Little Red Riding Hood, the Idyll and Emotional Hunger

Everyone loves Little Red Riding Hood, especially grandmother, because she is such a sweet girl. She gives her a red riding hood, which it now wears all the time and which gives her its name, and it always feels enveloped and protected. It lives with her mother in an idyll, but we know that idylls aren’t right because something is missing, because they are maintained through repression. They are supposed to be harmonious and make you happy, but they are one-sided, make you sick in the long run and sometimes addictive.

What is suppressed can be found in the forest, the space of unconscious feelings, the fairy tale symbol of the uncontrolled world of experience and danger.

Little Red Riding Hood should stay on the path, says the mother, and bring cake and wine to the sick, weak grandmother, but how is it supposed to do that if it has no balance inside and always has to be good in order to receive security and attention? The mother sends the child alone into the forest, what should happen, but real care would look different.

It does not recognize the wolf, who is up to evil, as a danger. As a girl who has to be nice and provide for others, it does not know anything aggressive. What it does not find within itself or is not allowed to feel comes towards it – unrecognized – from the outside. But what is the evil, aggressive and destructive that lurks in the wolf?

Greed and unbridled hunger, excess, hunger for addicted devour, just selfish. He seduces Little Red Riding Hood by pointing out possible sensual enjoyment and arouses its desire – combined with a half-joking devaluation – that it sees and hears nothing in the secluded forest and goes there as if to school. There are such beautiful flowers! Little Red Riding Hood jumps at it. And the next flower for her bouquet for grandmother (not for herself, of course not) still seems to be much nicer for Little Red Riding Hood, the budding desire has to be increased. It can finally indulge its desires and doesn’t have to be nice and well-behaved. The girl only stops when it can’t carry any more flowers.

The wolf first wants to eat or – more precisely – devour the grandmother and then Little Red Riding Hood. Why doesn’t he eat Little Red Riding Hood right away? This makes sense on a symbolic level, because the aggressive lust in him must first devour the grandmother and free itself from her, who is infinitely kind and good. Or does the wolf just want to start with the bigger object?
The wolf does not have time to chew, greed and addictive desire must be satisfied immediately. But emotional hunger cannot be satisfied in this way, it fills the stomach until nothing more can fit in.

It must be boring and lonely, always having to be good, the same as the long way to the grandmother, who needs refreshment. And the opposite is just as intense, the liberated lust.
From a psychological point of view, Little Red Riding Hood suffers from “unbalanced mental malnutrition” until the wolf appears. And this malnutrition is physically and mentally a so-called starvation-disease.
As Sigmund Freud wrote: Every indulgence is also a neglect. How could Little Red Riding Hood have learned to deal with lustful, selfish and aggressive parts?

The wolf also devours Little Red Riding Hood, who at her grandmother’s bed doesn’t realize that it has the big bad wolf in front of him. It is surprised and cannot believe that it is the grandmother who has such a big mouth. Maybe that’s how it is?
An ingenious twist of the story is, that the grandmother and the wolf are now one and the same, filling themselves with the vibrancy of others. Being nice is one thing, being alive is another. So far, the grandmother had no downsides. And so Little Red Riding Hood again does not recognize the danger.

Carl Spitzweg

After the wolf has eaten both of them, he sleeps soundly, unconscious and defenseless, so that the hunter, who stands for the good, caring father and who had wanted to look after the grandmother, can cut open his stomach and save them both. They are unharmed and Little Red Riding Hood becomes active, it fills the wolf’s belly with stones, dead material, so that it falls dead from the weight. It now vows never to stray from the path again.

Do we not have a doubt about that? But comforting is the conviction that one can fall back behind a conscious experience once made, but quickly remember it, find one’s own way again and preserve oneself.

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