Did you know? The first written record of Cinderella and her jealous sisters appear in a Chinese manuscript three thousand years ago. Why those stories are so old that we could believe them obsolete, unsuited to our times, we are they still talking much? Because they reflect our fundamental psychic structures. In the form of symbolic images, they reflect the problems which we have faced from childhood, and affect both the relationships within the family (sibling rivalry, incest …) and personal issues (renunciation of child dependency, assertiveness, awareness of their own values, exceeding the oedipal conflict …). Far from the mind of a mere “children’s literature” these stories, by staging fantasies, bring in their own way solutions to these problems. Therefore, addressing me directly to the emerging of the child, they play an important role in the construction of the personality.
This is because it not only sent messages to our conscious but also our unconscious, Snow White, the Three Little Pigs and Little Thumb helped us integrate the meaning of good and evil, stimulate our imagination, develop our intelligence, and above all to see in our emotions clearer.
The richness of the symbolic contents of the stories is such that they naturally lend themselves to analysis and interpretation. Freudian psychoanalysts show what kind of unconscious material is underlying in each of these stories. That Jack plants a beanstalk, rises on its stem and kills a giant to seize the treasure represents the phallic affirmation of the teenager who “kills his father” to impose his own manhood. Jungian psychoanalysts rather see a story of initiation, the image of our need to access higher levels of consciousness. Yet one does not exclude the other! Proof is: just as in the countless stories where the young hero outsmarts the giant, Jack shows children that using his intelligence and his pragmatism; it is possible to get out of the difficulties of life. Quite simply.
Universality and symbolic fairy tales allow them to be read, reread, and told again and again, at any age. That is why they are increasingly used in psychological therapy and personal development: storytelling workshops are multiplying, offering various approaches to awaken our “inner child” to develop our imagination and help us transform.
Understanding our mythical shares
Two centuries after the birth of the Danish storyteller, Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales are used in some personal development. These methods use three key characters present in the myths of the world.
King represents our desire to change our discernment.
The hero embodies action, the implementation of change.
The fairy is our share of magic. She discovers opportunities and causes situations for change.
A great help to put an image on our blocks.
Snow White – Brothers Grimm
The difficulties of puberty
The Snow White Princess envied by her stepmother because she is “a thousand times more beautiful”, she is sent into the woods to be killed there. Spared, she takes refuge in the house of the seven dwarfs. The stepmother finds her and disguises as a witch. She will return to life by the kiss of a prince.
Few tales manage to make us understand the major phases of child development – including puberty in girls – as well as Snow White. Early in the story, a queen who later died while giving birth to Snow White, pricks her finger. Three drops of blood fell into the snow: innocence, whiteness and contrast with sexuality, red color.
This tale prepares girls to accept sexual bleeding, menstruation. The child learns that a small amount of blood is the first condition of the design. Similarly, Snow White made her maiden, waiting for “the young and beautiful prince” that the issue of desire that mothers (symbolized by the apple). The attitude of the stepmother, who tries in vain to reassure herself ( “Mirror, mirror …”), recalls that among the steps for the construction of female identity, the mother must give way to his daughter.
Little Red Riding Hood – Perrault
The prettiest girl in the village is sent by his mother to visit her grandmother. Through the forest, she meets the wolf. This tale is known as thirty versions in France. That of Perrault, which dates from 1697, ends with: “And saying these words, this wicked wolf fell upon Little Red Riding Hood and ate her” Among the tales, the famous Red Riding Hood is the most sexually explicit. The red color symbolizes the violent emotions related to sexuality. It is obvious that the wolf is not a carnivorous animal, but a glaring metaphor for the male: when the girl undresses and joins him in bed, and told him that his long arms are made to improve the kiss, little room is left to the imagination. The wolf and the hunter are two opposing male figures that the girl must learn to recognize: the first is seductive and deadly, and the second is benevolent savior.
This tale is set very clear guard, whose moral was even added a few lines by Perrault: “Young girls, beautiful, well made and nice, do very wrong to listen to all kinds of people.”