Eric the Vampire Viking: Man or Mouse?Anja van Kralingen
Ok, I confess! Stephen and I love True Blood. (it is very psychological, OK!!!) We are currently watching Season 4; and oh what a disappointment!
Eric, Vampire, Viking….. hot, hot, HOT! Or rather he used to be… .
For those of you unfamiliar with ‘True Blood’ and the various characters, let me explain. Eric is over 1000 years old. He is a Viking made Vampire and he is BAD! Hot but BAD! And if your thing is bad boys, he is it.
But in the latest season, something happens and he loses his memory. All of a sudden, he is a wimp!
I am so over him now …
How incredible is it that this character that we have been watching for 3 Seasons and who has been so convincing, has completely turned around. The actor is obviously very skilled. Not only the actor, but his makeup, wardrobe, everything works together to project a completely different persona. And this is what I want to discuss in this blog ‘ the persona.
What is the Persona
The thing about Eric is that he used to walk with a certain swagger; a look in his eye, his hair was done a certain way, etc. Now all of a sudden he walks differently, his hair is boyish and that look in his eye has changed.
Slight differences, huge impact.
Another great example is in Beyonce’s video ‘If I were a boy’. The male actor in it is originally the ‘good guy’, but then turns into the ‘bad guy’. The video is 4 minutes long and when he turns bad, it is probably 1 minute of footage, but it is incredible! You don’t actually realise what he is doing differently, but your perception of him changes completely.
Hats off to all actors!
Just think about the TV shows ‘How do I look’ and ‘What not to wear’. Anyone who has ever watched any of these, realises that way you dress impacts on how people perceive you. We had lunch with friends who told us that they had been watching a show about ‘blind’ dating. The couple meet each other in pitch black darkness. They may get on like a house on fire, but once the lights go on, if they don’t like the look of the other person, they will not go on a date with them. This is the power of image and persona.
Persona is the archetype of the image you want to convey. It is the way you package yourself to the world outside.
It is the mask you wear.
Not everyone gets this right. Some people’s persona’s are a huge fail. I am sure you have a few of those in your personal circle of friends! Just think of some of the profile pictures on Facebook for example.
Why have a persona?
The persona is an essential tool that we require to interact on a social level. It is not really for you. It is for others. It allows others to place you appropriately. It is not just the clothes you wear, or outer appearance, it is your attitude, what you talk about ‘ it really is how people perceive you.
It is a real skill to develop an effective and appropriate persona.
If you think of people in the entertainment industry, you get a good idea of how the persona operates.
Lady Gaga and the huge effort she puts into developing and maintaining her persona. Politicians; in South Africa a good example of really well developed persona is Julius Malema. He knows his audience and acts accordingly. Barack Obama’s persona is almost too good to be true. What about Mandela’s persona?
I know someone who has an incredibly well developed persona. He is very successful; financially well off, well groomed, driven, passionate, etc. But I still don’t know exactly what he does! Whenever I try and ask leading questions to try to find out, he talks so much and is so smooth that he baffles me. All I know is that it is in finance, bit of training, lots of innovation, he is in the know. This is the power of an effective persona. You buy into the person, before you have any actual experience of their proficiency.
To understand your own persona better, you can ask yourself a few questions:
‘ Is your professional persona and your social persona the same or different?
‘ Do you have different persona’s for different people?
‘ Do you adapt your persona to different social situations?
‘ Did you make a conscious decision to construct your persona, or did it happen spontaneously?
‘ If you had to change your persona, what would you add or take away?
If you want to succeed at what you do, you need to develop your persona to reflect that which you want to be recognised for.
The problem with the persona
Usually you develop your persona when you enter the ‘real’ world so to speak. When you embark on your career, you soon realise that people in your industry dress a certain way, speak a certain way, have similar belief systems, etc. You then (consciously or unconsciously) base your persona on all of this.
But how long are you going to keep that persona for? When is it due for an upgrade?
We don’t realise that the persona is a mask that can be changed or swopped or broken.
The real problem is when you identify with your Persona.
You become the mask you wear.
This is a trap which is very difficult to escape from.
For purposes of an example, I would suggest a doctor. He is a doctor, he identifies with this and that is what he is. His friends, family, everyone relates to him as the doctor. But that is not who he is. The doctor is his persona.
Once he was a young man named Derrick, who became a doctor. Now he is just the doctor. Derrick has been forgotten, repressed, put aside.
You can probably immediately think of a few people that you know who have identified with their persona.
There is nothing else there.
They are that persona at work, home, with friends, even when they are alone.
This can cause big problems. The ‘real’ repressed person, shut down behind the mask, starts wreaking havoc. We all know of a public persona who suddenly behaves in a very inappropriate way ‘ get caught with their pants down so to speak. This is typical of the revenge of the repressed individual. Some crises will present itself in order to balance the personality of the individual. This crisis often causes the proverbial ‘midlife’ crises, which is an unconscious attempt of the individual to reconnect with their authentic selves. Unfortunately, because it is unconscious, it often does not result in a successful outcome.
The ultimate goal for the Jungian is to develop a consciously constructed and effective persona to act as a bridge between their authentic inner being and the outer world.
So the question is this:
Does your persona work you?
Until next time