Podcast Review: Betts on Analytic Psychology #16 – More on Fairy Tales

The reviewed podcast is the 16th in John Betts series on analytic psychology and freely available here. In this episode, Betts introduces us to Moreau’s guidelines for analysing fairy tales. Moreau is a retired Jungian analyst. He tells us that fairy tales can be considered to represent the psyche and that individual characters relate to elements of the psyche. Furthermore we should monitor our feelings as we read the fairy story and take note of strong feelings as they tell us something special about our relationship with the structure of the fairy tale. So each fairy tale can be considered a model of the psyche and this can be masculine or feminine. He goes further and looks at typology which he covered in earlier episodes in more detail. Thus the reader’s typology will shape their response to the fairy tale in a number of ways including their interpreting ability when using their inferior or superior functions. He then goes on to analyse a fairy tale to demonstrate the principles above. He also describe a number of techniques to help with the analytical process. The discussion here doesn’t necessarily generalise to other types of fiction as the fairy tale is supposed to efficiently represent the unconsiousness thus giving us associated insights. I was interested in how we could know that a fairy tale does indeed portray the unconsciousness. It can be argued that a number of fairy tales are transmitted from one generation to another within the local culture and that with small changes here and there, are transformed into something which has a greater appeal to the audience. If this argument holds, then it could be said that this ‘greater appeal’ may mean ‘tapping into the unconsciouness’. What is quite interesting here is that if successful fairy tales can be created de novo and if they need to relate to the unconciousness, then successful authors have a very special ability in this regards. However ultimately we cannot move any further with the relationship between fairy tales and unconsciousness until we have a sufficient evidence base. A tight definition of the unconsciouness together with a qualitative analysis of sample tales are needed using outcome measures derived from the definition. While this might seem a little far fetched, the hypothetical relationship between the unconsciousness and the fairy story is not only important but also quite fascinating. Jung’s implication of a shared unconsciousness in the form of the archetype suggests a highly conserved biological underpinning. Our awe can be easily stirred by saying that a fairy tale casually fashioned and if successful, virally transmitted within the local culture and resonating with the ‘neurobiology’ of the audience has ultimately taken over a billion years of evolution to come into existence and satisfy the subtle and as yet undelineated rules that we adhere to.


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The comments made here represent the opinions of the author and do not represent the profession or any body/organisation. The comments made here are not meant as a source of medical advice and those seeking medical advice are advised to consult with their own doctor. The author is not responsible for the contents of any external sites that are linked to in this blog.


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