In mythology, clowns represent deception. They, like so many of us, hide their true feelings behind a fake smile.‘Universal [in mythology] is the casting of the antagonist, the representative of evil, in the role of the clown. Devils—both the lusty thickheads and the sharp, clever deceivers—are always clowns. Though they may triumph in the world of space and time, both they and their work simply disappear when the perspective shifts to the transcendental. They are the mistakers of shadow for substance: they symbolize the inevitable imperfections of the realm of shadow, and so long as we remain this side the veil cannot be done away.’ Joseph Campbell. The Hero with a Thousand Faces
The fact is that most people are not open or honest about the struggle they go through with their own thoughts and feelings. They ‘put on a brave face’ and ‘keep a stiff upper lip’. They are like the proverbial clown crying on the inside; the bright face paint and chirpy antics are all we see. It’s common in therapy to hear clients say things like, ‘If my friends/family/colleagues could hear me now, they’d never believe it. Everyone thinks I’m so strong/confident/happy/independent…’
Russ Harris. The Happiness Trap.
* In a series of posts I call mythology Monday, I look at quotes from the work of mythologist Joseph Campbell and consider them alongside extracts from books and papers on acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and related publications.