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Bad Fathers, Wicked Stepmothers, Cannibalistic Witches, and Amorous Princes: A Psychoanalytic Study of Fairy Tales

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Title: Bad Fathers, Wicked Stepmothers, Cannibalistic Witches, and Amorous Princes
Subtitle: A Psychoanalytic Study of Fairy Tales
Subject Classification: Literature and Literary Criticism, Psychology 
BIC Classification: DS, JM
BISAC Classification: LIT022000, PSY026000, PSY045060
Binding: Hardback, ebook, pp.(to be confirmed)
Planned Publication date: April 2025
ISBN (Hardback): 978-1-80441-620-4
ISBN (ebook): 978-1-80441-621-1

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Psychoanalysis has been interested in fairy tales and myths from the very beginning.  In the interpretation of dreams, Freud felt he had found the royal road to the unconscious, and that he could find in myths and fairy tales the same eternal truths about the unconscious.  The myth of Oedipus could be considered the founding myth of psychoanalysis. 

Freud soon turned to the study of fairy tales, which he thought, in conjunction with German romanticism, could be equated with primary process and the unconscious.  The fairy tale was equated with the dream. This was a golden age of interest in fairy tales among the earlier Freudians. 

In addition, Freud formed an alliance with Jung, who had an independent interest in myth. Jung maintained the centrality of inherited psychic structures, which he called archetypes.  Consequently, the Jungians have remained much more interested in myth and fairy tale than the Freudians.

While fairy tales have remained popular in current culture in fictional retellings, movies, cartoons and opera, there has been no modern extended psychoanalytic interpretation of fairy tales.  Psychoanalytic theory has broadened considerably in the last decades to include ideas about gender, sexuality, race, social conflict, and disorganized personality than the traditional Freudian focus on Oedipal development.  This new book aims to add meaning that captures the deeper traumatic nature of human life. 

The author examines the multiple variations of myths and tales, both within a nationality, and across nationalities.  The literary version that has become canon was the one version of the tale that was written down.  By looking at the variations, we can get a better sense of the multiple meanings possible.  The other road to meaning is modern rewriting of the tales, which, when well done, adds to new layers to the tales.   The book also looks at examples of fantasy; a more modern novelistic treatment of fairy tale themes.


Author: Dr. Robert White is a Faculty Member at the Western New England Institute for Psychoanalysis, and Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, Connecticut, USA.


This title is currently being reviewed. Please check back for further updates in due course. 

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