At the heart of Glasser’s (1979) concept of the core complex is a universal developmental step which deals with a child’s anxieties of abandonment and engulfment during early separation and individuation from their mother. Faced with this the individual either withdraws, experiencing tremendous isolation and feelings of abandonment, or reacts aggressively in fantasy or reality against the object in an effort to preserve the self. Aggression is a central component of the core complex. The annihilatory fear of a loss of separate existence provokes an intense aggressive reaction on the part of the ego. The Core Complex, therefore, describes a way of relating to significant others through sexualisation. This eroticised aggression towards the object is inevitably expressed through masochistic and sadistic behaviours.

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