Save our idols and the ability to dream

Our idols. They are identified with the myths of adolescents, unattainable figures that emanate a fascination capable of magnetizing the attention and imagination of personalities in formation, in which the process of individuation strongly requires the presence of models.

Sometimes they are considered dangerous figures, responsible for driving away their “followers” from reality, dazzling them with a world that does not exist. But this is not always the case and, especially today, it is not just teenagers who succumb to the charm of idols.

I was at a rock concert and I was struck by the heterogeneous multitude of people who raise their hands towards the stage. People wearing the same shirt, who gather by the thousands and have the same name on their mouth.

But why? In the name of what? What are they looking for? And what do they find?  A couple of hours of escape?

The simplest answer would seem this, but in reality many times there is more. Often on that stage there is someone who is “present” in our lives much longer than an evening and in a much more complex way than it might seem.

Let’s start with a premise and that is that it happened to everyone to try, at least once, that sense of dissatisfaction, of incompleteness, which makes us go in search of something that we miss.

It is at this moment that our attention is captured by the idol: he has everything we always wanted to have, that’s all we wanted to be.

More: he can represent something that we have not yet admitted, not even to ourselves, of wanting.

At this point, we have two ways of living the relationship with what we have decided to elect as our idol. The first is to suffer, more or less unconsciously, the fascination of what we consider impossible. The impossible is something that attracts us but which we think is beyond our reach, something to be admired but that remains confined to a reality different from ours, something that makes us dream, that brings color into our life but does not imply the assumption of a commitment, it does not require us to get involved, to expose ourselves in first person, to risk ourselves.  It offers us a virtual loophole, an imaginary escape from a reality that is not enough for us, but not a solution or the possibility of a breakthrough.

The other way in which we can experience the attraction for an idol is an admiration dictated by something we appreciate but, above all, we want to reach. For example, success is not an end in itself that strikes us, but the will and determination with which that person, who for this very reason we admire so much, has reached his goals. The idol, therefore, becomes functional to something else and ends up being loved not so much for what it really is but for what it comes to represent for each of us. Many of our idols would hardly recognize themselves in the image that we have built of them because each one, in his own way, adapts them to his needs and assigns them characteristics that respond to what he is looking for.

The greatness of an idol lies in knowing how to evoke a form of identification that gives rise to a constructive approach. In this case, the idol, with its example, becomes a point of reference, a model to follow, a stimulus to commit ourselves. As he was able to achieve his goals, so we can be able to reach our own. Idols become important when they nurture and encourage the ability to dream and believe in one’s dreams. We all need idols but all too often we don’t want to admit it in homage to a rationalist ideology that dries us up and imprisons us. Everyday life often tends to relegate us to pre-established, comfortable and safe tracks that give little freedom to imagination and emotions. The power of dreams is to give us the necessary push to overcome these psychological barriers, to believe that limits can be overcome.

About the Author

Annalisa Balestrieri – I obtained a master’s degree in Modern Literature with a psycho-pedagogical specialization at the State University of Milan (with a thesis discussion in “Maturity and immaturity in the experience of young adults”, subsequently published). I am interested in theoretical psychology, I published a book: “L’amore (I’m)perfetto” (Edizioni Psiconline), which deals with emotional dependencies, relationship with idols and reference models. I collaborate with trade magazines with the aim of promoting knowledge of the subject even among non-experts.


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