World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

The Uses of Enchantment

The Uses of Enchantment
Author Bruno Bettelheim
Country United States
Language English
Publication date
Pages 352
LC Class GR550 .B47

The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales is a 1976 book by Austrian-born American psychologist Bruno Bettelheim in which he analyzes fairy tales in terms of Freudian psychology.

In the book, Bettelheim discusses the emotional and symbolic importance of fairy tales for children, including traditional tales at one time considered too dark, such as those collected and published by the Brothers Grimm. Bettelheim suggested that traditional fairy tales, with the darkness of abandonment, death, witches, and injuries, allowed children to grapple with their fears in remote, symbolic terms. If they could read and interpret these fairy tales in their own way, he believed, they would get a greater sense of meaning and purpose. Bettelheim thought that by engaging with these socially evolved stories, children would go through emotional growth that would better prepare them for their own futures.


  • Structure and contents 1
  • Awards 2
  • Accusations of Plagiarism 3
  • In popular culture 4
  • References 5

Structure and contents

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:


In the U.S., Bettelheim and The Uses of Enchantment won the 1976 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism[1] and the 1977 National Book Award in category Contemporary Thought.[2]

Accusations of Plagiarism

In 1991, University of California anthropologist Alan Dundes accused Bettelheim of copying key passages from A Psychiatric Study of Myths and Fairy Tales: their origin, meaning, and usefulness (1974) by Julius Heuscher without giving appropriate credit. This accusation of plagiarism is not conclusive.[3]

In popular culture

The Uses of Enchantment has been cited as an influence in many subsequent works that utilise fairy tales in adult terms, including the 2011 Catherine Hardwicke film Red Riding Hood.


  1. ^ "All Past National Book Critics Circle Award Winners and Finalists". National Book Critics Circle. Retrieved 2012-03-09.
  2. ^ "National Book Awards – 1977". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-03-09.
    There was a "Contemporary" or "Current" award category from 1972 to 1980.
  3. ^ Sharman Stein (February 7, 1991). "Bettelheim Accused Of Plagiarizing Book". Chicago Tribune. 
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.