Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Not Based On A True Story!

I've just been re-reading the fabulous (quite literally) "The Uses Of Enchantment" by Bruno Bettelheim. He was a child psychologist who believed that fairy tales (and myths, and legends etc) were a way for children to understand early traumas, or to describe their fears and view of their lives. His theory, boiled down, was: everybody has a favourite story, and the substance of the story can be a key to how the person views their own life and situation. Little Red Riding Hood appeals to women who feel they're in danger from real-life "wolves", Cinderella to those who know deep down that a handsome prince will see through their rags and recognise them for the princess they are, Jack The Giant-Killer to men who feel powerless before a bullying father, an aggessive boss, or any situation they feel dwarfed by. Etcetera, etcetera (as Yul Brynner so rightly said). When you start thinking about it, you have one too. It may not be a fairy tale, it may be a film plot ("Oh my GOD we're just like Harry and Sally"). There's something very comforting about this theory though - it makes me feel not only that millions of other people have similar hang-ups to ones' own, but also that people were having the same hang-ups hundreds of years ago. Mine is "Sir Gawain and the Loathly Lady" - which answers the question "What do women want?" ...

18 comments:

Steve said...

I'm a complete sucker for all things Robin Hood... does this mean I want to male bond with lots of smelly thugs in the forest who'll respect me so much that they won't lay a hand on the solitary maid that lives with us just because she is mine? Or do I just like the taste of illegal venison?

I also love transformation films - ugly ducklings to swans, that type of thing. Hmm. That says it all really.

Thanks for dropping by the old blogstead too - I'll be sure to come back to yours!

lucyfishwife said...

Wow, paging Dr Freud! You want to fight injustice and redress the imbalances of social inequality. And you secretly fancy yourself in green tights.

mantua maker said...

Here's a another case for Dr Freud: after a hard day on campus, Prof MM will come home and watch those repeats of The Professionals on ITV4. He says it cheers him up and reminds him of when he was in his prime (oh god remember the sheepskin carcoat he wore at our wedding?). Of course I never watched The Ps when it was first on (wasn't allowed ITV in those days but do remember Lucyfishwife drawing pictures of Bodie and Doyle on the blackboard - as molluscs) so find this fantasy on his part very bemusing. But it's hilarious - the fashions, the cars, the "sophisticated" technology, the fact that they seem to be saving the country but never need backup...

lucyfishwife said...

In Prof MM's case I think it's a nostalgia thing rather than a childhood imprint thing.. I still like watching "Blake's 7" to my shame... Oh the sheepskin carcoat. Tell him he looks like Great Uncle Bulgaria.

Rol said...

Mine would be Peter Parker, Spider-Man. Misunderstood loser struggles to do the right thing. I just never got the spider powers.

Steve said...

I have to admit I do look very good in green...

lucyfishwife said...

Rol - Ah but do you have journalist-level photography skills to offset your genial loser persona (when out of Spidey costume)?

Steve - you're obviously not a redhead then.

Reluctant Blogger said...

Well, the story I always feel drawn to and I have written so many parodies of it in my time (about workplaces and bosses and things) is The Emperor's New Clothes. I have no idea why but if my son asks me to choose a story from his compendium of bedtime stories I will always choose that one.

In terms of films I am always drawn to Prison films - usually ones involving escape but not always, I like the Shawshank Redemption too. I can watch them over and over and over and over again without any loss of enjoyment whatsoever which is weird because I do not usually like films without women in them!

What a thought-provoking post that was. I'd never thought of all that before.

lucyfishwife said...

Would it be fair to say that you harbour a deep cynicism for all things told to you by People On High?
I'm with you on the Shawshank Redemption - I love Tim Robbins. And indeed Stephen King!

Rol said...

Actually, at risk of coming across as both a geek AND a pedant... Parker's a pretty lousy photographer. He manages to get shots no other photographer could manage purely by being constantly in the thick of the action - but he's often criticised for his lack of skill or artistry.

So I'd be fine then.

lucyfishwife said...

...and is admirably self-deprecating with it...

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Being so sensitive I can only assume I must be 'a real princess'!

So the Princess & The Pea would seem to have chosen me as the most apt fairy tale echo of my life (except I can't quite live like a princess alas and the handsome prince has taken his time coming).

Though of course we weren't allowed 'silly nonsense' when I was little, so I was largely unaware of fairy tales, though I enjoyed Robin Hood.

A thought-provoking posting - took me a couple of days to think up a reply!

mantua maker said...

In my case it's *whisper*Maria von Trapp*whisper*, it goes very deep, to do with making clothes out of old curtains. We did go to Salzburg a few years ago but couldn't persuade the Prof. to go on the Sound of Music tour - instead did the Berchtesgarten tour, not nearly as much fun.

lucyfishwife said...

Laura - I always think the Princess and the Pea is more about gracefully meeting the unrealistic expectations other people have of you! But I might be wrong. The Robin Hood thing goes deep with a lot of people! Are we a nation of angry socialists? Or do we just love the Lincoln Green? And you a redhead too...
Mantypoos - Would have had a softer spot for MVT if she wasn't Julie Andrews.. although I love Christopher Plummer (another silver fox)!

mantua maker said...

Thinking deeper about MVT maybe it's to do with my search for a replacement mother figure. And in the Prof. I've certainly found a grumpy Plummeresque fox (or that's what he'd like to think).

lucyfishwife said...

OK I'm confused now - are YOU Maria? Or do you wish for a Maria instead of The Baroness? Darn your bizarrely illogical archetyping.

mantua maker said...

I am Maria and I need a Mother Superior in my life to help me climb those mountains...

Reluctant Blogger said...

haha yeah I think that would be very true of me.