Grover’s story offers us a perspective on the psychological nature of the personal complex — a tale of dissociation and projection, and the monster within.
It’s a Complex Story
Complex in Fairy Tale and Myth
Part 2 of a 4-part series
Grover’s story offers us an especially good way to begin looking at how narrative can teach us about complexes. Grover, like many of our complexes, has a childlike perspective, and his fears are partly rooted in a child’s limited experience with the world.
The tale itself is simple. Grover believes that, at the end of the book, a scary monster awaits. He begs readers not to turn the pages, because this will bring them closer to the end of the book. Of course, the reader does turn the pages and, after much distress, it is discovered that the monster at the end of the book is Grover, himself.
lessons about our complexes
It’s probably common for children to feel monstrous now and then. They’re new to the experience of powerful emotions, and things like anger can feel overpowering, as if there is something terrible inside of them. If our early emotions are invalidated, or if we’re punished for them, it’s not surprising that we would shove them away, dissociating them to our inner shadow territory.
Complexes are often the parts of ourselves that we view as ‘monsters.’ We want nothing to do with them. We push them away ... all the way to the end of our book, for instance. Eventually, they don’t feel like ‘us,’ at all. When we finally meet out complexes, we often discover that they are more fragile than imposing, more needy than frightening.
Our egoic selves (our ego, or ego-complex) will go through all kinds of histrionics to avoid our complexes. (Grover demonstrates this beautifully!) This may be because the traits of our complexes include thoughts or behaviors that seem to be disallowed in our childhood homes or in the larger world.
Grover also teaches us about projection. He denies the ‘monster’ inside himself, and so he sees the monster in in the outer world, occupying the pages of a book. When the outer world seems very sinister, it may be because we’ve split off a ‘sinister’ part of ourselves and projected it, so it appears to belong to the people and situations around us. (But don’t forget, at least in Grover’s case, there was really nothing sinister about the ‘monster,’ at all!)
up next ...
The tale of a greedy, heartless man, a sort of Ebenezer Scrooge on steroids. in Part 3