What is Pygmalion definition/concept

The term Pygmalion has a direct relationship with classical mythology, especially with the ability of myths to provide suggestive ideas. The mythical account of Pygmalion has become a universal cultural reference that is present in literature, cinema and psychology .

The origin of the myth

According to Greek mythology Pygmalion was a king of the island of Cyprus and one of his passions was sculpture. Despite his power, the king was a sad and lonely person and this led him to carve the statue of a perfect woman. As he was sculpting, the statue became marvelous with the result and, thus, after finishing the work, he was deeply enchanted by it and named it Galatea.

The sculptor king had created an ideal woman, but he could not truly love her. Impossible love led Pygmalion to ask the gods for help . The goddess Aphrodite was moved by the artist’s frustration and caused the statue‘s marble to transform into a flesh-and-blood woman. The sculptor fulfilled his dream and from the humanized union of Galatea with Pygmalion the island of Papos was born.

The legend of the sculptor in love with a statue was collected by the Roman poet Ovid, who in his work “Metamorphoses” recovered the story of Pygmalion.

What does it mean to be a Pygmalion?

If a person has a weakness, it is often said that he has an “Achilles Heel”. If a man is very attached to his mother he is likely to have an “Oedipus Complex“. And by claiming that a man is a Pygmalion, what does that mean? It is often said that he is a generally cultured man, who educates a woman of humble origins and little cultured until transforming her into a refined person.

Whoever acts in this way is known as a Pygmalion and his aspiration is to emulate the sculptor of mythology, that is, to create a model of a woman according to his ideal of perfection. In this sense, there are numerous stories that have been recreated by fiction, among which we highlight the movie “My Fair Lady” from 1964, in which the female character (a humble florist represented by actress Audrey Hepburn) is transformed into a high society lady with exquisite customs, thanks to the teachings of his Pygmalion.

In the field of Psychology

In psychology  there is the so-called “Pygmalion Effect”. This effect happens when a person, usually an educator, is able to provide greater self-esteem in another individual .

in the field of sexuality

Agalmatophilia is a paraphilia that is inspired by the mythical account of Pygmalion. Thus, people who fall in love with or are sexually attracted to inflatable statues or dolls suffer from agalmatophilia, a sexual inclination based on the fantasy of a perfect being.

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