“It was thus rather the exacting nature of my aspirations than any particular degradation in my faults, that made me what I was, and, with even a deeper trench than in the majority of men, severed in me those provinces of good and ill which divide and compound man’s dual nature.”
Dr. Henry Jekyll, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
I always found the moral and psychological elements about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde intriguing. We all know the story of a mind-mannered yet misguided man of science who created an elixir that awakened his inner darkness. That darkness would then develop a mind and identity of its own. Then these two conflicting personas battle for control over the same body, causing all kinds of chaos in their wake.
The potion that Dr. Jekyll created serves as a symbol in psychology. When Jekyll drank it, it transformed him into Mr. Hyde. On one hand, the potion could serve as a symbol of what happens when a person is under the influence of drugs. When we are high on drugs, we do things that we otherwise would not do, which is similar to what happens when Jekyll drinks his potion and becomes Hyde. On the other hand, Jekyll’s potion could be the cause of chemically induced dissociative identity disorder. With dissociative identity disorder, we acquire at least two distinct personalities much like Jekyll and Hyde. It might be possible that Jekyll’s potion triggers an artificial equivalent to dissociative identity disorder. Overall, Jekyll’s potion serves as a reflection of certain aspects of human psychology.
From a psychological standpoint, Dr. Henry Jekyll symbolizes a human’s “normal” self. It would be a persona that serves as our public face and reflects our adherence to social conformity. The Dr. Jekyll persona is what humans would use to restrain themselves from performing deeds that would be considered evil or socially inappropriate. At the same time, despite being a relatively good and unassuming man, Dr. Jekyll is the kind of man who has hidden desires and urges that he maintains control over. If he loses control, it would undo his entire life’s work. This also highlights human psychology in that we keep our hidden urges under control in order to continue benefiting from our normal lifestyle. In this sense, the Jekyll personality is a person’s conscious self, which is the side that we are able to control.
For obvious reasons, Mr. Edward Hyde is the polar opposite of Dr. Jekyll. He is the incarnation of all of Jekyll’s dark thoughts, urges, desires, and impulses. The difference is that Hyde is completely and utterly liberated from any and all moral, human, and psychological inhibitions and boundaries. This gives him an all-consuming euphoric high of absolute freedom and an overwhelmingly pleasure to being alive and let off the leash. With no inhibitions to hold him back, Hyde is in a position where he can do whatever he wants and not care about the consequences. When we become Hyde, we are free from all social and mental restrictions and the world becomes our playground. Hyde represents the subconscious id of the human mind, which is the dark, animalistic, and instinctual section of our psyche. As the embodiment of the subconscious, Mr. Hyde is the part of our mind that we have no control over.
Overall, by understanding the psychological aspects of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, one is able to better understand the inner workings of the human mind. It is not just about the struggle between light and dark. It is also about comparing and contrasting the conscious and subconscious parts of the psyche.