Denial and Tyranny…
Having come to the topic of denial, we must now return briefly to the original problem of the framework within which we interpret The Shining. At the familial level of analysis7, there are powerful and disturbing themes. For the individuals subjected to this sort of experience, they are self-evidently agonizing and heart-wrenching. But, the hell into which the Torrances are dragged doesn’t serve merely as a warning for families or individuals.
This behavior can be seen at the national level. Whole nations can be gripped by a tyrannical patriarch, and societies frequently find themselves in thrall to charismatic figures who tap into our darkest instincts.
As we have discussed, the father figure in psychoanalytic thinking plays an important role in the formation of the superego. Parents (both the mother and father, but with a special emphasis on the father in Freudian thought) serve as a proxy for what society deems acceptable and thereby become a symbol for society’s precepts. The symbolic meaning of the father figure, therefore, is deeply tied to the authoritative power of society and the State.
This is also partly what Carl Jung was trying to explain in his theories on the collective unconscious:
“The [dictator] State takes the place of God [who is the purest archetypal father figure in our culture8]; that is why, seen from this angle, the socialist dictatorships are religions and State slavery is a form of worship…The policy of the State is exalted to a creed, the leader or party boss becomes a demigod beyond good and evil… There is only one truth and beside it no other. It is sacrosanct and above criticism…Only the party boss, who holds the political power in his hands, can interpret the State doctrine authentically, and he does so just as suits him” (“The Undiscovered”).
One such example is the violence perpetrated under the Soviet regimes of Lenin and Stalin. Their hold on the national psyche is exemplified in their propaganda: