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The Orpheus Complex pops up from time to time in psychoanalysis. It is seen in people who feel they have only one true love and now that person is gone, life is over and there can be no one else. I see it mostly in straight men, whose wives or girlfriends have left them. This complex is strong in anyone who feels ‘without X I can’t exist”.

Orpheuwas the most handsome of men – talented too. He played the lyre. He was the ‘original Pied Piper’ for his music and looks made everyone want him. All women swooned over him, but he was in love with only one woman, Eurydice. She dies, bitten by a snake. Apparently Orpheus raises enough fuss the gods allowed him to go down to Hades to retrieve her, provided he doesn’t look back on her ascent up from Hades. The dimwit looks back and she is lost for the second time, forever. He goes into a severe depression, mourning for his one and only love. All the women are willing to comfort and have him but he will have no other. Eventually this abstinence annoys everybody and he spurned women tear the man into pieces.

The Gods put his lyre into the heavens as The Lyre.

All complexes have positive and negative elements and so does this one. The positive elements are the devotion and endurance one feels for their belove. But it can be awful in the negative. Those with a strong negative Orpheus Complex are unable to ‘move on’ after a loss. They are stuck at the mourning/depravity stage. They won’t say ‘Well that sucks but there will be other loves, maybe not as strong as this one, but good enough. I will move on.”  So they rot away. I also see this complex in stalkers, people who won’t leave an ex alone.

Such a nasty complex when it is too strong or too negative.

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June 2007

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