The fusional complex manifests out of an underlying field and activation point in the fusion field. It seems connection has a quality of psychic life as in a creative idea, a development of the ego, the capacity to think or feel, and the self associated with a new identity. This transition always creates disorder, and without a good parental container, it will lead to a rigid and stuck condition in which the psychic quality can’t integrate into an embodied life. This fusion field is invisible to normal perception yet contains a welter of unprocessed information. Reflection upon this condition is complicated to establish and understand; a fusional pull and tendency to distance with non-communication exist simultaneously. At once, there is a fused connection and a state of disconnection.

The fusional complex is an archetypal pattern that organises life between the known and unknown. When the fusional complex is activated, separation from an accustomed safe territory of established patterns can lead to extreme destabilising anxiety, a compensatory rage and temporality impaired capacity to reflect and think clearly. The subject often defends against the ambiguity and madness within the complex through disguised and destructive shadow behaviour.

With its rational forms of awareness, the very nature of the normal mind cannot perceive these deeply chaotic fields that seem to exist before a capacity for differentiation or emotional life. Normal communication attempts to bridge this huge chasm, the fusion gap, rather than experience the gap with real empathy and understanding. Fear of the void or abyss, a state of nothingness, a bottomless pit. Experiencing this pit with another person often leads to intense guilt or blame for separating from what feels like the other`s dangerous insatiability. They tend to ignore the field between them.

The field is limitless, boundless, indeterminate and unintelligible, a flux of opposites.

The fusional complex is the doorway through which all new forms of consciousness and a new associated self must pass if this change is to be stable in time and space and exists as an embodied soul. The nearer we reach the core of any complex, unknowable archetype, the more we experience the numinous. The fusional complex`s negative spirit is especially ferocious and difficult to transform, manifesting with extreme anxiety when separation begins. A sense of approaching a “Black Hole ” of psychosis, an experience of powerlessness, a defect or zero-ness. Experienced as a static emptiness and an implosive centripetal pull into the void. If the analyst can perceive and identify the fusional complex, they appreciate its power and psychic anxieties, alerted to the activities that trigger these anxieties.

Features of Fusional Complex

  1. The simultaneity of fusional drives and non-communication
  2. Disorganising nature of the archetype is at the core of the complex.
  3. Separation leads to extreme anxiety and energy loss
  4. A hidden and passive fantasy life in the client
  5. Absence of space, precluding productive use of projective identification. There is an unstable or non-existent experience of three-dimensional space within the fusional complex. An absence of a container, a supportive vessel, can help distinguish between inner and other experiences, split off, imaginal life and fragmentation.
  6. A damaged subtle body and use of substitute skins. Extreme skin such as self-hatred, disassociation, and muscular rigidity from protective containers against inner and outer intrusions.
  7. Powerful and excessive forms of narcissism can form a bubble structure where the person is both the speaker and the listener simultaneously. A sense of strangeness accompanied by psychotic states.
  8. Intense fear, anger and blame – Gripped by intense anger and fear, with someone else to always blame, at fault, cutting off the possibility of alternative views and taking responsibility.
  9. Sudden jumps or discontinuity in experience
  10. Abjection – fear of contagion by the other’s object state, such as madness from a boundary-less identification.
  11. An unlived life and Humiliation – the power of the fusional complex creates a wasteland of unlived potentials, which results in strong feelings of share and humiliation.

Typical Reactions in the Analyst

  1. Tend to disassociate from the field for relief because being present is confusing and mentally/physically painful.
  2. They tend to feel blank, dumb and deadened, unable to perceive any mental state. They suddenly feel controlled or surprised by an impersonal force to which there is no possible response.
  3. They experience psychotic processes that lead to a sense of strangeness
  4. They tend to diagnose personality disorders, such as narcissism or borderline, which could be artefacts of a negative fusional complex and may diminish once the complex is identified.
  5. As the analyst can more consciously suffer the fusional complex and learns to lean into the field, the opposites of fusion and distance may become conscious as a sequence of states. When containment within a higher dimensional field is established, opposites can be glimpsed together.

The fusional complex and state within the transference deny the analyst the ability to distinguish their own feelings of innerness sufficiently to discover what the client’s psyche might desire aspect of them. The analyst attempting to perceive the fusional complex’s presence must allow themselves to be penetrated by the field, that is, to be enlivened with the client`s experience and psychosis within the third area of transference. A perspectival awareness is an experience achieved through the ego contracting, loosening its holds and joining the felt processes of the unconscious field between people.

The transformed ego can see through the visions of the unconscious, the light of nature and a pure presence.

The fusional complex is hidden amidst more apparent personality disorders. Uncovering the fusional complex begins an individuation process that urges the integration of previously unconscious material or engages in long-denied conflicts in relationships or fear of embodiment. Many oscillations back and forth between progression and new attitudes and the retreat back into the restricted fusional complex.


The fusional complex plays an important part in addictions, as addictions are a way to fuse with an object, a behaviour or a substance that provides fantasies of soothing and relief. A temporary way to feel respite from the imposing opposites, as they cannot stay with their desire to fuse with a soothing object.

The addict is an agony of consciousness who cannot be soothed

The compulsive and dysfunctional pattern of behaviour of codependency is an example of the fusional complex. The addict and enabler share a fusional state with little or no relatedness, illusions of love, admiration and betrayal. Tough love is the only way to break codependency and help install boundaries and objectivity. Separation means to have the capacity to have some resemblance o the self, distinct from being fused with an unconscious life. The fusional complex is like the despised alchemical Prima material, said to be ubiquitous, vile and easily discarded, yet essential for creating the lapis, the symbol of the self. When the fusional complex goes unseen, any sense of essence and meaning remain trapped in treadmills and compulsive narcissistic demands. Where they need to control others, frantically search for assurance and idealisation, and split into two contradictory selves.

As the complex is worked through deeply hidden and vulnerable states of
“Mirroring” needs finally to emerge from impenetrable structures that never allowed grandiosity to materialise. Deep-seated hatred, envy, anger and fear start to dissolve as the person enters their suffering, how their negativity affects others, and the unfolding of the self begins.

The Soul`s Subtle Body

One cannot perceive the fusion distance of opposites with protective skins, and we need an upper garment of the soul to contain inner life—a place between the spirit and the physical body. The attainment of a subtle body is not autonomous; it’s an archetypal process that requires perception and imagination or an involved related person. If the garment is not successfully formed, fabrics will be disturbing and rigid. If the subtle body is damaged, the invasion of dangerous psychotic processes is ever-present, which dissolves any sense of safety and revives rigid defence mechanisms.

Spiritual awareness can be, in essence, a way to avoid the pitfalls of fusing within a shared field. However, the most intense awakening will not heal the torn, subtle body nor the trauma created by the disturbance of the container. When the spiritual level is combined with a mutual field experience, far deeper healing can occur and repair the subtle body. The black nightgown symbolises the fusional complex; without the outer garment, one is clinging to everything, where total disintegration threatens one’s existence.

The black nightgown can carry madness, depression and despair, a centring skin. Healing the fusional complex requires that the person gains enough courage to perceive what they saw and denied. As a sense of an exorcism, totally excluded from the influence of the ego. When the nightgown starts to dissolve, distressing symptoms will develop. Fantasy is another method of protection from re-experiencing childhood traumas—a safe place from unbearable emotions. Extensive passive fantasies become a container for the rage that threatens to puncture or shred the subtle body.

Abjection, Blame and Transmission

As we fall under the spell of the fusional complex, we lose the ability to convict and express our innate nature. We become someone else, false, partial and unrealised with what lies deep within us. Our most cherished desires are unfulfilled; we remain stubborn, suspended in an impossible world of opposites and the fusional complex. Abject to others, we feel unloveable and even disgusting. Dialogue is filled with contradictory opposites that make no sense, but we can hear the terrible suffering and humiliation of a soul unable to realise its potential.

Within the transference, the patient is experienced as abject, contaminating, where the analyst attempts to withdraw from the field to avoid contamination by the patient’s negative energy, desire and madness. Abject states create confusion and irritation with a strange, weird quality that is difficult to decipher. Dialogue is filled with contradictory opposites that make no sense, but we can hear the terrible suffering and humiliation of a soul unable to realise its potential. Both parties must be willing to face the madness and dark, destructive forces within the therapeutic alliance. The sensitivity of transmission, the unconscious affect in this abject state, can be extreme and feel intolerable. This field precludes connection whilst a the same time demanding fusion. The analyst must consciously take care of their inner life and protect their subtle body and soul’s anxiety-ridden state. The analyst has to relate to the chaotic feelings of the fusional complex without being consumed and engulfed by them.

One essential ingredient that can be missing in the process is a chthonic dimension relating gt the underworld. The aspects of the human shadow, without which there is no genuine capacity for authentic desire. The patient must lean into the field, encounter the oscillations of madness, break the incest barrier, and enter the unconscious. Thus the fusional complex can be viewed as a rite of passage through psychotic anxieties into a new sense of self. The renewal is an archetypal, acausal process combined with the formation of whole object relations.

The fusional field activates when individuals no longer adapt to collective needs, so they must alter their values and consciousness. Usually opposed by existing powers, a new form of awareness is trying to surface into the collective psyche. Integrating feminine qualities, a positive value of relatedness, and a lunar light of eros integrated into the self. The development towards a rational ego as a carrier of identity and a capacity for subject/object differentiation. This heroic attitude has to gain stability before the ego can suffer and relinquish its inner madness and dark forces. The individuation process moves the centre of gravity from the ego towards the self. To become centred within the self is an experience of reparation from others and fusional fields

Schwartz-Salant, N . (2007) The Black Nightgown: The Fusional Complex and the Unlived Life, Chiron Publications; Illustrated edition