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Greenstadt, W.M. (1982). Heracles: An Heroic Figure of the Rapprochement Crisis. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 9:485-487.

(1982). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 9:485-487

Heracles: An Heroic Figure of the Rapprochement Crisis

William M. Greenstadt


Mr Samuels (Vol. 9: 357) may confidently rest assured that his comments have not been taken by me as 'churlish'—a word, I am informed, which connotes a most negative, carping, and difficult attitude of mind. Rather, he has generously afforded me the impetus to respond, and thereby, I hope, to further clarify some of the underlying premises I used in writing my paper.

I must own that I find it difficult to understand much less agree with the assertion that it is 'debatable' to believe that myths undergo a developmental process. The 'development' I had in mind is confined to the changes which a myth or mythic personage pass through over time and by displacement from one culture or geographic location to another. These changes seem not only to occur in the sphere of content, but also in the character of the mythic figures themselves. I assume that there exists some underlying motif in each myth which admits of variation as it is translated into the ritual and literature of a culture. The motif is sufficiently universal in appeal and flexible or ambiguous in meaning to allow for multiple representations, variations in emphasis, etc. This notion underlies the justification of interpreting myths from a psychological angle, the process being roughly to reverse the direction from the particular instances to the general underlying motif. It is apparent that this process is identical to that advanced by Freud (1900) for dream interpretation. Indeed, I believe that the assumption of reversibility is indispensable for any type of interpretive activity.

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