Psychology And Fairy Tale Many parents read fairy tales to their children. Young people are able to use their imaginations while listening to these fantastical stories. Filled with dragons, witches, damsels in distress, and heroes, these tales stay in the mind children for years to come. However, these young listeners are getting much more than a happy ending. Fairy tales such as The Goose Girl, The Three Little Pigs, Cinderella, and Snow White one can find theories of psychology.
Erik Erikson`s theories of social development as well as Sigmund Freud`s theory of the map of the mind and his controversial Oedipal complex can be found in many fairy tales. Within every fairy tale there lies a hidden lesson in psychology. In 1963, psychoanalyst Erik Erikson developed one of the most comprehensive theories of social development. The theory centers around eight stages of psychological development. One of the stages, autonomy versus shame and doubt, occurs between the ages of one and a half and three years old. In this stage toddlers develop independence if freedom and exploration are encouraged.
Autonomy itself means having control over oneself. At any given moment, our behavior, including this sense [autonomy], is influenced by the outer environment and our inner psychological state (Restak 268). If they are overly restricted and protected they develop shame. ?Shame is the estrangement of being exposed and conscious of being looked at disapprovingly, of wishing to bury one`s face or sink into the ground. (Blake 115).
The key to developing autonomy over shame and doubt lies in the amount of control. If parents control their children too much the children will not be able to develop their own sense of control in the environment around them. However, if the parents provide too little control the children will become overly demanding. Gaining autonomy from one`s parents is the topic of a once famous Brother`s Grimm story, The Goose Girl. The story is of a beautiful princess who is to be married to a prince chosen by her mother.
The girl along with her maid was sent to the castle of the prince. On the way the princess gave her maid a golden cup and asked for a drink. The maid took the cup and told the princess she would no longer be her servant. Again this happened and this time the maid realized her power over the princes and forced her to switch horses and dresses and to tell no one. Upon arrival at the castle the maid was married while the true princess was forced to tend to the geese in a pasture.
In the pasture while tending geese with a boy she let her pure gold hair down. The boy wished to grab it. However, the princess summoned the winds and would not allow the boy to touch her hair. The boy calls the king to witness this daily event. This reveals the truth and the maid is killed. The true princess marries her prince and they rule their kingdom in peace.
This tale shows the consequences of a childish dependence clung to for a long time. The princess trusts her mother who then sends her off to get married. Because she was protected as a child she did not develop autonomy. She was very dependent on her parents. Her dependence is then shifted to her maid who robs her of her title. The princess fears the maid and goes along with her lies.
When the princess is in the pasture herding geese her partner wishes to touch her hair. She stands up for herself and will not allow this. The boy degrading her is the turning point in her life. The happy solution came about by the girl asserting herself and her dignity in not allowing the boy to touch her hair. The Goose girl learned that it is much harder to be truly oneself, but that this alone will gain her true autonomy and change her fate.
One of Sigmund Freud`s theories centers on the map of the mind. He divided the mind into three parts. The three parts are the id, the ego, and the super ego. The id is known as the pleasure principal. He believed Our entire physical activity is bent upon procuring pleasure and avoiding pain.
(Restak 110). The id only wants to seek pleasure. It is mainly concerned with discharging built up energy. The second part is the super ego. The super ego keeps control over the id by causing guilt for being bad and pride for doing good.
The third part is the ego. The ego is also known as the reality principal. It regulates the interactions of the person with their environment. The ego allows us to express the desires of the id in a socially acceptable way and within the boundaries of the super ego. Freud believed these three things were in all minds and were in constant interaction.
The fairy tale of the Three Little Pigs centers around three pigs who are told they must live on their own. The first two pigs make week homes and then celebrate until the wolf blows their house down. They travel to the oldest pig`s home, which is made of sturdy bricks. There they live in peace. This tale deals directly with the ongoing battle between the id and the super ego.
The pigs must choose between the pleasure principal and the reality principal. The two pigs that built weak homes chose to side with the pleasure principal and seek gratification. They were not thinking of the dangers of reality. The oldest pig learned to behave in agreement with the reality principal or the super ego. Instead of acting out of desire he acts on his ability to predict what may occur in the future. Thus, Freud`s theory of the map of the mind deals directly with the three little pigs. The myth of Oedipus begins with a pregnant queen of Thebes.
The local prophet told the anxious king that his son to be born would kill his father and marry his mother. When the child was born he was given to a royal servant. The servant was to abandon the child. However, the child was found by a shepherd and was later adopted. One day the child …