Questions, Intuitions, Revisions

Day 6: "The Uses of Enchantment"

Let's begin by "reading" a couple of pictures together...

What do you see??

Image from the cover of Bettelheim's book

Rachel Grobstein, "My Brother as the Goddess of Wisdom Emerging from the Paternal Chrysalis [his formative years, 1984-2003]"

"Shell," from the Watercolors of Sharon Burgmayer

I. Tuesday's Writing Assignment
third/"final" draft/phase of this paper: an analysis of your fairy tale
(from the point of view of Bettelheim, or one of his feminist successors, or the evil character in your tale...??)
the trajectory here:
from subjective/personal life of learning
to more archetypal/universal fairy tale
to more objective, distanced analysis:
experimenting now w/ a third language, that of analytical/academic writing
(i.e.: make a claim! develop a thesis! back it up! with data! )
see also "Guidelines for Revision," in packet, re: provocative thesis, structure, love of language and pizzazz!

II. Spend (@ least some of) today figuring out together what a (Bettelheimian) analysis is

Beginning with your postings about....a deeper meaning??

Rebecca: My first response is to want to run out and read everything else Bettelheim ever wrote...

Jenny Lee: I have to disagree on some points...I think it is a very subjective and personal account her gives about children and fairy tales

Sarah: there is a sense of comfort in withdrawing from reality...fairy tales is a place where I can go and visit when I want and be unattached to anything

Deborah: to me most of what Bethlehem said made perfect sense, minus the blatantly Freudian parts...I think all that about he separation anxiety and Oedipus cycle as a little nit-picky and over the top. Okay, so fairy tales help us, but do we really have to know exactly how?

Jessie: being able to imagine other worlds besides the one I live in was and is very important to me

Amanda: I am struggling to not lash out with criticism about the content we are being presented with in this class....

Michelle: I think it is...important to note that..the princes that they rode off with were also unhappy

Joanne: I never liked fairy tales

Caroline: who is he to give meaning?

Charlotte: children need the unrealistic so that eventually they can understand reality

Lauren: it is good at times to have your judgment shredded

Rushita: the kid needs to be exposed to two parts of the world; the rational as well as the imaginative...find meaning rather than being taught it

Virginia: I can't begin to image that my reading fairy tales actually soothed my violent subconscious

Jenny Chen: Bettelheim's idea should be incorporated to education around the nation.

IV. My questions:

V. Who Bettelheim was/where he came from (see web resources, on course home page):
1903-90, American developmental psychologist, b. Austria. He received his doctoral degree (1938) from the Univ. of Vienna. He was imprisoned in the Dachau and Buchenwald concentration camps during the Nazi occupation of Austria. After emigrating to the United States in 1939, he published (1943) a highly influential essay on the psychology of concentration camp prisoners. He taught psychology at the Univ. of Chicago (1944-73) and directed the Chicago-based Orthogenic School for children with emotional problems, placing special emphasis on the treatment of autism . Bettelheim believed that autistic children had been raised in unstimulating environments during the first few years of their lives, when language and motor skills were developing. Although his theories on autism have been largely discredited, he authored a number of influential works on child development, including The Informed Heart (1960), The Empty Fortress (1967), and The Uses of Enchantment (1976).
Born in Vienna in 1903. Was interned in Dachau and Buchenwald from 1938-9. Emigrated to the United States and ended up at the University of Chicago where he headed the Orthogenic School. He pioneered a controversial theory of autism (now defunct) which blamed mothers's indifference. In 1990 he committed suicide, an act that surprised many, given the optimistic tone of many of his books. Recently, Bettelheim has again become the subject of debate in the light of two recent biographies.
The Empty Fortress, his celebrated study of autism, came out in 1967. I have nothing personal against Bettelheim, if it is not personal to resent being compared to a devouring witch, an infanticidal king, and an SS guard in a concentration camp, or to wonder what could be the basis of Bettelheim's statement that "the precipitating factor in infantile autism is the parent's wish that his child should not exist."

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