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Wyman, H.M. (1989). Parsing Through Customs. Essays by a Freudian Folklorist: By Alan Dundes. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1987. 216 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 58:676-679.

(1989). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 58:676-679

Parsing Through Customs. Essays by a Freudian Folklorist: By Alan Dundes. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1987. 216 pp.

Review by:
Herbert M. Wyman

Freud and his early co-workers were glad to find in the imagery and rituals of folklore convincing external confirmation of psychoanalytic interpretations of symbols and symptoms. They reciprocated by offering interpretations of myths and folktales based on psychoanalytic insights. Alan Dundes, in this well-written and entertaining book, reviews the history of the relationship between psychoanalytic and folkloric scholarship and brings us up to date on the subject with a collection of his state-of-the-art essays.

In his first chapter, "The Psychoanalytic Study of Folklore," Dundes offers a concise chronological review of the contributions of the major psychoanalytic writers in this field, from Freud to Bettelheim. As this informative review proceeds, it comes as somewhat of a jolt to the psychoanalytic reader to realize that the interest of psychoanalysts in folklore has rarely been reciprocated by the academic folklorists, who, for the most part, have continued to view psychoanalysis as outlandish or reductionistic. Dundes inculpates the analysts for failing to develop a research methodology for validating psychoanalytic interpretations of folklore. It is partly to remedy this situation that he offers these essays, in which he develops his own methodology.

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