Fairy Tales and the Social Unconscious
The Hidden Language

Paper: 978 1 78220 268 4 / $42.95
Published: August 2017  

Publisher: Karnac Books
192 pp., 6" x 9"
Series: New International Library of Group Analysis
The book combines two main perspectives: the study of the social unconscious and the study of fairy tales. Examining different versions of fairy tales told by different ethnic communities teaches us about the relations between universal and local/cultural aspects of the social unconscious. Exploring the unique status of fairy tales as located on the border line between concrete/somatic and abstract/linguistic realms sheds light on different levels of the human mind.

The book focuses on a specific phenomenon common in fairy tales: a realization of idiomatic expressions-- a phenomenon in which an abstract/mental idea is hidden behind a concrete event embedded in the plot. Deciphering the abstract idea out of the pictorial world of the fairy tale enables one to understand the stories in a way which is otherwise unavailable. The book suggests interdisciplinary examination, reminding us of the rich, deep messages hidden in fairy tales and connecting us to early developments in the field of psychoanalysis, by suggesting new interpretation of old, ancient material. The book may be of interest to therapists in the clinical community as well as to everyone who is fascinated by the fantastic, magical world of fairy tales.

Table of Contents:
About The Authors
Series Editor’s Foreword

1) “Giving one’s heart” and “speaking from the bottom of the heart”: the case of the Jewish mother in Eastern European tales
2) “Asked for her hand” and the tales about the handless maiden: how is taking the hand associated with a marriage proposal?
3) “Living in her skin”: social skin-ego and the maiden who enters others’ skins in fairy tales
4) Eyes and envy: reading Grimms’ One-eye, Two-eyes and Three-eyes and its Jewish parallels
5) “I (do not) see what you mean”: the concrete and metaphoric dimensions of blindness in fairy tales and the social mind
6) “To step into someone’s shoes”: the tales about Cinderella
7) Fire of lust: passion and greed in fairy tales and the social (un)conscious
8) “To eat a crow” (swallow frogs): a story of decrees and humiliation


Reviews & Endorsements:
"Fairy tales move here magically between the concrete and the abstract, the somatic and spiritual. The reader is fascinated by the play with human existence, from intimacy to primordial experiences, and the emergence of unconscious relations in society. This book is an eye-opener to the meanings and functions of metaphors and the symbolic world of fairy tales."
- Robi Friedman, PhD, clinical psychologist and group analyst, President of the International Group Analytic Society
"In this richly textured text, Ravit Raufman and Haim Weinberg integrate fable, myth, fairytale and group psychotherapy, deepening the reader’s understanding of the social unconscious and its historic, cross cultural and collective roots. Language is the essential medium of our work and this text expands our therapeutic capacity to understand in depth our patients’ language and use of metaphor."
- Molyn Leszcz, MD, psychiatrist-in-chief, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, and professor and clinical vice chair in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto