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Huckel, H. (1957). One Day I'll Live in the Castle! Cinderella as a Case History. Am. Imago, 14(3):303-314.

(1957). American Imago, 14(3):303-314

One Day I'll Live in the Castle! Cinderella as a Case History

Helen Huckel

The content of this paper could be labeled “Life Versus Fairy Tale.”

Wishfulfillment versus reality expresses itself in fantasies, dreams, and in the neurotic and psychotic escapes from life, yet nowhere as undisguised and undiluted as in the fairy tale. Here the disguise is most alluring, painless, and direct. Roheim calls the fairy tale “magically solved neurosis.” (1).

Freud's paper, “The Three Caskets” (2) excellently illustrates this point. Life's most unacceptable part, its end, is clad in an enticing disguise and appears as something we desire and strive for. We frequently encounter three sisters in myth and fairy tale; according to Freud the youngest, most beautiful, most lovable of them, rightly analyzed, turns out to be a disguise of the eternal threat of mankind, death. Cinderella, Cordelia, and many others are chosen as the most attractive and desirable of their sisters. Yet, certain qualities common to all these youngest sisters mark them as just the opposite of what they seem to be. We know that dreams frequently employ this technique of disguise.

Ricklin, in “Wishfulfillment and Symbolism in Fairy Tales” (3), shows us how much the tale and the neurotic symptom overlap each other in their function of wishfulfillment. He reports the case of a psychotic girl who during many years passed her days stroking one of her hands with the other. This stereotyped movement was later understood as a symbol of shoe polishing.

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