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Róheim, G. (1922). Psycho-Analysis and the Folk-Tale—A Rejoinder to a Recent Critic. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 3:180-186.

(1922). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 3:180-186

Psycho-Analysis and the Folk-Tale—A Rejoinder to a Recent Critic

G. Róheim

An interesting paper by Mr.F.C.Bartlett in one of the recent numbers of Folk-Lore deals with the claims of psychology in general to contain the key that will unlock the difficult and much discussed problem of the 'folk-tale' or 'Märchen'. He tells us that the psychological theories relating to the folk-tale have received new impetus from Freud's study of dreams. However, he wishes to criticise all attempts to interpret the folk-tale as an 'individual expression' and devotes his chief attention to those who apply Freud's views on dreams to the mechanisms determining the growth of the popular tale, particularly Rank (The Myth of the Birth of the Hero) and Riklin (Wish-Fulfilment and Symbolism in Fairy Tales).

He begins his criticism by telling us that 'wish-fulfilment' is not an acceptable explanation from the point of view of scientific psychology. For if a wish means only a 'directed tendency' the explanation is far too general, since it refers to an element which is present in all modes of human behaviour. If however something more definite is to be understood by wish-fulfilment, for instance the memory-image left by former satisfactions of certain bodily cravings, then these are themselves 'the result of incoming experience acquired in the course of the mental life and so themselves call for explanation by reference to environment.'


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