The Cassandra complex

The Cassandra complex

The Cassandra complex refers to the caricature of a person thinking that they can predict the future without being able to modify it. This strange phenomenon can torment those who suffer by making predictions that are not believed by others.

In Greek mythology, Cassander was one of the princesses of Troyes, daughter of Priam and Hecube. According to legends, she was a beautiful woman who was blessed with the gift of seeing the future. However, this ability was accompanied by a curse: no one would believe it.

For this reason, Cassandra was able to anticipate the outcome of many disastrous events such as the acceptance of the famous Greek horse by the Trojans. Cassandra's family thought she had gone mad and did not believe for a second in her strange story about the intention of the Greeks to attack the city. Of course, the famous story ended with the defeat of the Trojans and the destruction and looting of their city.

The versions of the story vary, and sometimes even Cassandra ends up being trapped in his madness. Clear, Cassandra has always been portrayed as a misunderstood woman. Thus, the origins of the myth rest on the story of a divine punishment that the god Apollo imposed on this woman. This punishment was the result of Cassandra's rejection of Apollo. The man then decided to take revenge with a gift that would only bring frustration and despair to the woman.

The complex of Cassandra from the myth: the invisibility of women

After the stories related to the myth of Cassandra, we have adopted the term "Cassandra Complex" to refer to people who make generally catastrophic predictions without being believed by others. Due to advances in scientific knowledge, the general mentality of our society tends towards a certain rationality and an empiricism which leaves aside aspects not related to the rational, such as imaginative visions.

This type of conclusion is usually made invisible and is considered mere coincidence. In ancient Greece, the patriarchal society that reigned was characterized by its assimilation of the feminine with the lack, the weak and likely to be dominated and exploited.

Submission and silence were the ideal virtues for women's behavior. This mentality that survives in part today has given birth to many invisible women. However, many evidences prove that women have had a significant presence regarding a great deal of historical success, on the political, scientific and artistic levels.

The Cassandra complex can explain how patriarchal logic has absorbed these successes, by leaving merit to women and referring it to figures such as fathers, brothers or spouses. Today, it is not difficult to see examples of invisibilisation of women in the media, where much of their opportunities for success rely on their physical appearance.

The woman as merchandise and property

The myth tells how, once Troyes was invaded and lootedCassandra was delivered as a spoils of war to the Greek king Agamemnon. The story shows an archaic portrait of the woman's body which, even at our level of history, is used as a commodity, as an object of pleasure for men and as a showcase for selling a product.

The objectification of the female body is the order of the day. So, the majority of women face significant barriers in their personal or professional development because they are judged for their physical appearance or age, more than for their skills, their intellectual potential, or their success.

Furthermore, a lot of women have to face some structural disbelief. In a patriarchal society, women who want to fight for the elimination of gender differences and stereotypes are often overlooked or marginalized.

After many obstacles and disadvantages, many women manage to reach positions of power and recognition different from what is traditionally expected of them – such as the beauty or caring of others -. They are therefore less delegitimized, disqualified or not taken seriously.

This situation can be directly related to the phenomenon of Cassandra and the way society has become deaf to female successes that come out of expectations.

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