A couple of years ago, my local newspaper, The Nottingham Post, interviewed me for the Halloween story regarding the psychology of fancy dress. Before I used to be interviewed, I did so searching of academic literature databases and couldn’t look for a single academic paper which had been published on the subject. Even if this didn’t surprise me, it did suggest that everything I said to the journalist was opinion and speculation at best.
The explanation for compiling an inventory such as this was to have a better notion of precisely what the psychological motivation is behind dressing within a fancy dress costume. Although most people might point out that the main reason for dressing up in fancy dress is mainly because it’s an exciting or exciting thing to do, the list I compiled clearly shows the plethora of motivations is a lot greater than one might initially suspect. I’m not claiming that my list is exhaustive, nevertheless it implies that causes of wearing superhero costumes are many and varied. Reasons could be financial (to generate money, to boost money for charity), sexual (particular fancy dress outfits being arousing either towards the wearer or even the observer), psychological (feeling element of a united group, attention-seeking, exploring other facets of an individual’s personality), practical (concealing true identity while involved in a criminal act), and/or idiosyncratic (looking to break a world record). For others it might be coercive (e.g., being required to dress as a kind of sexual humiliation, or punishment for losing a bet).
“It is not merely punks and skinheads who place on fancy dress; Scottish country dancers, bowls players, musicians and more have their special costumes. Mass kinds of leisure usually do not assistance to give feelings of identity, except for supporting sports teams, which certainly does. This is basically the more engrossing and less common kinds of leisure who do most for identity”.
It’s debatable whether this really describes fancy dress but for a few people, fancy dress will definitely be about either self-identity or group identity. I also discovered an online article by British psychologist Dr. Catherine Tregoning that considered what people participate in most at Halloween and what it really says on them in relation to their occupation (I must bring that this article was over a job-hunting website). At Halloween, do you watch horror films? Do you carve pumpkins? Would you go on ghost hunts? Would you like dressing up in spiderman costumes? Should you, Dr. Tregoning claimed that:
“This may mean you’re what type to hold reinventing yourself and sometimes change career! Or will you operate in different guises inside your current role, altering your personality and presenting your outward self differently in accordance with who you’re with or the task in hand? Or do you really need some type of escapism out of your regular job? If you’re good at acting a part on Halloween – then make use of skills to “act” positive about a job interview or “act” calm under pressure when delivering a presentation”
Another article by Rafael Behr published in The Guardian examined the politics and psychology of fancy dress. Associated the psychology, Behr’s views had some crossover together with the interview I have done with my local newspaper on the topic:
“Children love dressing up, specifically in clothes that will make them feel evolved. Adults like dressing mainly because it reminds them of that feeling of being children getting interested in dressing like a grownup. What this means that is the fact actually becoming a grownup is usually overrated and involves spending time and effort in disappointing clothes. Anyone that goes toward a party in fancy dress will feel a pang of anxiety immediately before arrival they have made a mistake 05dexopky it is far from an expensive dress party at all. For those who have these feelings before reaching a wedding event or funeral, go home and change. Only senior people in the clergy may wear ridiculous clothes in churches”.
Finally, another online article that examined dressing for Halloween was one by psychotherapist Joyce Matter who examined whether superman costumes bring out a person’s alter ego (or as she termed it, an individual’s “shadow side”).
“Do most of us reveal our shadow sides with the costume choices? Do those areas of self that we have repressed express themselves uncontrollably whenever we are at Spirit Halloween? Perhaps… Expressive play can be one of the most cathartic experiences as well as giving us the freedom to find hidden elements of self which could contain valuable resources our company is repressing. A refusal or inability to do this reveals difficulty with self-acceptance and maybe a preoccupation together with the opinions of others…Through my serve as a therapist, I actually have arrived at believe the shadow side is not really necessarily dormant characteristics which can be negative-they generally contain positive aspects of self which we now have not been free to embody. When we honor and integrate them, they may become powerful strengths”.
As an adult, We have never place on fancy dress for Halloween. In reality, really the only time I have got decked out in anything approaching fancy dress was once i played a French butler during the murder mystery evening with friends. As there is no scientific research on the subject I don’t know if I am typical of middle-aged men or whether I am just content with my entire life that we don’t feel the need to behave out or experiment inside the confines of costume role-play.