Glimpses of the Association between Fairy Tales and Homeopathy
30 March 2018 (online)
‘Mythical stories make up a kind of collective dream that we all have together’, writes Farokh Master in this enchanting and intelligent book on fairy tales and homeopathy. Until now, most of the research on this subject has been published in German. The main source is the work of the late Juergen Becker, which, unfortunately, is not available to non-German reading homeopaths. So it is very exciting to have a book on fairy tales written in English, by a homeopath who has spent the past 30 years researching depth psychology and folklore.
The cover of the book is cleverly illustrated with fairy tale characters, transporting the soon to be reader into a symbolic world reminiscent of childhood experiences with such stories.
The book is in two parts: the first 12 chapters include in-depth information on the therapeutic value of fairy tales and the remaining chapters are devoted to specific tales and how they relate to materia medica.
Dr. Master's style of writing is very lively, engaging and warm. This is especially true when he tells of his childhood experiences with fairy tales, and how he brings those early experiences into his present practice. ‘It is a great treasure [he writes] to know and reveal which tales from our childhood have a hold on us’.
There is also a great depth of knowledge and psychological insight to be gleaned from this book. One of the early chapters is an overview of psychological theories of fairy tales and their therapeutic value from various psychologists, beginning with Freud. Another describes how to use little toys and figures from fairy tales and family members as projective techniques to facilitate case taking in children ages 7 and 12 years. The author calls this the Modified Fairy Tale Test. It is very similar to Jungian sandplay, an effective therapy for adults as well as children.
Particularly notable is the chapter that addresses the need for women to have their own archetypal symbols. Most myths and historical writings were interpreted and written by men; therefore, the female characters are a projection of a man's view of women. Master stresses the importance of what is known in Jungian psychology as the projection of the male anima. This has historically played a powerful role in colouring a woman's identity to such an extent that it impedes her journey toward individuation. Not so fairy tales and folklore, according to the author. They are an oral tradition and as likely to have been told by female and male storytellers and may contain true female role models.
The chapters on specific fairy tale characters and their relationship to homeopathic remedies include Hansel and Gretel, Rumpelstiltskin, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and the Little Mermaid. One chapter is specifically dedicated to villains in fairy tales.
The tale of the Little Mermaid is quite complex. The author choses to use the original Hans Christian Anderson's version with its sad ending. The beautiful, coloured illustrations add to the charm of the subject of lovely sea-maidens in their underwater world. Reading the story, one wonders what remedy the author sees in this archetypal figure. When the remedy is revealed, it feels clearly indicated.
Lastly, there is an excellent bibliography for research, including a very complete list of books written by the Jungian expert on fairy tales, Marie Louise von Franz. In addition, there are reliable references throughout the book that the reader can use to further explore the fascinating art of interpreting fairy tales. This is very wise, as any investigation within the symbolic realm is an ongoing process. One single book or author, no matter how erudite, cannot include all that needs to be said on the subject.
As with many of the more recently published books on homeopathy, this book could benefit by including an index. It seems that fewer and fewer books contain that very useful research tool.
Glimpses of the Association between Fairy Tales and Homeopathy takes an important step toward integrating the symbolic world of modern depth psychology into homeopathy through the use of fairy tales. Hopefully, this is just the first in a series of well-written and deeply researched investigations into the symbolism of fairy tales and their significance in homeopathic practice.