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Lorand, S. (1935). Fairy Tales and Neurosis. Psychoanal Q., 4:234-243.

(1935). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 4:234-243

Fairy Tales and Neurosis

Sándor Lorand

In a paper entitled The Occurrence in Dreams of Material from Fairy Tales, written in 1913, Freud hints at the relation that exists between fairy tales and neuroses. In that paper, Freud tells of the dreams of a patient and of the fairy tales which were produced as associations to the dreams. He also suggests the relation between fairy tales and early childhood history: "It is not surprising to find that psychoanalysis confirms us in our recognition of how great an influence folk fairy tales have upon the mental life of our children. In some people a recollection of their favorite fairy tales takes the place of memories of their own childhood: they have made the fairy tales into screen memories."

It is obvious that fairy tales have a constructive value; they fulfil children's wishes: they have the same structure as dreams, and their content is really nothing more than the disguised realization of wishes. In addition to their appeal to children we cannot lose sight of the fact that fairy tales may also satisfy an inner need of adult story tellers, and that they may provide adults with an outlet for the tension resulting from conflicts.

It is difficult to take any definite stand concerning the possible harmful influence of fairy tales on the child. To say that fairy tales can be of use in education, that they help to broaden the imagination of the child, that they widen his mental horizon, that they have a play value, that they give the child an opportunity to solve his conflicts with his parents by identification—is all true. But as my case history will show, under certain circumstances the fairy tale may cause harm and produce a traumatic effect. It may become a permanent pattern for escape and may confuse the mental life of a child, leaving permanent injuries that inhibit future adjustment.

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