I have a Jungian based book in my library called The Cultural Complex compiled by Thomas Singer and Sam Kimbles. I was delighted to hear that Tom Singer was visiting and speaking to the Jungian Society in Sydney, so last night I went along to his talk. Tom is a psychiatrist and a Jungian analyst, his area of interest is how cultural complexes manifest in different countries. It is always a kick for me to meet the author of a book that has had a profound effect on my life (2 other come immediately to mind – see below*)
This is a subject that has tremendous meaning for me, as a few years ago I coined the term The Market Complex to describe my world view on how the cultural complex plays out in our trading world.
Before we go further lets understand what the great man, Jung, had to say on the complex:
The complex has a sort of body, a certain amount of its own physiology. It can upset the stomach. It upsets the breathing, it disturbs the heart – in short, it behaves like a partial personality. For instance, when you want to say or do something and unfortunately a complex interferes with this intention, then you say or do something different from what you intended. You are simply interrupted, and your best intention gets upset by the complex, exactly as if you had been interfered with by a human being or by circumstances from outside. (Jung 1936/1976)
The idea behind the cultural complex is that there is another level of complex that exists within the psyche of the group. From here you can see where I am going with my thesis of The Market Complex. Have you ever felt overwhelmed by an irrational force that drives your trading in an unexpected direction? These impulses are often attributed to neuro-chemical reactions operating at a primal level of brain function. However, they can also be attributed to the emotional charge of ideas that tend to cluster around an archetypal core shared by individuals belonging to a group.
These are big philosophical ideas rooted in a more esoteric branch of psychology so we don’t need to get bogged down in the jargon. The key point to walk away with is that the market as a collective can often behave in a way that makes no sense to ones own rational understanding, and even more alarming we can sometimes do things that almost feel like we are acting under the influence of an unknown force.
* Prof Burton Malkiel – A Random Walk Down Wall Street
* Prof Sanford Drob – Kabbalistic Visions: C.G. Jung and Jewish Mysticism & Reading the Red Book: An Interpretive Guide to C.G. Jung’s Liber Novus.