Psychodynamics of Halloween Costumes, Avatars and Profile Images

Halloween Costumes

Halloween Costumes for adults, children and pets.
Halloween Costumes for adults, children and pets.

Halloween Costumes, Avatars and Profile Images

According to Carl Jung and Jungian psychology, everyone has a persona and a shadow. Our persona is the face or mask that we show others. The shadow represents the darker, hidden aspects of our personality that we hide from others. The two create a polarity of opposites and a need for balance; the larger the persona, the larger the shadow. A person may exert a great deal of effort to maintain a persona as a pillar of society while exerting equal effort to maintain secrecy about some deviant behavior; the judge who is a repeat DUI offender and the scout leader who despises children are examples. It is this need for balance that explains the popularity of Halloween, with its roots in pagan ritual. One night a year, children and adults get to reveal their shadow for all to see, have fun doing so, and even experience social acceptance. Once the demons are exorcised, we are better prepared to celebrate the more positive holidays that follow: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year.

From a Jungian perspective, we can learn a lot about a person from their choice of Halloween costumes and even their choice of an avatar or profile image. Aside from some practical aspects of choosing a costume, such as time, comfort and price which can reveal aspects of our personality related to time management, discomfort tolerance and spending behaviors; there are more complex patterns of personality revealed in our choice of a costume, avatar or profile image that can be understood from Jungian psychology. A person may choose a costume that further perpetuates his or her persona and hides the shadow, or one that unknowingly reveals the shadow. A woman who is sexually repressed may choose a costume as a harlot or wench. A woman with a healthy sense of her sexuality may choose the same costume. A man who is uncomfortable with his feminine side may choose a costume that accentuates his masculine strength, such as a body builder or a super hero. A gay male might do the same. A heterosexual man who is secure in his masculinity might choose an effeminate costume, as might also a gay male who is comfortable with his homosexuality.

While our amateur analyses may not be accurate, they can make great conversation openers at a costume party. Further analysis of character interactions at a costume party can be interesting as well. When the guy at the office who has issues with women because of a dominating and overbearing mother dresses as a devil and displays the courage to flirt with an attractive co-worker with self esteem issues who is dressed as a witch, some working through of internal and interpersonal conflict is occurring in much the same way as a child works through conflict in play activities. Both are having far too much fun to realize they are working so hard. Observing these interactions is like being in the audience of a reality show, and learning something about oneself in the process.

One additional population for our analysis is the family pet. In choosing a pet costume, the owner may choose a prisoner costume for the dog that steals the neighbor’s newspapers, or put a frilly and feminine costume on a mean looking hound dog or Rottweiler. In the first instance, the owner accentuated the pet’s characteristic. In the second instance, the owner accentuated the opposite of the pet’s character. In other instances, an owner might “project” an aspect of him or herself on to the pet. For example, an owner who feels ineffective and inadequate might dress his pet as a superhero, and vicariously experience praises from others. An owner who is proud of his pet’s pedigree might choose to dress his pet in formal attire. The woman who never married might dress her dog as a bride.

As was suggested earlier, Halloween and dressing in costume only comes around once a year. As internet use increases, however, more of us are using costumes in the form of avatars and profile images on a daily basis. Are we exorcising our demons more frequently and resolving more conflict? Are we over indulging in a pleasurable activity or exercising our need to play and re-create? What do our avatars and profile images say about us? Do they represent our persona or our shadow?


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Comments 25 comments

msorensson profile image

msorensson 6 years ago

Fascinating...This is the first time I thought about it this way. Thanks.


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 6 years ago Author

Thank you msorensson. I've been mindful of it since my sweet, gentle, kind daughter announced in early elementary school that the biblical character she wanted to be for Halloween was the angel of death!


vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 6 years ago from Yucaipa, California

Hey, Halloween in August. I love this hub. VERY INFORMATIVE AND VERY FUNNY. I love Carl. He and I hung out together back at the turn of the 20th century. He shadowed me during my internship!!

Seriously, I am probably a jungian at heart and I never try to get rid of any part of myself, because it just comes back with a vengeance.

I really like Thomas More and his works.

To be honest, I hadn''t either thought about costumes and Jung, altho it is obvious! Yes, yes. I am surprised there are not more comments, but then folks are scurring about, perhaps, trying to get rid of their costumes before making a comment. Did you cite the example of the FBI guy, I am having a blank on his name--the Hoover guy. Ah yes, just googled it. J Edgar!! What a shadow!

Hey great hub, Kim! Hope more folks check it out. Maybe you will get a burst of interest in early October!!

One more thing. Are those pet costumes people dressed up like pets or pets getting ready for Halloween?

Either way, FABULOUS STUFF!

I love it

Vern


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 6 years ago Author

According to the last link above, "despite the economy, 64.5 percent of consumers plan to spend a total of $5.77 billion on the holiday this year, according to the National Retail Federation's recent survey." So, if we're going to spend any of that online, the time to order is beginning now!

I also love Thomas More, especially Care of the Soul. I read Carl Jung's memoirs in HS and again before grad school. I was both disturbed and comforted to learn about the shadow, and his No. 1 and No. 2 which he later coined as introversion and extroversion. He described times in his life when he was No. 1 and other times No. 2.

Very funny; Carl shadowed you! I don't know about J Edgar Hoover's shadow. Please enlighten.

Thanks Vern. I think they are cats dressed up as dogs getting ready for Holloween.


vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 6 years ago from Yucaipa, California

Hey Kim,

I thought I heard J Edgar was a cross dresser in secret, in shadow!


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 6 years ago Author

no kidding?! hmmm.


Lady Guinevere profile image

Lady Guinevere 6 years ago from West Virginia

Interesting. I have had many different costumes all of which include a witch. I have also been a princess, used my wedding dress from my former marriage and glued many jewels with the flat backs on it. I was a bunny when I was 8 months pregnant and that is why I chose that. My favorite is the witch but I haven't dressed up in a costume in many years now. I wrote a hub about why I chose the name Lady Guinevere too.


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 6 years ago Author

I'll have to check out the hub on Lady Guinevere! Love the bunny idea with the fertility theme. Of course that could have been a desire to be a playboy bunny....if not for the 8 months pregnant! haha. Thanks for stopping to read and comment, Lady G.


Lady Guinevere profile image

Lady Guinevere 6 years ago from West Virginia

Hahahaha, playboy bunny!! Thanks for leaving a comment on mine as well.


billyaustindillon profile image

billyaustindillon 6 years ago

Kim this was something that I thought at first Jung and Halloween what is she talking about - is this Grand am thing doing things to her mind....then the further I read I was enthralled - fascinating and I will be watching everyone's costumes this year and wondering what Jung would say.


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 6 years ago Author

WWJS - what would jung say! I re-read this. It does take me awhile before I connect Jung to Halloween! It probably is the grandma thing: patience, my child. Thanks for stopping in, BAD.


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

I'm afraid there is nothing exiting or mysterious about my avatar. Alas...


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 6 years ago Author

your pleasure in cycling comes through very clearly, Micky Dee. I bet I know what you'll be for Halloween.


Lifeallstar1 profile image

Lifeallstar1 6 years ago

Wow..second hub I read of yours and it's another hit! I found this so interesting. I guess finding any decent picture that fit in the little box to make an avatar shows I'm pretty boring..LOL. I'm trying to think of past Halloween choices and what they might mean. I was spongebob one year, wonder what that means? I normally do things with a group of friends and we have a theme. There were like 20 spongebobs at the party mixed in with whatever other people were. It was humorous to us anyway. I'm so glad I read this before Halloween this year. Very cool. Thanks! Jess


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 6 years ago Author

You're batting 1000 then. Don't stop now! 20 spongebobs? Sounds fun. I love costume parties. Thanks for reading and commenting Lifeallstar1. Let me know what you decide for a costume this year.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa

Fascinating stuff, this. Thanks so much for the interesting take on costumes and avatars!

Love and peace

Tony


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 6 years ago Author

No problem tonymac. Thank you for checking it out, and stopping to comment on it. I suppose it is a different take anyway.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

Brilliant! I loved the comparisons to our psychological makeup. Very cool. :)

Next to Christmas, Halloween is my favorite holiday--which everyone knows isn't really a 'holiday'. And, my favorite costume as a kid was a gypsy girl...when I got old enough and childless enough (after my kids were grown) I ended up becoming a travel nurse- hmmm no conincidence there!

So, what does my avatar say about me? (transformation? Flight? Movement?)

Fun hub. Thanks.


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 6 years ago Author

That's funny. gypsy to traveling nurse. you must be well traveled!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA

I found your this hub a fascinating exploration of the psychology behind ones choice of Halloween costumes. My choice of costume for many years was a gypsy - not surprising at all to those who know me! My avatar...another side of my personality. Thanks for a great hub!


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 5 years ago Author

I hope you and Denise have met then, since you are both gypsies at heart! Hmm maybe one of those hub gatherings should be held at Halloween and we all attend in costume! Thanks for reading Stephanie, and sharing about your inner gypsy!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA

I'm not surprised that Denise and I are both gypsies at heart! Wouldn't it be fun to have a Halloween costume party!


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 5 years ago Author

It would:)


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 5 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

I love psychology and personality "tests."

Can't get behind dressing up pets, tho. I know some think it's cute. My cats would NEVER tolerate it:-).

Voted up. Happy day after Halloween! MM


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 5 years ago Author

LOL. I love it, Mighty Mom. Next hub will be on the psychology of pets: those that will allow their owners to dress them and those that won't! Thanks for the Halloween Season Greeting. And may you have a lovely week after:)

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