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Coleman, M.D. (1970). A Psychoanalytic Study of the Myth of Dionysus and Apollo. Two Variants of the Son-Mother Relationship: By Helene Deutsch. New York: International Universities Press, Inc., 1969. 101 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 39:628-630.

(1970). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 39:628-630

A Psychoanalytic Study of the Myth of Dionysus and Apollo. Two Variants of the Son-Mother Relationship: By Helene Deutsch. New York: International Universities Press, Inc., 1969. 101 pp.

Review by:
M. Donald Coleman

This monograph is an expanded version of the 1967 Freud Anniversary Lecture of the New York Psychoanalytic Society which originally concerned itself with bisexuality and immortality in the Dionysus myth. The subject matter has been expanded in order to contrast the maternal relationship of the two great mythic figures of Dionysus, as the son who saves, and Apollo, as the son who kills. Legends of both Apollo and Dionysus are most complex, consisting of numerous variations of scores of adventures, very few of which are known as usable information by even fairly cultivated people in our mythologically uninstructed age. I make a point of this to illustrate one of the primary and wholly unnecessary difficulties one will have with this book: too often the myth itself is communicated to the reader only tangentially in the course of drawing psychoanalytic deductions. This is a process that both confuses the reader and makes the deductions seem arbitrary.

Dr. Deutsch's approach to the myths is a unique one and would require the most careful deductions from mythic facts to psychoanalytic theory in order to be convincing. She has taken the mythic elements and treated them as though they were fragments of a patient's case history or, in some cases, his dreams. The legendary hero then becomes a real analysand and his story is connected by means of interpretations and reconstructions. This anthropomorphizing process has a tendency to reduce itself to the appearance of fictionalization unless a tight control is exercised by the author.

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