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Brink, L. (1915). The Myth of the Birth of the Hero. A Psychological Interpretation of Mythology. By Dr. O. Rank. Translated by Drs. F. Robbins and Smith Ely Jelliffe. Nervous and Mental Disease Monograph Series, No. 18. New York.. Psychoanal. Rev., 2(3):354-355.

(1915). Psychoanalytic Review, 2(3):354-355

Book Reviews

The Myth of the Birth of the Hero. A Psychological Interpretation of Mythology. By Dr. O. Rank. Translated by Drs. F. Robbins and Smith Ely Jelliffe. Nervous and Mental Disease Monograph Series, No. 18. New York.

Review by:
L. Brink

This profound study goes far beyond the earlier theories of mythology in that it penetrates into the primary origin of myths and the reasons for the details which prevail in all forms of the same myth. The psychoanalytic insight of the author is shared by the translators, who are thus sympathetically qualified to present this valuable study to English readers.

Taking one series of myths, the myths of the birth of the hero, Rank shows how these have been created from the phantasy of the people in the infancy of the race, a phantasy corresponding to that of the childhood of the individual. It is through the study of the latter, revealed particularly through the Freudian investigations into the psychic life of neurotics, who still dwell in the infantile realm, that the origin of these myths is discovered.

Having recounted a number of these myths, of the birth of Sargon, of Moses, of Kyros, of Jesus and of others, Rank sums up the points of likeness, which form a general plan for all the myths, varying somewhat in individual myths, according as the original phantasy is amplified and extended or brought back in its development toward the actual, original fact.

The key to the understanding of the myth lies in the paranoiac mechanisms of dissociation and projection, which are employed in the elaboration of the myth. The subject matter is that grown familiar through Freud's investigations. The hero is the childish ego. The myth is the individual phantasy become national, the romance is that known as the Family Romance of the Neurotic. There is first the childish exaltation of the parents, then, with enlarging experience, critcism of them with repudiation in favor of exalted parentage. The revolt against the parents seeks its justification in the story of the hero and forms the motive for the myth. A feeling of antagonism, aroused by fancied neglect or perhaps by punishment, is projected upon the father, who in the myth repudiates and exposes the child.

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