was Going Down the Road is a novel written by Otar Chiladze in 1973. It was translated into English by Donald Rayfield in 2012.

Narcissism in the workplace is a serious issue and may have a major detrimental impact on an entire organization. Narcissistic individuals in the workplace are more likely to engage in counterproductive work behavior, especially when their self-esteem is threatened. Narcissism is both a personality trait and a personality disorder, generally assessed with the Narcissistic Personality Inventory.

References

  1. 1 2 3 Sperber, Michael A. "Albert Camus: Camus' the Fall: The Icarus Complex" American Imago (1969), 26:269-280.
  2. P. Ferrucci, What We May Be (1990) p. 160-1
  3. http://www.auburn.edu/allynbaconanthology/documents/Icarus%20and%20Daedalus.pdf
  4. R. Hus, The Mindscapes of Art (1986) p. 196
  5. E. A. Kreuter, Victim Vulnerability (2008) p. 38-9
  6. C. Martindale, Ovid Renewed (1990) p. 53

Further reading