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Concept: Fairy tale


Researchers have long been fascinated by the strong continuities evident in the oral traditions associated with different cultures. According to the ‘historic-geographic’ school, it is possible to classify similar tales into “international types” and trace them back to their original archetypes. However, critics argue that folktale traditions are fundamentally fluid, and that most international types are artificial constructs. Here, these issues are addressed using phylogenetic methods that were originally developed to reconstruct evolutionary relationships among biological species, and which have been recently applied to a range of cultural phenomena. The study focuses on one of the most debated international types in the literature: ATU 333, ‘Little Red Riding Hood’. A number of variants of ATU 333 have been recorded in European oral traditions, and it has been suggested that the group may include tales from other regions, including Africa and East Asia. However, in many of these cases, it is difficult to differentiate ATU 333 from another widespread international folktale, ATU 123, ‘The Wolf and the Kids’. To shed more light on these relationships, data on 58 folktales were analysed using cladistic, Bayesian and phylogenetic network-based methods. The results demonstrate that, contrary to the claims made by critics of the historic-geographic approach, it is possible to identify ATU 333 and ATU 123 as distinct international types. They further suggest that most of the African tales can be classified as variants of ATU 123, while the East Asian tales probably evolved by blending together elements of both ATU 333 and ATU 123. These findings demonstrate that phylogenetic methods provide a powerful set of tools for testing hypotheses about cross-cultural relationships among folktales, and point towards exciting new directions for research into the transmission and evolution of oral narratives.

Concepts: Evolution, Biology, Species, Phylogenetic tree, Phylogenetics, Folklore, Fairy tale, Little Red Riding Hood


This paper interprets the fairytale Snow White (Bruder Grimm 1857) in terms of the realization of absolute beauty. Jung’s understanding that ‘in myths and fairytales, as in dreams, the soul speaks about itself’ (Jung 1945, para. 400), underpins such an approach. From this perspective a fantasy image is not about us, not about our unconsciousness, but is essentially about itself. The idea of absolute beauty first arises in the Queen’s mind as a wish. Despite the Queen’s strong desire to be named as the most beautiful person in the world, her mirror reflects that it is actually her daughter Snow White who is the fairest. Snow White might be regarded in the language of Giegerich as her internal other. Effectively they are separated into the Real that conceives the idea of absolute beauty and the Ideal that embodies it. The exchange that takes place between the two - mediated by mirror and window - generates the corpse of surpassing beauty that never decays but lies inaccessible behind the glass coffin. However the loving and penetrating gaze of the Prince, representing masculinity, succeeds in reanimating Snow White. Thus the Prince as the Other that is completely external and unknown to both the Queen and Snow White, specifically to their femininity, facilitates the realization of absolute beauty as the Ideal in the Real.

Concepts: English-language films, Jacques Lacan, Fairy tale, Brothers Grimm, Grimm's Fairy Tales, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs


Myths and folklore, as expressions of popular beliefs, provide valuable information on medical knowledge in earlier times. Fairy tales have often recounted occupational maladies throughout the ages and also provide some insight into the toxic effects of certain metals, such as mercury. Much historical information can be gleaned from unexpected sources, and as such, fairy tales should be more carefully scrutinized by contemporary researchers with an interest in the historical origins of workplace injury and disease.

Concepts: Medicine, Health, Epistemology, Poison, Occupational health psychology, Occupational safety and health, Folklore, Fairy tale


In the analysis of a woman with multiple childhood traumas, the fairy tale “Hansel and Gretel” figured prominently. The author discusses the use of the fairy tale in this case at various levels. He suggests an interplay between a national myth, the fairy tale, and a personal myth-the patient’s psychodynamics. The fairy tale can be used to illuminate personal meanings derived from it. In the experience of childhood trauma, the repeated reading of a fairy tale can help organize and defend against terrifying anxiety.

Concepts: Psychological trauma, Fairy tale, Hansel and Gretel, Brothers Grimm, Grimm's Fairy Tales, Finette Cendron, The Lost Children, Fairy tales


BACKGROUND: The impact of an onco-haematological illness for children is a traumatic event that opens to pain, hospitalizations and interrupts the continuity of daily life. It is difficult for the child to make meaning, to share the pain or ask a question related to the illness because, often, the parents or doctors cannot find a way to communicate in a suitable way for the child who remains in a situation of ‘unspoken’, where, fear, anxiety and pain cannot find a space to express. METHODS: The present research-intervention uses the methodology of invented fairy tales in groups with onco-haematological children, in the hospital, in order to explore the organization of the meanings at the base of the tales co-constructed by the participants underlying weaknesses and strengths of the invented fairy tales in groups intervention. The invented fairy tales in groups is used as a tool, such as a play, to express, share and support the experience of the illness of children. Forty-nine children participated to the invented fairy tales in groups in an onco-haematological hospital. Within a quali-quantitative framework we performed a thematic analysis of elementary context, cluster analysis, on the fairy tales considered as a unique narrative corpus of the thought of the group. RESULTS: The analysis shows four thematic clusters: fantasy as search for a meaning, 29.71%, the group as a space for illusions, 27.90%, the illness as a family problem, 25.72%, anchoring reality, 16.67%. The results highlighted three main carriers of sense: the representation of illness/the relational world/the representation of the institution. CONCLUSIONS: The use of invented-fairy-tales groups allowed the onco-haematological children to tell and share the experience of illness through a different way, which let them express symbolically their pain. The invented fairy tale in groups becomes a mediator of psychic processes which offer new solutions while improving interpersonal relationships/communication between the participants in group.

Concepts: Anxiety, The Child, Children's literature, Fairy tale, Fairy, Gnome, Fable, Fantasy


This study examined incidental recall of a folktale told to 91 Tohono O'odham American Indian children (average age 9 years) who either were directly addressed or had the opportunity to overhear the telling of the folktale. Learning from surrounding incidental events contrasts with learning through direct instruction common in Western schooling, which was familiar to all the children and their families. We hypothesized that Tohono O'odham children who have greater cultural engagement in traditional Tohono O'odham practices (Tohono O'odham language, activities, and storytelling) would have greater incidental recall of the story, especially in the overhearing condition, due to the emphasis on learning through listening to others in this community. Cultural engagement significantly predicted incidental story recall for both overhearing children and those who were directly told the story. Further, cultural engagement explained additional variance in the number of story events recalled in the overhearing group. (PsycINFO Database Record © 2013 APA, all rights reserved).

Concepts: Scientific method, All rights reserved, The Opportunity, Folklore, Storytelling, Tohono O'odham, O'odham language, Fairy tale