Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!


Halloween serves an important inner function if we let it:

Psychologically, I think Halloween performs two important functions. First, Halloween allows us to collectively process our eventual death and mortality. The graveyards, corpses, blood, skeletons, and coffins of Halloween allow us, on a yearly basis, to confront our physicality and work through our largely repressed fear of death. In this, Halloween serves an important existential function. Second, Halloween allows us to work through our fears of the uncanny, the things that go bump in the night. This is the second major theme of Halloween, which manifests itself in Halloween’s evening and monster motifs, the bats, owls, ghosts and goblins. The world is a scary place at times, a strange and mysterious place, and we tend to fill its dark corners with “monsters.” Halloween, particularly for children, allows us to roam a night filled with ghosts and ghouls to find only friends and neighbors (and candy!). Again, vague fears are collectively confronted and processed.

Thus, two of the great themes of Halloween—death and the uncanny—are healthy confrontations with our collective anxieties concerning our frailness and mortality. In this, I believe Halloween is empowering to children, giving them a sense of control in a spooky and scary world.

-- Richard Beck

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