” The child intuitively comprehends , that although these stories are unreal , they are not untrue “.—–Bruno Bettleheim
I’ve been reading The Uses of Enchantment by Bruno Bettelheim , subtitled The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales . Bettelheim , a recognized child psychologist , was in Nazi concentration camps at Dachau and Buchenwald before he came to America . He taught at the university of Chicago .
I thought that the book might be interesting based on the subtitle, and it was light weight ( literal meaning ) , so I brought it to Poland . It had previously been sitting in my garage for who knows how long , collecting dust and , most likely , reflecting upon its sad existence among the histories , and road maps ,and old cartoon books and the odds and end thing-a-ma-jigs , dishes and pans , Christmas decorations , a few tools and extension cords , and the unworn clothes , and the eclectic collection of bric-a-brac and this-and-thats .
I don’t know if Ada had originally acquired this paperback or if I had . I’ll guess that Ada , the psychologist , did . That would be the better bet . She worked in Poland as a child psychologist , after all . And she married me , let’s not forget , thereby procuring herself a fairy tale existence forever and ever ***.
I like fairy tales , but , you know , I admittedly am a little bit intellectually lazy . I can’t see myself buying a heavy ( in the non-literal sense ) book like this , even at a library sale , or a garage sale , or in a thrift shop . That’s usually where we buy our books . Maybe I did , though . You’ll have to let me have that little fantasy that maybe I did . (Not knowing who Bettleheim was might have been a factor in that purchase , if indeed I made it , because I might well have otherwise attempted to avoid the intellectual challenge ) .
As it is , I’m still working my way through the book . I’m beginning a chapter called : TRANSCENDING INFANCY WITH THE HELP OF FANTASY . So far , not yet very far into the book , I am working through several of my childhood problems that , it seems , overtook me because I didn’t hear enough fairy tales in my young life . I’ll go for that theory ; it’s explained in well-reasoned detail in the text , and it makes sense . Too bad Bettleheim wasn’t my childhood psychologist ; I’d most likely have my wits about me now , in that case ; but we , I’m afraid , for one thing , never lived anywhere near Chicago .
So I have to go it alone now , reflect on my early life , and probably read those old fairy tales ( not many fairies in those stories , by the way ( pointed out by Dr. B ) , but lots of witches and woodcutters , and evil step-mothers , and frogs transforming into princes, and kings and castles , etc. ) if I can find collections of them .
Could it be that all of the copies have been discarded from libraries ? Maybe that’s what’s wrong with the world ? I’ll investigate and let you know later . That project may take some time , though , so maybe don’t hold your breath waiting for the answer .
I’ve got to work out my childhood problems first , and that goes way back , and that’s quite a big ball of wax to work out , especially on my own , so it may take some time for me to make significant progress . Ada , a trained psychologist , has so far been unable to cure me , and she’s had decades to work on it . I don’t know ! Maybe she’ll , at least , read me the fairy tales , if and when I find collections of them at the library or in the thrift shops .
I’m looking forward to the next chapter , too : FANTASY , RECOVERY , ESCAPE, and CONSOLATION . This Bruno Bettleheim seems to know his stuff ! It may already be too late to fix my childhood psychology , but I think , if anyone , this guy Bettleheim can help . A journey of a thousand steps ………………………and all that .
*** I hesitated putting this in here , due to the anticipated possible ridicule and scorn from certain (un-named ) sources , but , what the hell !