Psychological Reading of the Anglo-Saxon Poem Beowulf. Understanding Everything as a Story

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In unprecedented depth, Dr. Goodwyn compares clinical case studies with the powerful emotional meaning behind the symbols of the hall, the monsters, the reassures, and the final battle, and shows how a detailed study of Beowulf uncovers problems facing both ancient and modern humanity.


“He [Goodwyn] has gone deeply into the history, culture and languages of the peoples who told stories like that of Beowulf and he has come back with a treasure-trove of insights that challenge our own cultural assumptions and suggested a world far more invested with significance than the one we inhabit.”
-Dr. John R. Haule,
Jungian Analyst,
Boston, MA

“ His book is a major intellectual, spiritual, and cultural achievement, penetrating mysteries at the heart of one of the great stories of our culture…to my knowledge, no one has adopted this approach to the early English epic, Beowulf, with the same extensive research, thorough scholarship, and imaginative sensibility displayed by Erik Goodwyn.”
-Dr. Anthony Stevens,
Senior Member of the Independent Group of Analytical Psychologists, London

“The author has done us a great service by analyzing one of the greatest works of literature in our Western canon, Beowulf…by introducing clinical psychiatric material that illustrates key nodal points in Beowulf, we come to a much deeper understanding of the motivations of the author(s) of the Beowulf saga.”
-Dr. David Rottman,
President and Chairman of the Board,
C.G. Jung Foundation of New York

Table of Contents

Foreword by John R. Haule, PhD
Chapter 1:
The Uniqueness of Beowulf as a Text for Interpretation
Resonant Elements
Explanation and Justification for Method
Why Beowulf?
The Psychological aptness of Beowulf
Chapter 2: Hw?t!
The Primordial Warrior-King
Scyld Scefing
Chapter 3: Grendel – The Shadow Image Emerges
Grendel as Image of the Shadow,Destroyer And Enemy of the Hall
Beowulf Hears the Call
Clinical Example
Beowulf Enters Heorot
Chapter 4: The Challenge of Unferth and the Power of Self Doubt
Clinical Example
Beowulf’s Counter
Battle Preparations
Chapter 5: The Battle with Grendel - How to Beat The Shadow
The Opposing Forces
Chapter 6: The Needs and Consequences of Victory
Chapter 7: Enter the Anima Figures – of Gold and Death
A Word about Women, Queens, and Gender Roles
Chapter 8: Grendel’s Mother and the Destructive Anima
Societal Elements of the Anima Image
Grendel’s Mother as Dark Anima Image
The Hero Image Takes Action
Chapter 9: Drawn into the Outlands by the Anima
Chapter 10: The Battle with the Mere-Wife
Defeating The Destructive Anima
The Intervention of the Self
Beowulf’s Faithful Retainers
The Giant’s Blade
Chapter 11: Treasures and the Mystery of the Giant’s Blade
The Symbolism of the Giant’s Blade
Celebrations and Lessons
Chapter 12: Beowulf Departs for Greatland -
Beginning the Transition to Ego-Center
The Power of the Queen
The Queen’s Necklace and the Power of Kingship
Chapter 13: Treasures and Ego-Bonds
Chapter 14: Ego-Center Facing the Self – the Last Survivor
The Journey of Individuation
The Dragon’s Hoard
The Lay of the Last Survivor
The Thief
Chapter 15: The Dragon at the Threshold of the Self
At the Threshold of Death
Beowulf Ponders the Doom of the Dragon
Chapter 16: Wiglaf – the New Heroic Warrior Element
The Sword of Wiglaf
Chapter 17: Beowulf’s Dying Moments
The Glorious Treasure
The Dragon’s Treasure
Chapter 18: The Timeless Cycle Begins Again
The Messenger’s Prophecy
The Funeral Pyre
Thoughts on the Poem as a Whole
The Moral of the Story?
The Psychological Effects in Beowulf
Chapter 19: The Nine Worlds of the Psyche
Norse Mythology – the Creation of the World
The “Nine Worlds”
The V?luspá and Ragnar?k
Images of the Psyche
Chapter 20: Woden as Self Symbol
The Image of the Self Process Among the Ancient Heathens
Woden and Beowulf
Woden – Resonant Image
Woden’s Son Balder and the Eternal
Cycles of Regeneration
A Complex of Images and Antimonies
Transformations of Self Images
Developments Across Time
Chapter 21: Wyrd, Time and the Storytelling Instinct
Yggdrasil is Linked with the Well And Storytelling
Time – Different Views
How Does This Relate to Psychology?
The Power of Storytelling

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