Santa Claus Syndrome is the name given to the psychological effects of the ‘Father Christmas’ or ‘Santa Claus’ story. It is proposed that the story is more than just a nice festive story, it is a widespread untruth that all of society is ‘in on’. Once you discover the truth one is implicitly obligated to keep telling the lie to the younger children under the guise of not spoiling it for them. Even a cursory glance at the facts should cause alarm bells to ring in any thinking mind.
Father Christmas story in a nutshell
Father Christmas (Santa) is a part of the Christian feast of Christmas. Its the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, their alleged saviour of humanity who came to die on the cross for our ‘sins’ in the ultimate display of sacrifice. The Christians proposed that Saint Nicolas was a benevolent man who made toys for the poor children hundreds of years ago in mainland Europe.
The story poses a mythical paternal figure who flies across the sky on the night of December 24th/25th each year in a magic sleigh pulled by reindeer. He climbs down the chimney and leaves free gifts for children all over the world provided they have been ‘good’. The standard of good is not specified but it is generally understood to mean ‘doing as your parents say’, or being obedient. Santa somehow knows who has been ‘good’ and who has been ‘naughty’, and if you have been naughty you will go without. The gifts are all made, the story goes, in Santa’s toy factory located at the north pole.
The result is that children everywhere, even the poor, have a happy Christmas. It is widely held as a key part of the Christmas ‘magic’. It all seems innocent enough on the surface. But what is wrong with this cultural practice? What are the long-term psychological effects? Is it really as innocent as many still profess?
Psychological implications for a developing consciousness
When we take a critical look at this story and bear in mind that it is deeply entrenched in our culture, the implications start to look rather troubling. Here is a list of the major points of concern I have identified.
- The Father Christmas phenomenon is more than just a story, it is a lie promoted as truth – it is persistent deception, sometimes in the face of questioning for truth.
- It is widespread and cross-cultural – almost all adults are in on it. For a young child, it seems the whole world believes in Santa Claus even though everything about the story is impossible!
- It may fall just short of implicitly endorsing lying as being ‘OK’, but at the very least it programs young minds with the premise that lying is widespread, it is a part of our culture, it is what happens. This premise programmed into young minds fundamentally undermines the sanctity of truth and categorises lying as an inevitable part of the landscape of human behaviour. It is not!
- The story implicitly instils the premise that if one is good (i.e. compliant) you get rewarded by ‘getting free stuff’. This conclusion has knock-on effects. Firstly, it normalises acceptance of the unearned and associates it with ‘good’. Secondly, it is a form of behaviourism – basic animal-training technique rewarding desired behaviour (compliance). This tends to negate intrinsic self-motivation. Young people can be left predisposed towards going through life pleasing people rather than understanding reality directly and independently. Thirdly, it paves the way for a parasite class. Once the idea of receiving the unearned has become a programmed part of the operating system of the mind, any politician or welfare recipient can easily rationalise participation in the redistribution of expropriated funds (tax).
- Once you discover the lie you mustn’t spoil it for others, you must keep on lying to the children. Which ever way you look at this it cannot be healthy. I would suggest that a probable effect of this is leaving people predisposed to NOT question things and find out the truth. It could well explain why many people get angry at truth seekers who potentially ‘spill the beans’ or ‘spoil the party/story’ for others. How deeply sinister that one could be bothered by the facts of reality
- It programs the premise of believing in things that are demonstrably nonsense and counter to the facts of reality. Thus encouraging belief in the unprovable, the impossible. It therefore by definition instils acceptance of mystical ideas, i.e. the impossible. This can only disrupt a young mind’s fragile attempts to get to grips with what is real and what is not. I submit that the effects of this cannot be overestimated. The ability and the predisposition of a young mind to want to fully understand the nature of reality can only be hindered and compromised by cultural promulgation of an impossible ‘truth’.
- Lastly, it undermines the trust that children naturally place in their parents since eventually, all children find out they have been duped. Furthermore, it shows the seeds of disillusionment and paves the way for giving up on humanity. After all, people lie.
Are there any pros?
There are many supporters of the Santa Claus story, but I haven’t found any good rational evidence to support their claims. Some of them say that it supports and develops a child imagination, but there is no evidence of this. I would suggest that having a clear distinction between real life and fantasy is a much more useful starting point from which to dive into the imagined. Once a foot has been firmly established in reality, only then can we confidently makeup stuff and enjoy the fictional in contradistinction to what is known to be real. The imagination is given meaning only in contradistinction to the real world.
I have also heard it said that the process of challenging the credibility of the story and realising that it is a fairy tale somehow strengthens critical thinking skills. I consider this to be a bit of a stretch of the imagination. Parental encouragement to accept the impossible as true, and even going so far as to support the nonsensical claims with fake physical ‘evidence’ such as placing milk and cookies out for Santa’s reindeer, can only undermine any predisposition to ask questions and get to the rational truth.
What do you think?
Implications for society
We undoubtedly live in an era when the asking of awkward questions is not popular or widespread. We are encouraged to go with the flow, accept the official version of any event or issue. Many people are more than content to keep their heads down and ‘be good’, not draw attention to themselves or rock the boat. Could this be due to Santa Claus syndrome?
The vast majority hold as true that which the group holds to be true, and have insufficient psychological self-confidence to stand apart from the crowd and declare themselves correct in the face of a multitude. Could this be due to Santa Claus syndrome?
Few people dare to speak out about things like 9/11 or the London Bombings of 7/7. Not many dare to question the obvious nonsense of anthropogenic global warming and imminent climate catastrophe. There are not that many parents who will stick their necks out and refuse to accept compulsory vaccination for their children. Could this be due to Santa Claus syndrome?
There seems to be an unspoken attitude of acceptance towards institutional lies. Even when politicians are found out to be lying, or proven to have lied, it rarely seems to dent the public’s readiness to believe the next lie. Could this be due to Santa Claus syndrome?
Santa Claus Syndrome – Podcast Episode 72
Episode 72 of “Living outside the Matrix” features a discussion of the subject with the man who wrote the book about it. Ethan Indigo Smith is from California and has written several books including “A holiday Hazing – Santa Claus syndrome” in which he explores this concept fully and looks at the negative knock-on effects in our society.
Ethan can be contacted here:
What can we do?
We can demonstrate that we value truth by showing young people that truth is a paramount value for rational people. This means saying it like it really is. We can explain that Santa Claus is a lovely story and we can all enjoy it as such. As soon as young people question anything, give them the most truthful answer you can. This is a positive step towards building a new culture with reason and truth at its foundation. Only such a society with reason and truth held to be sacrosanct can ever lead to the achievement of peace, freedom and abundance.
Please feel free to join the conversation and leave a comment below. May you enjoy this ‘huddle down and re-group’ time at the end of the calendar year. And whatever festive celebration you subscribe to, may you enjoy it to the full.
Live the life you love