(This blog was originally posted on October 31, 2016)
Every October 31, people have an opportunity to don costumes and assume temporary identities of someone or even something else. I am fascinated by the costume choices people make, whether they choose to embody Disney characters from the hit film, Frozen, favorite rock stars/musicians, monsters (werewolves or vampires), superheroes, princesses/princes, animals or even politicians. Halloween celebrations become a free-for-all of fantastical expression; even grown-ups can get in on the fun. My question is: What, or who, does that chosen alter-ego represent to the person behind the mask?
I have observed that the costume expression that Halloween celebrants embody range from fun and good-natured to genuinely frightening or even sinister. The subconscious motivation of those dressed as heroes/superheroes, Disney characters, royalty and other generally positive or benign identities might represent the person’s abilities or personality or project an aspect of wish-fulfillment. (Who hasn’t ever wanted to be a prince or princess, or to possess a super-human skill that could save the world? I certainly did.) Perhaps the costume is even a conscious projection of an intention to attract a skill or talent into the person’s life, which is represented what he or she is wearing.
At the other end of this spectrum are costumes that are designed to trigger anxiety or even a fear response. Apparently the zombies from The Walking Dead television series are popular costume choices in the scary/monster end of the dress-up spectrum. Unlike vampires—at least, the seductive incarnation of vampires in modern Young Adult novels and movies—zombies are the epitome of everything terrifying we imagine about death. Not only do zombies appear in various stages of decay and possess untold, albeit clumsy, strength, their very survival depends on killing and eating (brains) their victims. Could there be anything more frightening than seeing your dearly-departed relative wandering around, intent on doing you harm?
Another popular costume last year honored the 2016 Presidential candidates: Democratic Party nominee, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republican Party nominee, now President Donald J. Trump (R). Did the real candidates represent a real or perceived threat that the Halloween celebrants to metaphorically exorcise before the election on November 8? Or, did the costume enable the wearer to publicly express some secretly admired behaviors or traits that the person did not want to (publicly) own?
It’s something to think about.
Sara R. Fogan, C.Ht. is a certified hypnotherapist based in Southern California. She graduated with honors from the Hypnosis Motivation Institute in 2005. For more information about Calminsense Hypnotherapy® and to set up an appointment, please visit http://www.calminsensehypnotherapy.com/.