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Tarachow, S. (1948). 'The Bear in the Haunted Mill.': Geza Roheim. The American Imago, 1948, Vol. 5, No. 1, pp. 70–82.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 29:63.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: 'The Bear in the Haunted Mill.': Geza Roheim. The American Imago, 1948, Vol. 5, No. 1, pp. 70–82.

(1948). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 29:63

'The Bear in the Haunted Mill.': Geza Roheim. The American Imago, 1948, Vol. 5, No. 1, pp. 70–82.

Sidney Tarachow

The author discusses various European (mostly Hungarian) folk tales which are attempts to solve castration fear provoked by Oedipal rivalries and by the sight of the female genitals. Because of the well-known sexual symbolism of the mill, grinding mills are haunted by bears or other dangerous figures. Generally the hero vanquishes a bear or other dangerous creature by clamping a vice on to some extremity (hand, nose) of the creature and later by threatening the villain with the vagina of the woman. The sight of the vagina is sufficient to send the haunting animals fleeing in terror.

The hero who overcomes the bear frequently gets the miller's daughter as a reward. Often the bear or demon wants to learn to play the hero's violin (playing the violin equals masturbation). These fairy tales are similar to certain nightmares in which fear of the vagina (fear of castration) is projected on to a bear. In such a solution the hero gets the girl but the bear flees in panic. The Oedipal rivalry for the mother is sometimes manifest and father and son (demon and hero) try to castrate one another. One of the ways in which the hero overcomes his fear of masturbation with its unconscious incestuous meaning is to teach the demon to play the violin. Here again, masturbation anxiety is relieved by projection on to the father figure.

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Article Citation

Tarachow, S. (1948). 'The Bear in the Haunted Mill.'. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 29:63

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