Psychoanalytical analysis of myth


Myths have been an excellent source of interpretation from psychologists on how myths can relate to human thought and the brain. Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung are two such known psychologists. Freud favored that myths explain psychological processes relating to childhood while Jung was more interested in the adult psyche. The myth of Theseus relates to Freud's view where the child focuses on the mother and forced separation from her is marked by the child's initiation into adolescence and manhood. The myth of Theseus and the labyrinth is an excellent example of psychoanalysis. It can be explored in such a way where recognition, and its absence, is used in the development of self. Recognition is developmental and a process where one strives to be seen fully by others. Shame spawns from the absence of recognition. However, shame is also a part of self-recognition and development. Intimacy and a sense of coherence require some form of shame. Theseus was not expected as a child and he went through stages of abandonment, which he tried to deal with in his adult life by facing down other problems.

The Greek myth of Theseus and Ariadne is symbolic of how a child's psyche receives the aspect of thought. The myth tells the story of how Ariadne, daughter of the king of Crete and sister to the half-man half-bull minotaur, falls in love with Theseus and presents him with a coil of thread that he can use to trace his way out of the labyrinth. Theseus defeats the Minotaur and escapes by retracing his steps using the thread Ariadne gives him. The dark and shapeless labyrinth stands in for the beginning condition of the child's thoughts, the Minotaur the brainless infant, and Ariadne the mother whose advice (the thread) creatively assists Theseus (the developing, beloved child) in conquering the darkness of prethought and pre-speech through the close bond to the mother. The brainless infant, Theseus, then attains the aspect of thought and reasoned action.

The myth of Theseus and the labyrinth also represents how myths can be tied to universal stresses and worries. Myths are also believed to be representations of the collective unconscious because myths are similar cross-country. All people share a common set of worries and issues and the hero is the representation of society coming to grips with some sort of problem. In the case of Theseus and the labyrinth, the labyrinth represents the living area of society's collective unconscious, which is represented by the Minotaur. His sister, Ariadne, is the only one who has any connection to the Minotaur through the thread she presents to Theseus, allowing him to challenge and defeat the Minotaur. This represents everyone's necessity to either meet or fail all of life's challenges where everyone experiences honor and success, failure and embarrassment, and bravery and doom. Resemblances often occur between myths and dreams throughout society. Through dreaming, society is looking for that thread from Adriane to help them through the challenges of everyday life (the labyrinth) and feel a sense of health, completeness and safety.

Lastly, the ancient Greek myth of Theseus and the labyrinth and the Minotaur provides a representation for the psychological concept of the Oedipus complex. The labyrinth is representative of the mother's body as the first place for an infant's exploration and curiosity. The Minotaur then suggests the infant's unconscious fantasies about the mother's body. Furthermore, the myth of Theseus and the labyrinth represents development of courage for the child to perform many things: to challenge, to face risks, to rescue, to create, to know, and to explore, all tasks that heroes undertake regularly. The Minotaur then becomes an object of confrontation, which becomes an object of doom if it is not dealt with through the development of the infant's ego. In conclusion, the myth of Theseus and the labyrinth is an excellent example of psychoanalysis that ties in multiple forms of interpretation.

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