Friday, March 12, 2010

Women in Folklore: Marie-Louise von Franz

Today I am spotlighting Marie-Louise von Franz, not because she was a folklorist, but because her work as a psychotherapist and writer often focused on fairy tales, increasing their visibility with another group of individuals. She was a follower of Carl Jung and applied many of his theories to fairy tales. Whether or not you are an adherent of their philosophies, it is helpful to be familiar with their work since they have influenced the field of psychology as well as fairy tale analysis.

From The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Folktales and Fairy Tales:

A leading disciple of Carl Gustav Jung, German-born Swiss analytical psychologist Marie-Louise von Franz was an expert on the significance of fairy tales. After 1961, she carried on her mentor’s work at the Zurich-based C. G. Jung Institute while developing some of his insights into her own theories.

Once her worldwide study of fairy tales had revealed extensive similarities between narratives from different cultures, von Franz interpreted numerous tales in accordance with Jungian archetypal psychology. Based on her vast knowledge of myths, fairy tales, and dreams, her interpretations centered on the narratives’ recurrent archetypal images. By amplifying the narrative themes and characters, she emphasized the tales’ symbolic meanings.

From Wikipedia:

Marie-Louise von Franz (January 4, 1915 - February 17, 1998), the daughter of an Austrian baron and born in Munich, Germany, was a Swiss Jungian Psychologist and scholar. In her native Switzerland, she was known by a pet form of her Christian name, Malus. She worked with Carl Jung, whom she met in 1933 and knew until his death in 1961. It was Jung who encouraged her to live with fellow Jungian analyst Barbara Hannah, who was 23 years von Franz's senior. When Hannah asked Jung why he was so keen on putting them together, Jung replied that he wanted von Franz "to see that not all women are such brutes as her mother," and also stated that "the real reason you should live together is that your chief interest will be analysis and analysts should not live alone." The two women became lifelong friends.

Von Franz founded the C. G. Jung Institute in Zurich. As a psychotherapist, she is said to have interpreted over 65,000 dreams, primarily practising in Kusnacht, Switzerland. Von Franz also wrote over 20 volumes on Analytical psychology, most notably on fairy tales as they relate to Archetypal or Depth Psychology, most specifically by amplification of the themes and characters. She also wrote on subjects such as alchemy, discussed from the Jungian, psychological perspective, and active imagination, which could be described as conscious dreaming. In Man and his Symbols, von Franz described active imagination as follows: "Active imagination is a certain way of meditating imaginatively, by which one may deliberately enter into contact with the unconscious and make a conscious connection with psychic phenomena."

Here's a listing with descriptions of some of her key works.

The Interpretation of Fairy Tales by Marie-Louise von Franz and Kendra Crossen

Of the various types of mythological literature, fairy tales are the simplest and purest expressions of the collective unconscious and thus offer the clearest understanding of the basic patterns of the human psyche. Every people or nation has its own way of experiencing this psychic reality, and so a study of the world's fairy tales yields a wealth of insights into the archetypal experiences of humankind.

Perhaps the foremost authority on the psychological interpretation of fairy tales is Marie-Louise von Franz. In this book—originally published as An Introduction to the Interpretation of Fairy Tales —she describes the steps involved in analyzing and illustrates them with a variety of European tales, from "Beauty and the Beast" to "The Robber Bridegroom."

Dr. von Franz begins with a history of the study of fairy tales and the various theories of interpretation. By way of illustration she presents a detailed examination of a simple Grimm's tale, "The Three Feathers," followed by a comprehensive discussion of motifs related to Jung's concept of the shadow, the anima, and the animus. This revised edition has been corrected and updated by the author.

Shadow and Evil in Fairy Tales

Fairy tales contain profound lessons for those who would dive into their meaning. Von Franz draws on her vast knowledge of folklore and her experience as a pychoanalyst and a collaborator with Jung to illuminate on fairy tales and the dark side of life and human pyschology.

Feminine in Fairy Tales

In this engaging commentary, the distinguished analyst and author Marie-Louise von Franz shows how the Feminine reveals itself in fairy tales of German, Russian, Scandivian, and Eskimo origin, including familiar stories such as "Sleeping Beauty, " "Snow White and Rose Red, " and "Rumpelstiltskin." Some tales, she points out, offer insights into the psychology of women, while others reflect the problems and characteristics of the anima, the inner femininity of men. Dr. von Franz discusses the archetypes and symbolic themes that appear in fairy tales as well as dreams and fantasies, draws practical advice from the tales, and demonstrates its application in case studies from her analytical practice.

Individuation in Fairy Tales

With a text revised and corrected by the author, this definitive edition of Individuation in Fairy Tales is rich with focuses on the symbolism of the bird motif in six fairy tales of Europe and Asia: "The White Parrot" (Spain), "The Bath Badgerd" (Persia), "Prince Hassan Pasha" (Turkestan), "The Bird Flower Triller" (Iran), "The Nightingale Giser" (Balkans), and "The Bird Wehmus" (Austria). She explores the themes of psychological and spiritual transformation in the varied images of birds, such as the phoenix, the parrot, and the griffin. Special attention is given to the connection between fairy tales and alchemy and to the guidance that fairy tales give to therapeutic work.

Archetypal Patterns in Fairy Tales

Archetypal Patterns in Fairy Tales is the first new volume of Dr. von Franz's legendary Zurich lectures to be published since 1980. There are in-depth studies of six fairy tales - from Denmark, Spain, China, France and Africa, and one from the Grimm collection - with references to parallel themes in many others. Featuring the symbolic, nonlinear approach she is famous for, it offers unique insights into cross-cultural motifs and individual psychology.

The Mother: Archetypal Image in Fairytales

A feminine perspective on how the mother complex functions in the practical world as well as in the deeper regions of the psyche. The particular focus here is on positive and negative aspects of the maternal image in well-known fairy tales, including Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Hansel and Gretel.

You can read about more titles on Amazon or at the official Marie-Louise von Franz website. It's not a very big or helpful site, but it does list all her works.

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