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September Lecture & Discussion: "Rumpelstiltskin: An Exploration of the Psychological and Symbolic Meaning of Folk Tales,” Presented by Jody Wainer, LISW, Jungian Analyst

  • The First Unitarian Church of Cleveland 21600 Shaker Boulevard Shaker Heights, OH, 44122 United States (map)


Lecture & Discussion Limited to 15 Participants


Lecture & Discussion: Member $35
Non-Member $45
Student w/ ID $5
Senior Member $30
Senior Non-Member $35

CEUs: 3.0 CEUs are available for Saturday’s lecture & discussion (an additional $15). 

Lecture & Discussion Description:

Folktales have been told over the millennia and across the globe, capturing the hearts and imaginations of every generation and affecting listeners everywhere. They are symbolic stories that reveal archetypal aspects of human existence. Rumpelstiltskin tells the story of a young girl’s desperate situation: to save her life, she promises her child to a gnome who rescues her. We will explore how the girl becomes trapped, how she is rescued, and how she regains her child and her life. We will seek to understand where we encounter similar dilemmas in our lives and how we can grow to regain autonomy. Rumpelstiltskin is the gnome who helps and hinders, whose power we have to appreciate and overcome and who will enslave us unless we passionately seek to know him and thereby reclaim our vitality.

Outline of Topics: 

  • Dimensions of folklore
  • Rumpelstiltskin: The Brothers Grimm fairytale of the poor Miller’s daughter
  • Interpretation of the following:
    • Explore the figures in the story to see what psychological traits we find in them and where those traits reside in us
    • Look at the actions in the story and explore where they occur in our lives
    • Reflect on the protagonist’s dilemma and the means with which she finds a way out of her desperate situation
  • What does the story reveal? What are the psychological processes about which give the tale information out of the storehouse of humanity's way of living life? The story tells of a young feminine ego who lives in the father’s world and whose creative energies are aroused by father and king to further their needs, and at a moment of total helplessness and near despair, the affective realization of her dilemma calls forth a mannequin whose services on the one hand, rescue her, and on the other hand, deprive her. After having been saved by the mannequin, she has a period of growth in her pregnancy, and she becomes able to claim for herself her feminine creativity. She can then deal directly with that complex of living for others and she can own her life more fully.

Lecture Objectives: 

  1. To identify the way in which folktales are symbolic stories that depict the inherited possibilities within all of us, they describe psychosocial development and create awareness of what helps and hinders our emotional growth.
  2. To examine the way in which folktales illuminate the attitudes that are most helpful in meeting life’s challenges.
  3. To offer an experience of the Jungian approach to psyche.

Clinical Objectives: 

  1. To identify how unconscious “complexes” are formed. This folktale specifically illuminates the way in which a narcissistic person uses their child to secure their own sense of self, expecting the child’s life and the child’s work to be in service of the parent’s feelings of competence.
  2. To explore how the complexes that form in response to the parent’s demands at first help the child cope but in the process cut the child off from themselves, and their own sense of agency.
  3. To recognize how one “names” these destructive complexes and works toward becoming connected to themselves and their own talents, desires and competences. 

Jody Wainer is a Jungian analyst and a Licensed Independent Social Worker. She has been in private practice since 1996. In April of 2003, she was awarded a diploma in Analytical Psychology by the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian analysts. She is a graduate of the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland’s four-year post-graduate training program as well as the Intimate Systems training program. She has over 20 years of experience as a therapist. Jody is currently active in IRSJA, serving on admissions and review committees. Her thesis was The Braided Candle: The Ten Sefirot of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life As Understood Through a Jungian Psychological Lens and Their Implications for Practice. She is interested in increasing the visibility and understanding of Jungian thought, and the support it can offer our everyday lives.

Please email for more information.