The Black Nightgown
The Fusional Complex and the Unlived Life
A woman's dream of being trapped in a black nightgown reveals a dread that dominates her psyche and blocks her development as a self. In her story and others, Jungian analyst Nathan Schwartz-Salant reveals how the same complex characterizes our society as a whole. This archetypal pattern is the Fusional Complex.
The Fusional Complex is like the Renaissance alchemists' prima materia,
said to be vile and worthless, ubiquitous and easily discarded, and yet essential for the creation of that most highly prized goal of the alchemical opus:
a symbol of the self. Like the prima materia,
the Fusional Complex is found everywhere—in addiction and codependency, in masochistic submissions that sacrifice essence and potential, in the dark corners of relationships that are fixed in old patterns and simmer in contempt and resentment, and in the array of the character disorders. Because it generally goes unseen, however, these disorders do not transform.
Through the theory of the Fusional Complex, and with the non-ordinary perception that detects it, we can learn to make transformative discoveries that are rarely possible through usual analytic procedures. And through the cultural and individual examples of The Black Nightgown,
we will see that the Fusional Complex is the doorway through which any new form of consciousness and associated self—the structure that bestows a sense of identity and order within human life—must pass.