Icarus 2×4


The Icarus complex is a term in psychoanalysis and personality theory first used by Henry A. Murray to describe a particular type of over-ambitious character. Psychosynthesis has applied it to those in whom spiritual ambition exceeds their personality limits, leading to a backlash.

Icarus was a Greek mythological figure who tried to escape imprisonment in Crete with his father Daedalus, using wings Daedalus crafted out of feathers and wax. Daedalus warned Icarus not to fly too close to the sun or too low to the sea.

Overwhelmed with the excitement of flying, Icarus flew much too high, and as a result, the wax melted and his feathers fell off. Down Icarus plunged into the sea, and indeed into death as well. The story of Icarus is often used to signify the dangers of over-ambition.