2. Mother and Father Complex – Conquering The Puer and Puella Aeternus

This is the second article of the Conquer The Puer and Puella Aeternus Series, if you haven’t checked the first one, you can do it here – The Mother and Father Complex – The Journey To Adulthood.

But what happens when you hesitate to become an adult and allow the dragon to win?

Well, this takes us to the problem of the Puer and Puella Aeternus.

Conquer The Puer and Puella Aeternus

“Life calls us forth to independence, and anyone who does not heed this call because of childish laziness or timidity is threatened with neurosis. And once this has broken out, it becomes an increasingly valid reason for running away from life and remaining forever in the morally poisonous atmosphere of infancy” (C. G. Jung – V5 – §461).

The condition of the Puer or Puella Aeternus can be easily described as a general fear of life and avoidance of responsibility. They are the child of the promise and are full of potential, however, they refuse their task. There’s a poignant illusion that the fantasy world is better than reality, even though they secretly know that this is just a maneuver to remain childish. However, having one foot in the eternal childhood paradise gives them a very youthful energy and fills them with creativity, inspiration, and a certain brightness.

They tend to be full of ideals and know everything that’s wrong with society. When they look at adults all they can see are people trapped “in the system”. They are the ones that know better! Everything that resembles responsibilities and commitments seems terrifying. They feel trapped, but it’s only because this confronts their childishness. The result is a provisional life.

There’s a constant longing for the perfect thing and waiting for the perfect conditions. They are constantly trying to build sand castles on a windy beach. When everything falls apart they look for someone to blame, when in reality, they never commit to anything long enough and never go all in. Many fall on the perfectionism side, but this is only a protection against an imaginary failure. “If I never try I can’t ever fail”. This mingles with procrastination, as a result, they are constantly stuck. 

Others expect to be great at something without even dedicating themselves to it. They refuse to pay the price to achieve any kind of greatness, and as soon as it gets difficult they abandon everything. But this shouldn’t matter, after all, they’re constantly substituting reality with their fantasies. And in fantasy land, they can continue dreaming about everything they want to achieve and never do anything. Everything is a maneuver to stay in this stagnant endless loop and avoid dealing with reality. They are hostages to their own fantasies and little do they know that real life can set them free, because it’s in reality that their fantasies must be given shape and be concretized.

A lot of them are extremely smart and love “deep conversations”, but there’s a huge problem. They only understand things on an intellectual level. There’s no action and experience behind it, it’s a half-knowledge that has no life. Deep down, they are huge hypocrites, because their ideals do not hold up in reality and they’re too afraid to face the world and actually live by them.

The Puer and Puella always choose “the easy way out” and tend to create conditions where they can be perceived as a victim, so others take responsibility for them. In this process, they can put their own family or friends through a living hell. But obviously, the problem is never in themselves, it’s always the parents who didn’t love them enough or weren’t able to give them everything they wanted. Alternatively, they blame “the system” and the inability of other people to see how amazing they are.

Here we arrive at one of the most important elements: Everyone believes that they know their parents, or their caregivers, extremely well, but this couldn’t be further from the truth! This relationship is mediated by an archetypal projection that evokes a cloud of misjudgments. More often than not, you’re projecting your own inabilities onto the parents. Once again, this is another maneuver to avoid dealing with reality, because while something is projected you can exempt yourself from dealing with the fact, that in reality, everything lives within. “Oh but you don’t know my mother, she’s so devouring!” Here’s the thing, she might objectively have these traits. However, this only has an overbearing effect because this triggers something within. Remember that complexes always amplify emotional reactions and they intervene in our interpretation of reality. In that way, you have to realize that you’re allowing her to have this much power over you. Because actually, you’re the one devouring yourself when you refuse to grow and take responsibility.


The Puer love is always self-centered and narcissistic as he never loves the real person, only his projection. He loves what the person can give him and how the other person makes him feel.  Everything is about him, he loves being in love because once again he’s abducted by his fantasies, in this intoxication, he can forget about the real world. But it’s all empty, the other person is just a means to an end.

As soon as his ideal of perfection starts being challenged, there’s a huge backlash or he simply vanishes. Needless to say he also has a huge fear of commitment, he never creates a real bond and is constantly avoiding seeing the reality of the other person. He abandons everyone first because, in reality, he never committed in the first place. Once again he weeps and blames the world and Limerence becomes one of the most powerful drugs.

If he manages to be in a relationship it’s always tinged by codependency, and every toxic relationship is fueled by huge projections and conflating validation with love. In the first case, the Puer or Puella are constantly seeking his mother or father in his relationships. In the second, he avoids the matter completely and creates an intellectual shield, where feelings don’t stand a chance and his sexuality is sacrificed. In both cases, the libido remains attached to the mother or father, or better put, it remains attached to his fantastical “Never Land”.

The Dark Side

“The perpetual hesitation of the neurotic to launch out into life is readily explained by his desire to stand aside so as not to get involved in the dangerous struggle for existence. But anyone who refuses to experience life must stifle his desire to live—in other words, he must commit partial suicide” (C. G. Jung – V5 – §165).

The incessant search to keep his fantasies alive can also turn poisonous very quickly. Here we arrive at the most critical element: The one that refuses to live is already partially dead. The longing for paradise and eternal mother also mingles with a constant flirt with death. Here, vices, self-destructing habits, reckless behaviors, and porn addiction can all be means to perpetuate this state of unconsciousness and avoidance. When this is coupled with new-age beliefs or nihilism a whole new clusterfuck arises and opens the door to psychosis. Beliefs like “We only have the now”, “Everything is transient”, “The real world is an illusion”, “Nothing matters”, “I must kill my ego”, etc. You get the idea.

Well, spirituality and philosophy can be great if you have roots in reality, they help you find meaning, but not for the Puer and Puella. These ideas can fuel an elaborate scheme that justifies their refusal to take responsibility for their lives, and even psychology can serve this purpose. The results are depression, anxiety, and even death fantasies. Sadly, many succumb to it. There’s a tendency to romanticize death and suffering. Some use this as e means to call attention and manipulate, and some to reaffirm their state, because, in that way, they will never need to grow.

The Sacrifice

“This sacrifice means giving up the connection with the mother, relinquishing all the ties and limitations which the psyche has taken over from childhood into adult life. It is not possible to live too long amid infantile surroundings, or in the bosom of the family, without endangering one’s psychic health” (C. G. Jung – V5 – §461). 

The Puer and Puella tell the story of an unrealized potential and a half-lived life. Healing lies in facing reality and fully committing to living life. But in order to do so, they must let go of their fantasies of being a misunderstood genius or a special snowflake, the internalized megalomania and sense of entitlement must be completely eradicated. Instead, they must learn to accept full responsibility for their actions and learn that everything has a price to be paid. Meaningful work and responsibility are the principles that can redeem their soul. Bringing their dreams to reality and fighting for them is what can revitalize their spirit. Realizing their potential and fulfilling their role as the child of the promise is what can bring meaning to their existence.

I know I said extremely harsh things, but this comes from someone that cares deeply and wants you to conquer your life. As I therapist I always find myself in a very tricky position, with each person, there’s a fine balance between validating and challenging them to grow. I know I will receive every projection imaginable and will be expected to magically cure, but nothing can happen if the person doesn’t commit to life first. Once this is done, I celebrate with them every small step in the direction of the lives they ought to be living. The journey to redeem our souls ain’t easy, but it’s in this journey that lies what we’re truly seeking. Take your call to adventure.

Don’t know where to start? “Where your fear is there’s your task”. C G. Jung

Read Next – Conquer The Puer and Puella Aeternus – Meaningul Work

Rafael Krüger – Jungian Therapist

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Conquer The Puer Aeternus – Overcoming The Mother and Father Complex

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