Archive for the ‘Mythology’ Category

The First Psychologist?

September 16, 2009

I really wish that the Joseph Campbell Foundation had RSS feeds.  I forget about them for months and then realize there has been a treasure trove accumulating.

When we think of psychology, the first person that usually comes to mind is Sigmund Freud.  This is natural; Freud is considered the father of modern psychology.  While many of Freud’s theories have been dismissed as being non-scientific and unverifiable by the scientific method, his work is largely responsible for the discipline of psychology as we know it today.  We still talk about defense mechanisms and concepts like the ‘self’ in psychology classes and at dinner parties…at least dull dinner parties.

When we think of Buddhism, at least here in the West, we think of a religion.  We may conjure up images of a 50’ tall golden statue of a Buddha deep in a Vietnamese jungle or the plight of His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama living in exile.  The images seem foreign and other-worldly.  We attempt to understand Buddhism from our Western viewpoint which is, for the most part, incorrect.  Relatively few Buddhists “worship” The Buddha.  Rather, Buddhism offers ways in which we may learn about reality without being asked to accept the idea of a god, dogmatic belief systems, or the teachings of any one individual.  For these and other reasons I will discuss, Buddhism more closely resembles Western psychotherapy than any Western concept of religion.

Unsurprising news for students of Joseph Campbell

September 15, 2009

But fairy tales have ancient origins.

They have been told as bedtime stories by generations of parents, but fairy tales such as Little Red Riding Hood may be even older than was previously thought.

A study by anthropologists has explored the origins of folk tales and traced the relationship between varients of the stories recounted by cultures around the world.

The researchers adopted techniques used by biologists to create the taxonomic tree of life, which shows how every species comes from a common ancestor.

Dr Jamie Tehrani, a cultural anthropologist at Durham University, studied 35 versions of Little Red Riding Hood from around the world.

Whilst the European version tells the story of a little girl who is tricked by a wolf masquerading as her grandmother, in the Chinese version a tiger replaces the wolf.

In Iran, where it would be considered odd for a young girl to roam alone, the story features a little boy.