April 25, 2012

Tom Elsner: A Jungian Approach to Fairy Tales

Thomas Elsner, J.D., M.A., Jungian analyst, is a core faculty member at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, California where he also has a private practice. A former attorney, he trained at the Jung-Von Franz Center for Depth Psychology in Zurich. A member of the C. G. Jung Study Center of Southern California, his areas of special interest include alchemy and the depth psychology of folklore and literature. He is currently completing a book about Coleridge and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

“Fairy tale interpretation is a process of self discovery, an individuation process involving a participation of the conscious and the unconscious.” ~Tom Elsner

Click HERE for audio interview (1:20:50m)
David Van Nuys, Ph.D. (Dr. Dave) interviews Tom Elsner

"...Dr. Dave: Yeah you mentioned that fairy tales are compensatory and I know the idea of compensation is really important in Jungian theory. Just help our listeners that are not familiar with that concept, what do you mean when you say that fairy tales are compensatory?

Tom Elsner: They tell us what we don’t know. But what we should know to become whole or complete. They fill in what´s missing from the conscious attitude. Jung thought that´s what primarily what a dream is doing in the life of the individual; we are dreaming of what we don’t yet know, we are dreaming of what we need to become more in touch with these so called “shadow sides” of our personalities, for instance, show up in dreams. Von Franz’s idea with folklore is that it’s doing a similar thing but culturally. So, for instance, in the Grimm’s stories, if we take those stories which were written down by the brothers Grimm after they collected them from oral story tellers in the19th century. The collective culture of the time in Europe is Christian, primarily Christian and so what happens in the folklore is a lot of pagan imagery shows up in the folklore, a lot of the sense of a spirit in nature for instance, of dealing with witches, of talking animals, of redemption motifs that involve trickery and deceit and lying---very non-Christian themes show up in the folklore. One could say the repressed feminine world, shows up in the folklore, very much of the Brothers Grimm stories..." ~Excerpted from 27-page PDF Transcript

"Fairy tales are the not yet understood dreams of a culture"

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