THE USES OF. ENCHANTMENT. The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales. Bruno. Bettelheim. MNM. VINTAGE BOOKS. A Division of Random House. Editorial Reviews. Review. “Bettelheim argues convincingly that fairy tales provide a unique The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales - site edition by Bruno Bettelheim. Download it once and read it on your. From The Uses of Enchantment by Bruno Bettelheim, Introduction: The Struggle For Meaning. If we hope to live not just from moment to moment, but in.
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Bruno Bettelheim has spent his lifetime working on behalf of children and their The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables. USES OF ENCHANTMENT by Bruno Bettelheim. EXCERPTS: "Fairy Tales and the Existential Predicament.” pp “The Child's Need for Magic.” pp If electronic transmission of reserve material is used for purposes in excess of what constitutes Bruno Bettelheim, The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and.
Some fairy tales conclude with the information that if perchance he has not died, the hero may still be alive. A patient is given a fairy tale to ruminate on, and internally reflect as to how the subtleties of its allegory translate to their own inner conflict.
The content of the chosen tale usually has nothing to do with the patient's external life, but much to do with his inner problems, which seems incomprehensible and hence unsolvable. The fairy tale clearly does not refer to the outer world, although it may begin realistically enough and have everyday features woven into it.
The unrealistic nature of these tales which narrow-minded rationalists object to is an important device, because it makes obvious that the fairy tales' concern is not useful information about the external world, but the inner processes taking place inside an individual.
Fairy tales can very effectively help a person to individuate into a well-adjusted personality, able to understand and cope with life. The telling of fairy tales to children as opposed to reading them offers the adult imparting the tale to judge the child's reactions to the narrative and the inner process of understanding taking place in the child, whether it is the resolution of oedipal conflicts, coping with personality integration, or a deeper perception of intimate morality and embracing one's own strengths and virtues.
However, encouraging children to read fairy tales usually encourages further interest in literature. The combination of nurturing a child's imagination through metaphorical fairy tales and more "realistic" forms of literature is emphasised as giving a beneficial psychological balance in the child's psychological development. The abstraction of characters in the story which represent facets of the personality which need to be integrated as one grows up, are useful tools in nurturing the establishment of the budding psyche.
In some ways fairy tales come from a similar place of the unconscious as dreams, but the cathartic resolution in fairy tales presents an easier decoding for the child. The fairy tale also has other important advantages when compared to private fantasies.
For one, whatever the content of a fairy tale - which may run parallel to a child's private fantasies whether these are oedipal, vengefully sadistic, or belittling of a parent- it can be openly talked about, because the child does not need to keep secret his feeling about what goes on in the fairy tale, or feel guilty about enjoying such thoughts.
Unfortunately there is no empirical study to back this point up, but I personally would stand by the author's position on this. My personal aversion towards Disney's ownership of fairy stories, and their socially engineered, stylised versions these folk tales, largely stems from a similar feeling on the danger of prescribing imagination rather than allowing it to grow more organically.
If all these elements were not present in a fairy tale, it would not be retold by generation after generation. A modern example would be George Lucas' archetypal "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away", a phrase combining the essence of a fairy tale beginning to Star Wars, fused with the mythical archetypes explored in the work of his mentor Joseph Campbell.
This fusion of fairy tale and myth could explain the franchise's popularity with adults and children alike, and its captivating hold over large portions of the modern Western psyche. The exploration of hierarchies, and the adherence to finding one's place in them temporarily, is in many tales shown to reap a great reward.
Usually the overlooked lowly protagonist ends up ascending the hierarchy after tests of character or virtue. This process frequently takes a threefold nature, echoing the integration process at work between id, superego and ego previously mentioned. This motif also consistently manifests with the protagonist being a third child, denoting the child hearing or reading the story feeling they are low in the familial pecking order, and overlooked.
It is often this overlooked child in fairy stories who outshines their interchangeable siblings who have not achieved full integration of their personality. Sibling rivalry is a frequent theme at play, and again is an important aspect of a fairy story which a child can find easy identification with.
The book contains many references to oedipal conflict, not always where a child sexually fantasises over parents, as many generalised misconceptions of Freudian psychoanalysis assert, but merely that between certain ages children fixate on their parents for support and nurture, and in order to grow into adults and become independent they have to let go of this dependent fixation.
The drive to reproduce oneself, however abstracted, is an overwhelming driver of the human condition. Bettelheim's apparent Freudian preoccupation with reading the resolution of oedipal conflicts into fairy tales in this book, at first seems like an infatuation; however, as one progresses towards the close of the book, the chapter on stories centring around the animal groom leads the reader to appreciate that the author's consistent references to a child needing to individuate by gaining emotional independence from the parents in order to find a mate and companion, seems to be a valid reading of the semiotic subtext of so many fairy tales.
As he states frequently, the success of the telling of these stories to children, as opposed to more direct attempts later in life through education, is their innovative use of allegory to prepare a child's integration of conscious and unconscious drives for the inevitable stages of the journey into adulthood, and highly probable progression into parenthood themselves.
The author highlights that a major aspect of the oedipal conflict in fairy tales, and the coming to terms with it, is on the part of the parent the fear of being replaced, and on the part of the child the inevitable desire to replace the parent. Many of these stories help to show a satisfactory integration of such a complex psychological problem within the parent child relationship as it progresses.
Fairy tales frequently reference transitional points in children's lives, such as adolescence, but as opposed to more reality forms of literature, enable the child ahead of time to have a more metaphorical expectation of what is to come later.
One could argue that a child raised with fairy tales as part of their adolescent experience, may be better prepared to deal with the emotional rollercoaster of growing up. Thusly, the author emphasises their importance to culture, as the aim of their telling is to help create adults who feel properly integrated with the reality of adult life without the tendency to slip uncontrollably into unbridled fantasy or even superstition at the first sign of adult conflict.
This is of course, a very prevalent problem in our current time, with the technocratic rise of emotional and intellectual reliance on the world of the virtual, and the increasing onslaught of infantilisation and vivification that is increasingly left in its wake. Folk-lore and children.
The uses of enchantment : the meaning and importance of fairy tales
Many people also contributed to the writing of this book. It was my mother who opened to me the magic world of fairy tales; without her influence this book would not have been written. In writing it, I received helpful suggestions from friends who took a kind interest in my efforts. Joyce Jack edited the manuscript; it is thanks to her patient and extremely sensitive efforts that it has assumed its present form.
I was fortunate to find in Robert Gottlieb the rare publisher who combines finely perceptive and therefore most encouraging understanding with the sound critical attitude which makes him the most desirable final editor an author could wish for. Last, but certainly not least, I wish to acknowledge gratefully the generous support of the Spencer Foundation, which made it possible for me to write this book.
The sympathetic understanding and the friendship of its president, H. Thomas James, provided much-appreciated encouragement for my undertaking. It is well known how many have lost the will to live, and have stopped trying, because such meaning has evaded them. And this achievement is the end result of a long development: at each age we seek, and must be able to find, some modicum of meaning congruent with how our minds and understanding have already developed.
Today, as in times past, the most important and also the most difficult task in raising a child is helping him to find meaning in life. Many growth experiences are needed to achieve this. The child, as he develops, must learn step by step to understand himself better; with this he becomes more able to understand others, and eventually can relate to them in ways which are mutually satisfying and meaningful. To find deeper meaning, one must become able to transcend the narrow confines of a self-centered existence and believe that one will make a significant contribution to life—if not right now, then at some future time.
This feeling is necessary if a person is to be satisfied with himself and with what he is doing. Our positive feelings give us the strength to develop our rationality; only hope for the future can sustain us in the adversities we unavoidably encounter.
As an educator and therapist of severely disturbed children, my main task was to restore meaning to their lives. This work made it obvious to me that if children were reared so that life was meaningful to them, they would not need special help.
The Uses of Enchantment
Regarding this task, nothing is more important than the impact of parents and others who take care of the child; second in importance is our cultural heritage, when transmitted to the child in the right manner. When children are young, it is literature that carries such information best. The preprimers and primers from which he is taught to read in school are designed to teach the necessary skills, irrespective of meaning.
But most of these books are so shallow in substance that little of significance can be gained from them. We all tend to assess the future merits of an activity on the basis of what it offers now. But this is especially true for the child, who, much more than the adult, lives in the present and, although he has anxieties about his future, has only the vaguest notions of what it may require or be like.
But to enrich his life, it must stimulate his imagination; help him to develop his intellect and to clarify his emotions; be attuned to his anxieties and aspirations; give full recognition to his difficulties, while at the same time suggesting solutions to the problems which perturb him. SlideShare Explore Search You. Submit Search. Successfully reported this slideshow. We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.
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The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales. Upcoming SlideShare. Like this presentation? Why not share! An annual anal Embed Size px. Start on.Like many other modern psychological insights, this was anticipated long ago by poets. Modern stories written for young children mainly avoid these existential problems, although they are crucial issues for all of us.
Today, as in times past, the most important and also the most difficult task in raising a child is helping him to find meaning in life. In child or adult, the unconscious is a powerful determinant of behavior. The book contains many references to oedipal conflict, not always where a child sexually fantasises over parents, as many generalised misconceptions of Freudian psychoanalysis assert, but merely that between certain ages children fixate on their parents for support and nurture, and in order to grow into adults and become independent they have to let go of this dependent fixation.
The fairy tale conveys from its inception, throughout its plot, and by its ending that what we are told about are not tangible facts or real persons or places. It is often this overlooked child in fairy stories who outshines their interchangeable siblings who have not achieved full integration of their personality.
The child makes such identifications all on his own, and the inner and outer struggles of the hero imprint morality on him.
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