Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Psychoanalysis of the "Max & Ruby" series
You probably know already, I interpret dreams. Dreams are gateways to the unconscious. But they aren't the only possible ways to discern the fascinating realm of the unconscious. Art, language, intuitive flashes, and story--even children's story--are all possible expressions of the that great force within us. Just for kicks and giggles, here's a symbolic interpretation I did recently on the children's book series, "Max & Ruby."
So... this may be a little precious, but I had fun doing it.
The writer of these works of literature seems to have an obsession with youth and being young. The fact that the characters in the books never age, remaining persistently in their childhood years indicates the tendency towards a kind of "Peter Pan" complex. Even the choice of animal is significant--rabbits are known for being prolific breeders, which underlines the obsession with youth. And yet, the Ruby character shows signs of longing for maturity, in how she is always trying to do adult-like things, such as wear makeup, host parties, and follow the "rules" of the home.
The entire series could be seen as the archetypal struggle within each of us between the inner child, and the push for evolution and maturity. A healthy balance between these two forces can be achieved through the individuation process-- accepting each of these forces as separate poles of a single, healthy spectrum within the complex human condition. It is healthy to accept the aging and maturity process as a source of wisdom and structure, and it is also important to nourish one's inner child as a source of innocence and hope.
When these poles are out of balance with each other, though, problems can arise. Too much "maturity" can lead to rigidity and domineering attitudes, while too much "youth" can lead to irresponsibility and getting taken advantage of. The Max and Ruby stories indicate that the author has not yet learned to resolve this tension and individuate these opposing forces. We do, in fact, see an over-domineering figure who strives for maturity, and an irresponsible figure who remains youthful. Every Max & Ruby story, though different in details, has the same archetypal plot--the maturity figure tries to force an agenda of conformity, and the youthful figure silently subverts it.
Notice that the youthful figure is mute and must resort to subterfuge to accomplish his goals in the push-and-pull game. This indicates that even though the author of the book identifies CONSCIOUSLY with her mature responsible side, it is really the UNCONSCIOUS youthful side of herself that is running the show and causing her to self-sabotage. However, neither side ends up fully happy. The youth figure, even though he "wins," is effectively mute, doomed to remain lurking in the shadows of the unconscious, never able to achieve full expression, while the maturity figure is frustrated. No progress is made, individuation is not achieved, and the cycle continues.
It is also significant that the "maturity" figure is female, while the "youth" figure is male. This indicates that the author feels her feminine side is the one driving the urges for maturity, while her masculine side is driving the urges for youth. (Masculine energies in symbolism represent our outer world, our outwardly-focused energies--career, society, and such. While feminine energies represent our inner world, our inwardly-focused energies--emotions, receptivity, and such.) When the masculine/feminine polarity is out of balance, it can lead to problems as well. I would venture a guess that the author often feels that her inner emotions regarding her outer life feel out of control, and she finds herself in situations of self-sabotage, again and again throughout her life.
An exercise I would have the author (and anyone else who feels deeply drawn to this literature) engage in would be such:
Close your eyes, and imagine Max and Ruby standing before you. Envision a magic wand in your hand, and wave it over Max, which loosens his tongue and allows him to speak. Let him pour out his heart... whatever comes out is OK, do not block the flow. You may be surprised by what comes out, but it is all in the service of healing. (Take note of any childhood memories that may arise, or beliefs instilled in you at a young age. These may need to be worked through in future sessions.) Then imagine Max and Ruby holding hands, looking each other in the eyes, and saying to each other, "Let's work together as a team."
Visualize this every day for at least two weeks; you will notice subtle but powerful changes in your life. Keep track of your progress, feelings, and any synchronicities that occur.