Amor i Psyche na kozetce: psychoanalityczne metody interpretacji literatury na przykładzie baśni Apulejusza

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Wydawnictwo Poznańskiego Towarzystwa Przyjaciół Nauk

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Amor and Psyche on the couch. Psychoanalytic methods of literary interpretation on the example of Apuleius’ tale


The purpose of the paper is to show differences in psychoanalytic approach to literary works, especially myths and folktales, with regard to different theories of personality stemming from the thought of Sigmund Freud. In the paper three methods are demonstrated – Freudian (based on Bettelheim’s approach to folktales), Jungian (based on Neumann’s analysis of Amor and Psyche), and that of transactional analysis (based on Berne’s and Karpmann’s ideas on tales and drama triangle). Each method of interpretation gives a different perspective on the meaning of Apuleius’ tale, which might be useful for broadening the view of classicists on this famous literary work.
There are different schools of psychoanalytic thought and each one of them provides a dif- ferent theory of human psyche functioning. Myths and folktales were always interesting for psy- choanalysts as expressions of unconscious human phantasies, although the symbolical meaning of myths and folktales is interpreted quite differently by various schools of psychoanalysis. Besides, the psychoanalytic method of symbol interpretation was developed and is practiced in the context of therapeutic relationship, a dialogue and encounter of two persons, so we should ask to what degree the psychoanalytic principles of interpretation can be applied. However, it might be use- ful to broaden our view of ancient literature. In the article, the author gives an example of such interpretation derived from three approaches - classical Freudian, Jungian and that of transactional analysis. From a Freudian point of view, which was developed by a great folktale specialist Bruno Bettelheim, the tale of Amor and Psyche can be seen mainly from the perspective of the Oedipus complex, and Psyche seems to deal with the unconscious fear of vindictive mother figure, trying to resolve the conflict. From the Jungian point of view (showed on the example of Eric Neumann) the tale is about a transition from a matriarchal to patriarchal stage of human development, and deals with the process of individuation, emerging of individual consciousness from the unconscious matrix of Mother archetype. From the perspective of transactional analysis (Berne and Karpmann) the tale is a symbolic expression of the unconscious life-script, with peculiar psychological games which can be analyzed by using the Karpmann’s concept of drama triangle. Psyche is uncon- sciously manipulating the environment to fulfill her desires, starting the games from the position of the victim and avoiding responsibility and active problem solving. In the end, however, Psyche seems to take responsibility and the script seems to lead to a relatively mature solution.




Folktale, Myth, Apuleius, Amor and Psyche, Psychoanalysis, Jungian psychology, Transactional analysis


Symbolae Philologorum Posnaniensium, 2010, nr XXII/2, s. 55-84




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Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Biblioteka Uniwersytetu im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Ministerstwo Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego