Sagans förtrollade värld : folksagornas innebörd och betydelse


Stockholm : AWE/Geber, 1979


Bettelheim, Bruno

Number of Pages




Publication Year


Original Language


Categories and Tags

Hardcover, Ex. Library Copy, Literature, Fairy Tales

Dewey Subjects

Customs, Etiquette, Folklore > Folk literature > Folklore > Social sciences


The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales is a 1976 book by Bruno Bettelheim, in which the author analyzes fairy tales in terms of Freudian psychoanalysis. The book has been a subject of controversy regarding possible plagiarism.

The book is divided into two main sections. The first, “A Pocketful of Magic,” outlines Bettelheim’s thoughts on the value of fairy tales for children. The second part, “In Fairy Land,” presents psychoanalytical readings of several popular fairy tales, specifically:

  • “Hansel and Gretel”
  • “Little Red Riding Hood”
  • “Jack and the Beanstalk”
  • “Snow White”
  • “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”
  • “The Sleeping Beauty”
  • “Cinderella”

Bettelheim presents that fairy tales help children solve existential problems such as separation anxiety, oedipal conflict, and sibling rivalries. A child’s unrealistic fears often require unrealistic hopes. Many fairy tales’ extreme violence and ugly emotions deflect what may be happening in the child’s mind. Furthermore, “The Frog King” may be superior to modern sex education in that it acknowledges that a child may find sex disgusting, and this may serve a protective function for the child.

In his introduction, Bettelheim stated that he was writing the book as “an educator and therapist of severely disturbed children.” However, after his death, his credentials in those fields were found to be faked, and Bettelheim had only taken three introductory classes in psychology.



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