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

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

May 1, 2024

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

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

Cassandra: the Trojan princess

The myth, which was immortalized in the Iliad of Homer, 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 it becoming his lover. Kassandra, daughter of the kings of Troy, accepted the gift, but rejected Apollo , who offended curses her by making her predictions, although accurate, not to be believed or taken into account.

Unable to avoid or transform the events she foresaw, including the fall of Troy and her own death, the gift became for Cassandra a continuous source of pain and frustration, being further excluded and stigmatized by her visions.

The myth of Cassandra tells us about the dark aspect of Apollo, that is, when the rationality that characterizes patriarchy forgets its matriarchal roots and arrogantly reveals itself through misogyny by equating the feminine with the lacking, the weak and what can be dominated, exploited and violated.

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

The disqualification of the imaginary in modernity

Within the context of scientific materialism, framed in the Newtonian and Cartesian paradigm, different aspects reluctant to subscribe to instrumental and productive logic such as intuition, imagination and the whole scope of the non-visible (traditionally related to the feminine) began to be considered as erroneous, obscure, puerile, superstitious and with no legitimacy to provide valid knowledge about the human.

The Myth of Cassandra represents the tragedy and imbalance that comes with the neglect and contempt of the non-rational environment , subjective and ineffable of our nature.

Within the science itself, quantum physics, whose object of study are the smallest particles of which the universe is composed, that is, the infinitely small, the non-visible, has invalidated the absolute concreteness that was presupposed for matter from scientific materialism, revealing a mysterious, paradoxical and irrational aspect that holds strong similarities and correspondences with the nature of the psyche.

It demolishes for example the pretensions of objectivity, evidencing the involvement of the observer in what is observed when experimenting with quantum proportions.

The loss of prestige and expulsion of the soul in the contemporary world

Cassandra was confined and expelled from the collective life because her words were uncomfortable to the instances of power, to the dominant thought.

The popular expression "is only psychological" accounts for the disdain for the soul and the subjective , in clear subordination to what is considered objective and physical.

The discrediting and confinement of the soul refers to the process of dehumanization and disharmony that is denounced from different instances, generated by the excess of technification, rationalization and instrumentalization.

It makes reference to the rigid bureaucracy that instead of facilitating processes puts obstacles in the way, does not accept the particular cases nor the emergence of novel conditions. To medical practices in which economic interests predominate over the health of people, and where the subjectivity of patients vanishes in diagnoses, protocols and statistics. It also alludes to the medicalization of sadness and social nonconformity.

Other expressions of the confinement of the soul are the cult of appearances, packaging, happiness, youth, speed and growth. All the previous unilateralities that neglect the complexity, depth, ambivalence and cyclical dynamics of the psyche .

The Cassandra complex and the marginalization of the feminine

The curse to Kassandra was that the warnings coming from her visions were not taken into account , that his words were not heard, that his contributions were denied. One of the readings that has been made of the myth of Cassandra is with respect to the exclusion and invisibility of women in patriarchal societies.

Submission and silence were in ancient Greece ideal virtues for female behavior and these conceptions and practices have been maintained over time.

There is multiple evidence that despite having been in inferior conditions in access to knowledge, women have historically been present in a relevant way in the political, artistic and scientific fields. However, their contributions have been made invisible or absorbed by a figure of greater legitimacy within the patriarchal logic as it could have been his father, brother, husband or lover.

In this same sense there are also multiple testimonies of how scientific knowledge has not only advanced from rationality and empiricism but from intuitions, imaginative visions and other aspects related to the non-rational sphere, but as with women , these findings are invisible or taken as simple coincidences .

Invisibility towards women also occurs when they are not taken into account in the media or for activities in which they could perform efficiently, because their age, appearance or appearance does not meet the expectations of a certain male gaze , disappearing, as well as objects of desire.

The feminine as merchandise and property

Once Troy was defeated, Kassandra was kidnapped and taken as spoils of war. The body of the woman has been and still is treated as a commodity, as an object of pleasure, as an advertising showcase.

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

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

The woman who belongs to herself and the structural disbelief

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

In patriarchal societies, women who are belligerent, who say what they do not want to listen to, who transgress the canons imposed by men, have tried to silence, marginalize or ridicule them by calling them crazy, witches or "hysterical".

Nowadays, many women have to face this structural disbelief in different circumstances. For example, when after overcoming multiple obstacles and disadvantages in relation to 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.

Unbelief is also present when testimonies of abuse or sexual 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 organism, such as chronic pain, fibromyalgia or mood disorders. People have to face being questioned about the veracity or intensity of their suffering, or even endure being accused of carrying out manipulative behaviors.

Fissure 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 usually representations of our instincts, the needs of our body and its rhythms, our basic drives.

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

The distancing with our animality, with the wisdom of our body, manifests itself as disorientation and dissociation.

The internalized undervaluation

Women are forced to build their identity in a context where their sources of identification are valued in a pejorative way, granting them connotations of weakness, victimhood, dependence and irrationality. On many occasions, the mother herself is the reference point of what women do not want to convert. The masculine associated values, on the contrary, are highly valued considering the man as an entrepreneur, logical, pragmatic, descomplicado, objective, independent, strong, brave, powerful.

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

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

The woman then identifies with rationality and the search for external goals, constantly seeking approval from the male gaze. The internalized devaluation is installed as a feeling of insecurity and disability that can be manifested as compensation through a constant search to demonstrate how efficient and capable it can be, often under criteria of overflowing demand. exceeds the requirements of the context itself.

Psychological changes that are generated

The woman can then be possessed by an obsession with perfection and the need to have control in different areas: work, her own body, relationships, while rejecting or distancing herself from other aspects of herself that have traditionally been related to the feminine.

It goes tornado deaf then to the signals of its body and its rhythms; to the possibility of recognizing the excesses or shortcomings that happen to him. It does not give credibility to the inner feeling that can guide it on relationships or attitudes that need to be abandoned; nor to the voice that 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 was 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 need of recognition begin to lose relevance, while The development of our interiority emerges as a priority .

Las Cansandras as medial women

Cassandra is named by the choir as the very wretched and very wise, evoking the traditional relationship of wisdom that emerges from suffering and frustration.

For Newman, the process of the evolution of collective consciousness in Western culture has gone from matriarchal unconsciousness with predominance of the instinctive, animism and the collective, to the patriarchal skepticism in which rationality and individuality have prevailed. For Newman, the necessary patriarchal stage is living its decline due to exhaustion.

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

The Jungian analyst Toni Wolf states that there is a type of women with a special sensitivity that makes them serve as mediators between the internal world and the external world . The middle women, as she calls them, are absorbed and molded by what she seeks to become conscious in a certain period becoming carriers of new principles and values.

The medial women capture and enact in the conflicts of their own lives, in the pains of their own bodies, what "is in the air", what the collective conscience does not quite admit: the need to integrate the feminine insult and repressed.

Through their art, their sufferings, they give light to the collective drama of erotically linking the masculine and feminine aspects, that as a sacred marriage act as complementary opposites without any kind of subordination. They consecrate themselves unconsciously, in the service of a new and disguised spirit of the time, as did the first martyrs. His pain constitutes a scythe for the superfluous and for the encounter with the most essential and genuine.

The collective conscience cries out for recognition and integration of the soul, of the feminine, in relationships, in institutions, in the productive model, in the instances of power. It is imperative to participate in equal conditions of the qualitative, of the non-visible. That the conquering, warlike and patriarchal colonialist logic is nuanced under the integrating and welcoming gaze of the feminine that unquestionably reveals the interdependence of all peoples and the brotherhood that binds us as a species. That also returns the sacredness and respect that the planet deserves and all the elements of nature.

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