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Ghosts, Skeletons, False Faces & Halloween

Psychotherapy — admin @ 11:27 am

Ghosts, Skeletons, False Faces & Halloween . . .

It’s that time of year again when the clocks go back and the evenings are darker earlier, marked by Halloween. It can bring back good memories of bobbin apples in dishes of water, apple tarts with money in and barmbrack with a gold ring that usually wasn’t a full circle and certainly wasn’t gold (always found in the adults piece of brack!). And Pumpkins…..something rare here in the past and only associated with America but now they’re in every supermarket in town. My sister even grows them in her garden!. No more painstaking hours of scooping out a turnip! ( I don’t know how my Mother did that every year).

There’s lots of fun to be had for kids of all ages as they dress up as witches, skeletons, ghosts and ghouls to knock on doors of neighbours and strangers in search of treats. Trick or treating has evolved as a regular event at dusk on Halloween. Creating positive memories for children at these significant times in the year is really important and something they will carry with them as adults and pass down the line to their children.

It got me thinking about good and bad memories we attach to momentous events and what we carry in our memory store. What ghosts from the past do we carry with us on a daily basis, not just reserved for one day of the year….what skeletons are ‘in the closet’ so to speak that we are reluctant to look at and get rid of once and for all….what masks do we hide behind as we go about our daily business, revealing our true selves to few, if any, if even to ourselves? Donald Winnicott, a British Psychoanalyst and Paediatrician (1896-1971) talks of the ‘true self’ and the ‘false self’. As babies if we are responded to by our mothers we can develop our true selves. The false self is something we build up in response to social expectations and others. It’s a mask behind which our true self is hidden and where we are tuned into the needs of others so much that we act outside of ourselves. There can be a sense of not living your truth and fundamental unhappiness despite “having it all” in society’s opinion. We can become very skilled at this and seem to be able to get by until painful experiences in life force us to examine what are lives are really like.

The ‘bad stuff’ can take up so much room in the ‘closet’ of our minds. We can give enormous energy to these old ghosts, even at an unconscious level (so we don’t even realise), causing disharmony and unhappiness. Getting rid of psychological baggage, while difficult, can really free us up to enjoy living, to get into the spirit of things, like the children who will come knocking on your door, hoping to be met with kindness and loads of goodies!


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