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Greenson, R.R. (1943). The Dragon and the Hero: Géza Róheim. Amer. Imago, I, 1940, No. 2, pp. 40–69; No. 3, pp. 61–94.. Psychoanal Q., 12:600.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: The Dragon and the Hero: Géza Róheim. Amer. Imago, I, 1940, No. 2, pp. 40–69; No. 3, pp. 61–94.

(1943). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 12:600

The Dragon and the Hero: Géza Róheim. Amer. Imago, I, 1940, No. 2, pp. 40–69; No. 3, pp. 61–94.

Ralph R. Greenson

It is impossible to condense Róheim's paper. Some sixty pages in length, crammed with hundreds of illustrations, references and data gathered from every conceivable source, it represents a prodigious piece of work. The reader is rather overwhelmed by the weight of the material, which somewhat clouds the clarity of Róheim's deductions.

Mankind has always repeated the same myths, that is, the basic themes have remained fairly constant while their elaboration has undergone many transformations. The original themes find their source in unconscious wishes and fears, while the superstructure undergoes distortions similar to dream distortions, i.e., projection, displacement, symbolism. Furthermore, the myth matures with time and eventually progresses from pregenital to genital levels.

The Dragon represents the mother or father or the combined parent, i.e., the primal scene. The Hero and the Dragon is derived from the situation of the hungry child who is frustrated by its mother. The frustrated infant reacts with body destruction fantasies which are then projected onto the mother, who becomes the devouring monster. In the Hero In the Dragon myths it is not the child who wishes to kill the monster by descending into the belly, but it is the monster who swallows the children. Instead of the child who wishes to cut out all his rivals from the mother's body, the Hero appears as a life-giver who rescues those previously killed by the Dragon.

The Gorgon or Medusa is a more genitalized representative of the Dragon. Here body destruction fears are replaced by castration fears. The Gorgon's head is a vagina which if touched causes petrifaction, i.e., erection. The Gorgon and Sphinx may represent the primal scene: therefore they are also connected with the Evil Eye myths.

Róheim was able to obtain these interesting analytic data from the tremendous amount of material he studied. It is regrettable that poor organization should so limit its value.

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Article Citation

Greenson, R.R. (1943). The Dragon and the Hero. Psychoanal. Q., 12:600

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