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SHAME, GUILT AND TRANSFORMATION (2)

A good example, suggested by one of my Mexican students when I had told them that most of fairy tales were associated to guilt, is Pinocchio. Considering that must people know the story through Walt Disney’s production, let us use it as the main version; the original book, written by Carlo Collodi can be very gloomy.



From beginning to end, Pinocchio is all about a process of humanization; let us see how it happens: the moment the wooden marionette, who has become alive, realizes that he is not a normal child, he is ashamed, he just wants to be human. Geppetto is a brilliant wood carver but he is old and feels lonely, he wants to have a son. With a weak personality, a depressed father can make his child feel himself deficient, the child’s own sense of identity gets associated to shame. Pinocchio wants to be accepted and admired; unfortunately, he cannot be at the level of his ideal self, that is why he lies. But lies cannot change reality, they make things worse.

According to professor Ewan Fernie, for some authors like Marlow or Ben Jonson, shame leads to death or exemplary punishments; in Shakespeare, a great poet who explored all kinds of human reactions, shame provokes deformity. In the next article we will explore three of his plays, Othello, Hamlet and King Lear, to see how shame acts on the hero’s sense of identity and how the possibility for transformation through the discovery of the real Self is made possible. For the moment, let us see how shame works on our dear Pinocchio.

The easiest way would be to associate Pinocchio’s deformations with guilt; in this fairy tale guilt lingers around the corner, Pinocchio feels guilty because he has been naughty and has disobeyed his father; but when we think that the main theme is all about becoming an authentic human being, then, Pinocchio’s nose getting longer when he tells lies appears as deformation produced by his sense of shame. There are several episodes of disfigurement in the tale as when he is turning into a donkey. A wooden marionette aspiring to become a normal boy has to show that he is at the level of his ambition; humanity is associated to dignity, and a liar cannot respect himself; someone who allows himself to be manipulated can hardly keep his dignity.

The Blue Fairy in the tale stands for the ideal self (a real human being), thus she has magical powers, but she asks Pinocchio to be truthful to his own conscience; this conscience (responsibility and the capacity to distinguish between good and bad) stands for the inferior function of the psyche, that is why it is represented by an insignificant cricket. Thus, the Fairy and the cricket are the opposites poles of Saturn, the ideal self against the law of reality (we despise reality when we are infatuated, we do not want to accept the hard facts of life).

Pinocchio has to jump into the ocean to rescue his father swallowed by the whale; we have to plunge into the unconscious to face our own darkness; the whale and the Blue Fairy also represent two extreme aspects of the absent mother image. This adventure might be associated to a symbolic death, the inflated ego has to die for transformation to happen (Pinocchio literally dies); this episode is a parallel to the biblical story of Jonah and the Whale. Making a fire inside the bottom of our psyche means facing fears and complexes; the burning sensation of shame popping us again to life.

The boy has come back to life, he is not anymore an ashamed puppet, he has acquired will and self respect through facing his own shame, he has become a real human being. We have explored this process from Pinocchio’s point of view, but the tale could be seen from Geppetto’s own perspective; in this last case, Pinocchio would represent the inner child of an aging man. Albeit creative and talented, Geppetto lives depressed and lonely, he cannot feel, his emotional life is like wood, he is ashamed of himself. What is the point of having talents if you cannot assume your real emotions? This artist must have had a sad childhood, he needs to learn how to relate to the real world through his inner child, he has to acquire an authentic sense of identity. (the end)

In Japanese
SHAME, GUILT AND TRANSFORMATION (1)

by xavier_astro | 2012-08-15 00:00 | 心理  

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