May 1977

The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales

Author Affiliations

300 Crittenden Blvd Rochester, NY 14642


by Bruno Bettelheim, 328 pp, $12.50, Alfred A. Knopf, 1976.

Am J Dis Child. 1977;131(5):600. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1977.02120180114024

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Bruno Bettelheim has spent his lifetime working on behalf of children and their secure upbringing. Having survived two concentration camps, he came to the United States and created a new therapeutic environment to help psychotic children survive their illnesses. He has frequently written about that experience; now he turns to a seemingly different subject, the fairy tale. He perceives an underlying continuity in his work, maintaining that the familiar fairy tale is, in fact, an art form, delineating the ultimate goal of child and man alike, a life with meaning. He indicates why other children's stories fail to attain this goal, and at the same time, why fairy tales themselves have fallen into disuse. In discussing their virtues, the author employs his extensive clinical experience, his engaging style, and, of course, the fairy tales themselves. Psychoanalytic assumptions constitute the organizing principle of his book, its consistency, and its occasional shortcomings;

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