The fisher king and the handless maiden : understanding the wounded feeling function in masculine and feminine psychology

by Robert A. Johnson

Book, 1993



Call number


Call number



[San Francisco, Calif.] : HarperSanFrancisco, c1993.

Physical description

103 p.; 21 cm

Local notes

In the tradition of Annie Dillard and Natalie Goldberg, this resource for writers and non-writers alike shows the act of writing to be a dynamic means of knowing, healing, and creating the body, mind, and spirit.

User reviews

LibraryThing member Mary_Overton
Jungian psychologist Robert A. Johnson explores two wonder tales for how they describe “our wounded feeling function, probably the most common and painful wound which occurs in our Western world.” pg. 3

“The Fisher King,” an Arthurian romance
pg. 34:
“Probably the worst [psychic] pain ever
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experienced is the self-inflicted suffering that has no cure outside one’s self. … To live in affluence, have everything one ever dreamed of having, success and ownership beyond the kings of earlier times, but to find all of this ashes in one’s mouth is the particular kind of existential suffering that is the lot of modern fisher kings. This is stated eloquently in the symbol of the fisher king being lord of the Grail castle and having the Grail immediately before him — but being unable to touch it.”

pg. 46:
“Carl Jung … said that the meaning of life is to relocate the center of gravity of the personality from the ego to the Self. …
“This requires a Copernican revolution to relocate the center of the universe from the ego to the Self. And that revolution is as painful in our personality as the Copernican revolution was in history.”

“The Handless Maiden,” a fairy tale
pg 56:
“Though much of the story revolves around men, it is not only men but also ‘masculinity’ that is being described as the villain. Certainly, we have a long history of the subjection of women under the domination of men. But the problem is equally difficult in the tyranny that the masculine side of a woman exerts over her often helpless femininity. Marion Woodman once said in one of our joint lectures that the animus in a woman (the masculine component of a woman’s psychology) can be as great a tyrant as any man.”

pg. 69:
“There is nothing wrong with the material dimensions of our mechanical devices …. but a mechanical view of life is wrong and extracts the feeling price. If an excess of ‘things’ in life is eroding away one’s peace, it is the attitude that is wrong, not the things. Trickery as attitude always involves getting something and refusing to pay the human, direct price for it.”
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