The Power Of The Grimm Brothers' Collection Of Folktales with Allan G. Hunter, Ph.D.

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Fairytales have given pleasure and delight for centuries, and ultimately many of them have been a source of wisdom for generations of people, who had no psychology textbooks to reference, and no certified therapists to consult. However, in recent decades we’ve “Disneyfied” them and assimilated commercialized versions, while the real tales ­full of wisdom ­remain unread. The collection of tales by the Grimm brothers deal with some very murky human passions, and they hold the possibility of a productive way of being, on the other side of difficulty. In the early 1800s, the Grimm brothers carefully wrote down stories from itinerant storytellers, who were basically an endangered species and dying out. Being academics, they recognized the power of these folktales and understood they shouldn’t be lost. Hunter points out, “We can’t get to that real wisdom if we don’t get back to the original tales and see how very different they are from Disney’s wonderful, but saccharin and sucrose versions. We need to get back to the originals or we lose that wisdom.” (hosted by Justine Willis Toms)


Born in England in 1955, Allan G. Hunter gained his degrees at Oxford University, emerging with a doctorate in English Literature in 1983. He is a therapist and, for the past 20 years, a professor of literature at Curry College in Massachusetts. His work as a therapist led to uncovering the presence of the six archetypes in literature.

He is the author of:

To learn more about the work of Allan G. Hunter go to

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • Why the Grimm Brothers folktales stand out as a collection
  • What does magic represent in the Germanic folktales
  • What is the “un-Disneyfied” story of Cinderella and its significance
  • Why Grimm’s tales are often disturbing
  • How these are healing tales for the community and society, both then and now
  • How the Frog Prince story is one of empowerment for women
  • What does the ugly toad stand for psychologically in folktales

Host: Justine Willis Toms   Interview Date: 1/11/2011   Program Number: 3394