Ajase Complex (International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis)
Heisaku Kosawa visited Sigmund Freud in 1932 and presented this paper on the Ajase complex. The paper was entitled "Two Kinds of Guilt Feelings" and subtitled "The Ajase Complex."
The Ajase complex is an original theory developed by Kosawa, and subsequently expanded by Keigo Okonogi. Whereas Freud based his Oedipus complex on a Greek tragedy, Kosawa developed his theory on the Ajase complex from stories found in Buddhist scripture. The story of Ajase centers on the Buddhist concept of reincarnation. Well known to the Buddhist world, Ajase's story appears with many variations in the scriptures of ancient India. Kosawa modeled his theory on the version of Ajase story appearing in the Kanmuryojukyo, a Buddhist scripture centering on the salvation of the mother.
Ajase was the son of a king in India. His mother, fearing the loss of her youth and beauty, wanted to bear a child so she could retain her status. A prophet told her that a hermit who lived in the forest would be reborn as the king's son. The queen, however, wanted the child as soon as possible and killed the hermit, who then entered her womb. The child that she bore was named Ajase. Just before being slain, the hermit had told the queen that he would be reborn as her son and curse his father. The queen, fearful of what she had done, tried to abort and kill the baby, but she failed and Ajase survived. When Ajase grew up and learned the secret surrounding his birth, he became angry with the queen and attempted to slay her, but was dissuaded from this act by a minister. At that moment, Ajase was attacked by a severe guilt feeling and became afflicted with a dreadful skin disease characterized by so offensive an odor that no one dared approach him. Only his mother stood by and lovingly nursed him. Despite his mother's devoted care, Ajase did not readily recover. Seeking relief, the queen went to the Buddha and told him of her sufferings. The Buddha's teachings healed her inner conflict, and she returned to continue to care for her Ajase. Eventually, the Prince was cured to become a widely respected ruler.
This is the version of the Ajase story Kosawa wrote in the 1950s, based on the Kanmuiryojukyo. The themes of the Ajase complex are as follows:
- A mother's conflict between her wish for a child and an infanticidal wish;
- Prenatal rancor and matricidal wish in the child, Ajase. According to the parable of reincarnation, Ajase is the reincarnation of a hermit whom his mother had killed. In other words, he hates his mother for having killed him before his birth. Prenatal rancor means hatred for the origin of one's birth. Prenatal rancor led Ajase to try to kill his mother when he learned the origin of his birth;
- Two kinds of guilt feelings. Ajase was overcome with strong feelings of guilt after attempting to slay his mother, and became afflicted with a terrible, painful skin disease characterized by foul-smelling abscesses. Kosawa called this feeling of guilt "a punitive guilt feeling." Only his mother's forgiveness and nursing brought him back to health. Kosawa called the feeling of guilt that Ajase experienced "a forgiven guilt feeling."
See also: Complex; Guilt, unconscious sense of; Guilt, feeling of; Wish for a baby.
Kosawa, Heisaku. (1931). Two kinds of guilt feelings. The Ajase complex. Japanese Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 11, 1954.
Kosawa, Heisaku. (1935, March-April). Two types of guilt consciousnessedipus and Ajase. Tokyo Journal of Psychoanalysis, 11.