What sorts of costumes do you gravitate to for Halloween either in the present or in years past? Do you transform into a superhero? The political figure you like or hate the most? The latest reality TV star?
Our costume choices reveal a lot about our inner fears and desires. They also allow us to reinvent ourselves—if only for the night. “It’s permission to let your underside or dark side come out. We can release what we normally keep under wraps,” G. Dennis Rains, a psychology professor at Kutztown University in Kutztown, Pa. said in an interview with US News and World Report.
Angela Haupt, my former colleague at US News, analyzed 10 popular Halloween costume choices and what they say about our psyche. We go as political figures (or popular sport figures) to “display our knowledge of current events” and bedbugs to conquer our fears. We dress as superheroes to combat feelings of inadequacy. Vampires and witches may be about expressing sexual passion and the desire to dominate or control another person.
Sometimes, though, we reveal too much with our costume choices, according to Emory psychologist Jared DeFife, who posted this tongue-in-cheek blog on Psychology Today taking down those who dress like Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga. “Could there be a more neurotic costume choice?” wrote DeFife. “Dressing up like one of these glitzy pop stars screams of internal emotional and gender conflict.”