One of the ways we learn about custom is through the fairy tales our caregivers tell us. Stories that are carried through the ages have messages in them that are important for our development. Through the lens of depth psychology, we often learn about what is important to a culture by studying the stories that are popular within it. Stories that recycle throughout generations and change relevant to each generation’s uniqueness are particularly of interest.

In Bram Stoker’s original story, Dracula, (released in 1897), the vampires sucked blood to their victim’s ultimate demise, and any victim- human or animal would suffice. However in the latest twist on the theme, Twilight, the vampire legacy is being changed slightly, with some vampires choosing only the blood of animals.

What might the change in story line inform us about this very ancient fear, in depth psychological terms? Depth psychology starts by researching the symbol, and in this case, what does the symbol of a blood-sucking vampire reveal?

Blood represents life, and it can also represent creativity, especially in the sense that creativity is the energy needed to create life. In her book, On the Way to the Wedding, Linda Leonard explains the Dracula myth as revealing the nature of possession (both our human desire to possess and/or to be possessed). In our real lives we can see the myth show up in the form of obsessive jealousy, addiction, and of perpetually offering up one’s creativity (lifeblood) for the benefit of another. We might call the relationship between a vampire and its victim an (extremely unhealthy) co-dependent relationship.

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Often the way we feel about a particular person is reflective of what that person represents within us. That is to say, if there is something we do not like about someone else, it may represent a shadow nature that we, ourselves,possess. This is Carl Jung‘s classic idea of shadow projection, and a premise of depth psychology. We hear the terms in today’s vernacular, “…maybe I’m projecting, but I feel as though…” or “That’s his shadow, he doesn’t see how his actions are affecting me.”

Similarly, we can view our relationship to a group, say animals, as reflective of what they represent within us.

Recently, I attended a book signing by author Marc Bekoff, who wrote a book I like called, The Emotional Lives of Animals. In it, Bekoff discusses the unfortunate view of science that laboratory animals do not possess emotions thus they do not experience the suffering of scientific testing. In fact, although it is supposed to be in place for their protection, the Animal Welfare Act excludes rats bred for research from the definition of “animal” for scientific needs.

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