Cassandra Complex: Why do so many women suffer from it?

The Cassandra myth has been used as a metaphor for various social and psychological phenomena, mainly referring to the silence or disbelief of aspects traditionally linked to the feminine by dominant figures or instances. These invisible feminine elements are, among others, intuition, imagination or the creative.

This eclipse of the qualities considered feminine can be called the “Cassandra complex”.

Cassandra: the Trojan Princess

The myth, immortalized in Homer’s Iliad, tells us that Apollo, god of reason, lucidity and moderation, fascinated by the beauty of Cassandra, promised him the gift of prophecy in exchange for becoming his lover. Cassandra, daughter of the Trojan kings, accepted the gift, but rejected ApolloAnyone who offends her curses her by making her predictions, even if they are correct, not believed, or taken into account.

Unable to avoid or transform the events he foresaw, including the fall of Troy and his own death, the gift became a continuing source of pain and frustration for Cassandra, also being excluded and stigmatized by his visions.

The Cassandra myth tells us about the dark aspect of Apollo, that is, when the rationality that characterizes the patriarchy forgets its matriarchal roots and arrogantly reveals itself through the misogyny assimilating the feminine unawares, the weak already the one susceptible to being dominated, exploited and violated.

The myth makes visible the need for a linear, logical, analytical, quantitative and penetrating thought, which provides pragmatic solutions and is generally related to the masculine, to be supplemented by the so-called thought of the heart, with receptivity, with which qualitative, with creativity, synthesis and acceptance, traditionally linked to the feminine.

The disqualification of the imaginary in modernity

In the context of scientific materialism, framed in the Newtonian and Cartesian paradigm, various aspects reluctant to subscribe to instrumental and productive logic such as intuition, imagination and the whole domain of the invisible (traditionally linked to the feminine) begin to appear. be considered erroneous. , dark, childish, superstitious and without any legitimacy to provide valid knowledge about humans.

The Cassandra myth represents the tragedy and imbalance that involves neglect and contempt for the irrational realm, Subjective and ineffable in our nature.

In science itself, quantum physics, the object of study are the smallest particles of which the universe is composed, that is, the infinitely small, the invisible, has invalidated the absolute concretion which was presupposed for the matter of scientific materialism, revealing to it a mysterious, paradoxical and irrational aspect which keeps powerful similarities and correspondences with the nature of the psyche.

It now reduces the claims of objectivity, highlighting the affectation of the observer over the observed when experienced with quantum proportions.

The discredit and the expulsion of the soul in the contemporary world

Cassandra was confined and kicked out of collective life because her words were uncomfortable with examples of power, with dominant thought.

The popular expression “it’s just psychological” translates the contempt for the psychic and the subjective., In a clear subordination to what is considered objective and physical.

The discredit and the confinement of the soul allude to the process of dehumanization and harmony denounced by different authorities, generated by the excess of technification, rationalization and instrumentalization.

It refers to the rigid bureaucracy which, instead of facilitating processes, hinders, it does not welcome special cases or the emergence of new conditions. In medical practices where economic interests predominate over human health, and where patient subjectivity fades into diagnostics, protocols and statistics. He also alludes to the medicalization of sadness and social nonconformity.

Other expressions of soul containment are the cult of appearances, packaging, happiness, youth, speed and growth. All of the above one-sidedness that overlooks the complexity, depth, ambivalence, and cyclical dynamics of the psyche.

The Cassandra complex and the marginalization of the feminine

The curse on Cassandra was that the warnings of her visions went unheeded., That his words were not heard, that his contributions were refused. One of the readings that has been made of the myth of Cassandra concerns the exclusion and invisibility of women in patriarchal societies.

Submission and silence were ideal virtues for female behavior in ancient Greece, and these views and practices have continued over time.

There is ample evidence that, although they have been in inferior conditions of access to knowledge, women have historically been relevant in the political, artistic and scientific fields. However, his contributions have been made invisible or absorbed by a figure of greater legitimacy within patriarchal logic such as his father, brother, husband or lover may have been.

In this same sense, there are also multiple testimonies of how scientific knowledge has progressed not only from rationality and empiricism but also from intuitions, imaginative visions and other aspects related to the non-rational field, but in the as with the woman these discoveries are made invisible or seen as mere coincidences.

Invisibility towards women also occurs when they are not taken into account in the media or by activities in which they could be exercised effectively, because their age, figure or appearance does not meet the expectations. expectations of a certain disappearing masculine gaze, as well as objects of desire.

The feminine as commodity and property

Once Troy was defeated, Cassandra was kidnapped and taken as spoils of war. The female body has been and still is treated as a commodity, as an object of pleasure, as an advertising window.

The logic of the commodification and reification of the female body is based on forced prostitution, human trafficking, pressure on the slender figure, the rise of cosmetic operations, rape as a weapon of war.

This logic is implicit in the mind of the aggressor who therefore considers his partner or ex-partner as his property, with the possibility of using it as he pleases.

The woman who belongs to herself and structural disbelief

In some versions of the myth, Cassandra is given the role of priestess or virgin. These aspects, in this context, symbolize the resistance of women to the subordination and dependence of men, as well as the logic of domination and power that they embody. Cassandra then represents the woman who belongs to herself and not the father or the husband.

In patriarchal societies, belligerent women, those who say what they do not want to hear, those who transgress the canons imposed by men, have been tempted to silence, marginalize or ridicule by calling them crazy, witches or of “hysterics”.

Today, many women face this structural disbelief in various circumstances. For example, when, after having overcome multiple obstacles and disadvantages vis-à-vis men, they gain access to spaces of power or recognition beyond those traditionally attributed to women (beauty, care of others, objects of pleasure ) and are delegitimized, disqualified or not taken seriously. .

Disbelief is also present when witnesses of sexual abuse or harassment are presented and are often discredited as fantasies or provocations of the woman herself.

Another expression of disbelief is the case of conditions in which it is not possible to find a visible and quantifiable element in the body, such as chronic pain, fibromyalgia or mental distress. People must face questions about the veracity or intensity of their suffering, or even endure being accused of engaging in manipulative behavior.

Crack between mind and body: the lost animality

In some versions of the myth, Cassandra’s prophetic ability is expressed as the ability to understand the language of animals. In mythology, animals are generally representations of our instincts, the needs of our body and its rhythms, our basic impulses.

The Cassandra myth refers to how the civilizing process, which elevated rationality and empiricism as dogmas, breached our animality, with our innate capacity for self-regulation, with the wisdom inherent in our nature.

The distance with our animality, with the wisdom of our body, manifests itself in disorientation and dissociation.

Internalized devaluation

Women are forced to construct their identity in a context where their sources of identification are pejoratively assessed, giving them connotations of weakness, victimization, dependence and irrationality. In many cases, the mother herself is the point of reference for what women do not want to become. The associated masculine values, on the contrary, are highly appreciated by considering the man as enterprising, logical, pragmatic, simple, objective, independent, strong, courageous, powerful.

For Maureen Murdock, denigration of the feminine increases the chances that many women will seek approval by virtue of patriarchal values, leaving out or minimizing other fundamental areas of their personality.

Thus, the invisibility, the marginalization, the contempt to which women are exposed, is internalized constituting an internal psychic factor from which emerge negative judgments and appreciations towards oneself.

The woman then identifies with rationality and the pursuit of external goals, constantly seeking the approval of the male gaze. Internalized devaluation is installed as a feeling of insecurity and handicap which can manifest itself in the form of compensation through a constant search to demonstrate how effective and capable it can be, in many cases under a criterion of overwhelming demand that exceeds the requirements of its own context.

Psychological changes generated

The woman can then be possessed by an obsession with perfection and the need to be in control in different areas: work, her own body, relationships, while rejecting herself or distancing herself from other aspects of her- same as she traditionally had. State linked to the feminine.

He then became deaf to the signals of his body and its rhythms; to the possibility of recognizing the excesses or the shortcomings which happen to him. It does not give credibility to the inner feeling that can guide her about relationships or attitudes that need to be let go; nor to the voice which promotes it for the unfolding of its own vocation, which encourages it to be faithful to its own truth.

The gradual unfolding of the deepest needs of our psyche has been called in Jungian psychology as a process of individuation and is considered to be more relevant in the second half of life, when the needs of adaptation to the outside world, vanity and the need for recognition is also starting to lose its relevance the development of our interiority appears to be a priority.

The Cansandras as medial women

Cassandra is called by heart as the most miserable and the wisest, evoking the traditional relationship of wisdom that emerges from suffering and frustration.

For Newman, the process of evolution of collective consciousness in Western culture shifted from matriarchal unconsciousness with a predominance of instinct, animism and the collective, to the patriarchal skepticism in which it prevailed, rationality and individuality. For Newman, the necessary patriarchal stage is declining by exhaustion.

The spirit of the times then corresponds to the need for a perspective in which the two principles interact harmoniously, which implies an integration of the insulted and repressed feminine in this last stage.

Jungian analyst Toni Wolf argues that there is a type of women with a special sensitivity who use them as mediators between the inner world and the outer world.. Medial women, as she calls them, are absorbed and shaped by what she seeks to be aware of at a given point in time by becoming carriers of new principles and values.

Medial women capture and stage in the conflicts of their own lives, in the pains of their own body, what “is in the air”, what the collective consciousness does not quite admit: the need for ‘integrate the insulted and repressed feminine.

Through their art, their sufferings, they bring to light the collective drama of erotically linking the masculine and feminine aspects, which as a sacred marriage act as complementary opposites without any kind of subordination. They unconsciously dedicate themselves to the service of a new and secret spirit of the time, as did the first martyrs. His pain becomes a forgery for the superfluous and for the encounter with the most essential and authentic.

Collective consciousness demands recognition and integration of the soul, of the feminine, in relationships, in institutions, in the productive model, in instances of power. It is an inevitable participation under equal conditions of the qualitative, of what is not visible. May the conquering, warlike and patriarchal colonialist logic be nuanced under the inclusive and welcoming gaze of the feminine which undoubtedly highlights the interdependence of all peoples and the brotherhood that binds us as a species. May the sanctity and respect that the planet and all parts of nature deserve also return.

Bibliographical references:

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