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Journal Article

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The Psychoanalytic Review





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Psychoanalysis and folklore have been uneasy bedfellows. Any psychoanalytic interpretation of folktales makes folklorists twist and turn. Their reactions have ranged from ambivalent acceptance to unequivocal rejection. Psychoanalysts, on the other hand, are ever too ready to consider such a reaction as denial, or at least avoidance of the "true" meaning of fairy tales. As a psychoanalyst, Bruno Bettelheim could have bridged between the two disciplines with his book The Uses of Enchantment (1976). His valuation of orality, his erudite familiarity with the classical sources of European folktales, and his sheer love for the fairy tale, qualified him for mediating the two disciplines. Surely, Bettelheim did not conceive of himself as a broker between two intellectual fields. However, by writing such a book this role was inevitably thrust upon him. The assessment of his success or failure requires, first, the examination of the theoretical, methodological, and attitudinal conflicts between folklore and psychoanalysis. Secondly, there is a need to clarify the charges of plagiarism that were brought against Bettelheim, and finally a need to evaluate his methodological contribution to the psychoanalytic interpretation of the fairy tale.

Copyright/Permission Statement

"Bettelheim Among the Folklorists," Dan Ben-Amos in The Psychoanalytic Review. © 1994 Guilford Press. Reprinted with permission of The Guilford Press.



Date Posted: 22 September 2017

This document has been peer reviewed.