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Sterba, R. (1964). Comment on Dr Hacker's Paper. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 45:444-445.

(1964). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 45:444-445

Comment on Dr Hacker's Paper

Richard Sterba

Hacker's paper is essentially a re-evaluation of the psychological formation which we call myth. I will not attempt to examine the different definitions of the term. The essence of what we call a myth is well given by Webster's dictionary definition, and my remarks will deal with myth as 'a story, the origin of which is forgotten, that ostensibly relates historical events, which are usually of such character as to serve to explain some practice, belief, institution, or natural phenomenon.'

As Hacker points out, the first approach to myth which analysis attempted, was undertaken in order to prove the ubiquitous validity of analytic interpretation. This undertaking culminated in Rank's famous work Das Inzestmotiv in Dichtung und Sage ('The Incest Motif in Poetry and Myth'). Evaluating this approach Hacker makes the following statement: 'The classical psycho-analytic attitude, regularly discovering the projective bias of myth, was critical, rationalistic, iconoclastic, i.e. mythoclastic.' I cannot agree with this statement. The so-called classical analytic approach investigated to what extent and in what way unconscious contents and primary process-modes of functioning participate in the formation and transformation of myths. This typical analytic approach has no mythoclastic intentions. When it was discovered that the fundamental motivations, drives, and fears express themselves in myths, in a similar fashion to their expression in dreams, myths became important to psycho-analytic studies.

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