Thursday, August 2, 2012

Hans Dieckmann - Fairytales in Analysis

"Such a favourite fairy-tale could be found in the unconscious of most of the patients I treated over a long period. Not all of them have been common fairy-tales. There were a lot of not so well-known ones from Andersen, Hauff, Brentano and others, and, also, though seldom, stories from modern children's books like Winnie-the-Pooh, Alice in Wonderland, etc. In most cases this material was more or less repressed in the unconscious.

If you ask the patient during the first session you usually get one of the common traditional fairy-tales remembered at that moment, such as Cinderella, Snow-White and the Seven Dwarfs, or Little Red Riding Hood, as the investigations of Wittgenstein (1955) have shown. The really individual favourite fairy-tale will emerge from the unconscious for the first time after some regression into the early childhood has taken place. Sometimes a dream symbol will give the first hint of it, sometimes the associations of the patient during a certain period of childhood. To my own astonishment this material was very individualistic. Among the 50 patients the same tales have been found only two or three times.

It is hardly surprising that one should find, at least in most European patients, a favourite fairy-tale from childhood. As a rule, such tales are among the earliest cultural products taken up by the human soul. In this way the typical imaginings of the culture can be assimilated and the structures of the archetype per se filled out with forms and pictures. On the other hand the main fairy-tale period of childhood is also the time when fundamental neurotic patterns are formed and the first neurotic symptoms come into existence. So we may have here a very important point: that the fairy-tale can tell us something about the basic structure and dynamics of the individual neurosis. It may also show us the organization of ideas and experiences of archetypal forms (Dieckmann, 1967). The partial or total identification of the ego with an archetypal image as the nuclear charge of a complex is one of the principal criteria of neurosis.

On the other hand the healthy ego-complex will only have such identifications in a passing way (Jacobi, 1942). So it is reasonable that we should also find such fixed identifications if the favourite fairy-tales of childhood return to consciousness during the course of analytical treatment. In practice one finds in this way many comparisons between the themes or symbols of the fairy-tale and the symptoms of neurosis.
" (pp. 22-23)

"It seems to me that a real understanding on the symbolic level of the solution of the problem in the fairy-tale is of great importance also for the analyst. All fairy-tales include individuation processes as is shown by many authors (v. Franz, v. Beit, Jaffé, Dieckmann, Laiblin and others) and they show in a symbolic form different ways of psychic growth and progress. So it may be possible to translate them in a behaviouristic way and to understand them on the objective level. This will lead to complications, because in this case the analyst will unconsciously accept the identification of the patient's ego with the image of the archetype." (p. 28)

"In a large number of patients favourite fairy-tales arise from the unconscious in connection with dreams, fantasies or associations. The main fairy-tale time of childhood is the time in which fundamental neurotic patterns are laid down and the first neurotic symptoms appear. There is a strong connection between these fairy-tales and the symptoms of the later neurosis, the structure of the personality and the patterns of behaviour. Such correlations have been investigated in 50 patients. Examples are presented in this paper.

Fairy-tales are among the earliest cultural products absorbed by the human soul. In this way the typical images of the culture can be assimilated and the structure of the archetype per se filled out with forms and pictures. Therefore the fairy-tale can be used as a diagnostic tool for the determination of the neurotic archetypal fixation.

The material shows the therapeutic value of bringing these images into consciousness and working them through at a symbolic level.
" (p. 29)

Hans Dieckmann (1971). The Favourite Fairy-Tale of Childhood. Journal of Analytical Psychology, Vol. 16, pp. 18-30

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