|Jackie Evancho, discovered and became a sensation on Americas Got Talent|
Rags to riches stories make us feel that we can conquer our fears, work hard and achieve. When an unattractive person finds success with talent we applaud that. When a disabled person rises above the disability to achieve in life and business, we are pleased. These are the human fairy tales that are good, that teach us about the higher qualities of ourselves and others and give us hope for the future.
We look for, and long for, fairy tale folk in our lives for many reasons, much of which has to do with getting out of our problems and our small universes into a bigger world where there is hope and goodness.
During the depression movies were successful, again because people could escape into the fairy tales of existence. They could see Lana Turner making it big from soda fountain to major movie star. They found hope, love and drama out of watching movies where people lived out loud and demonstrated that there could be a happy ending in spite of hard times. It was a way to escape the real hard times and find joy in watching people glamorously enjoy life in ways that people then could not.
It isn't just good stories, however, that are part of the fairy tales we seek or use. Evil in the world is also part of the fairy tales we learn. There is also a beast with beauty, or the evil troll under the bridge that can catch the hero and cause trouble. There are wolves that can enter a home, eat grandma and wait for Little Red Riding Hood to come in to get her too. Movies and stories like that make our own lives look less hard. We tend to demonize real-life characters, like mothers who allegedly kill their children in real-life stories like Casey Anthony who is thought by the State of Florida to have killed her child Caylee. A woman like Michelle Huckaby, accused of raping and killing Sandra Cantu, fascinated us and revolted us because that too is an escape from the problems we have. It is also why crime stories are popular. And when victims escape and are able to build new lives, as the young women have done in Cleveland, we are able to see the happy ending and recognize that there can be a happy ending in the worst kind of situation, the kind we pay personally face ourselves. Amanda Berry, Georgina "Gina" DeJesus, and Michelle Knight moved beyond the terrible event of their kidnapping and 10-year horror in captivity to work well on rebuilding their lives. In some ways they are the real life Sleeping Beauty who was rescued by the trolls and returns to a beautiful life.
There are always people in worse shape, we can see; and so our own lives don't appear to be as difficult. We can project our anger and frustration on figures that are unlikeable for that reason.
Our personal lives are like fairy tales. We use the descriptions found in them to describe the events in our lives. We talk about going down long roads, about the twists and turns and dramas in our journeys in fairy-tale terms because we are able to see our lives apart from ourselves in order to interpret their meanings. We refer to the man we seek for love as a "Prince Charming" and women we think are ugly or mean as witches. Again this allows us to label so others can understand and we have a way to discharge our feelings.
Therapists sometimes use fairy tales in therapy. People learn to act out certain archetypes in learning why they do certain things and how those things either advance them or get them into trouble. They also help us see that we can realize our dreams and get past our fears to move ahead, just as a Susan Boyle or Paul Potts have done with unattractive images yet with resounding success. The ugly duckling becomes a swan before our very eyes, telling us that we can be one too. In fact Potts life has been is the stuff of real movies because of his life story that involves physical and emotional rags to riches details.
We find in fairy tales what is missing in our own lives. That enhances our sense of creativity, one of the principal areas we need to work on to alleviate depression. So fairy tales have a way of lifting sadness and moving our thinking to positive ideas rather than negative ones.
Fairy tales that become real make us remember our childhood, the surprises and joy we felt when we learned that a character lived happily ever after. It is why with just a few notes from a song someone like Susan Boyle, the wonderful woman who sang with such beauty and intensity, thrilled so many people. This was our Sleeping Beauty, our Cinderella our Horatio Alger story in female form. Out of something that looked like defeat, success and happily ever after came through. That tells us that no matter who or where we are perhaps our lives can turn a corner and be better too. That's why we all need fairy tales.