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The Fisher King and the Handless Maiden: Understanding the Wounded Feeling Function in Masculine and Feminine Psychology
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The Fisher King and the Handless Maiden: Understanding the Wounded Feeling Function in Masculine and Feminine Psychology

4.15  ·  Rating Details ·  301 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
It is very dangerous when a wound is so common in a culture that hardly anyone knows there is a problem. Such is the case right now with our wounded feeling function- our inability to find joy, worth, and meaning in life. Robert A. Johnson, the celebrated author of 'He, She', and 'We', revisits two medieval tales and illuminates how this feeling function has become a casua ...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published April 15th 1995 by HarperOne (first published 1993)
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May 21, 2011 Alison rated it liked it
Robert Johnson's writing style does not grab me but this book was worth reading. I gleaned a few valuable insights about the wounding - and healing - of the masculine/feminine (such as, healing the masculine (within a man or woman) being about "heroic journey", while healing the feminine (in a man or woman) is about "solitude"). I would recommend it to those who resonate with Jungian conceptualizations and/or who have struggled with some type of gender wounding.
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 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 t
Jun 28, 2015 Lauren rated it liked it
I've read other books by Robert A. Johnson and loved them, but this one didn't work as well for me. His analysis of the Fisher King feels quite strong, but his take on the Handless Maiden didn't resonate with me. Perhaps my stumbling block is the "woman as victim" trope--a miller trades unspecified repayment for a machine that will grind his grain faster, devil returns later to claim his payment in the form of the hands of the miller's daughter. While I realized this book is simply an analysis o ...more
Mar 14, 2016 Kenzie rated it really liked it
The tales of the fisher king and the handless maiden have some real power to them, and I think I will be be mulling over the stories for a while.
I read the section on the handless maiden first, and I liked Johnson's description of the trickery of modernization. Having recently read Care of the Soul, I have been thinking about ways that slower, simpler ways of living can connect us with our soul. For Johnson, "machinations" occur on deeper levels, and not just on the physical level of technology
Robert Windsor
Sep 05, 2016 Robert Windsor rated it it was amazing
Mr Johnson makes my understanding of C.G. Jung so much clearer and my life so much more bearable. I only hope I can impart his wisdom onto others once digested. His dissecting of the two tales in relation to feelings makes so much sense. I am in awe of his wisdom.
Shavawn Berry
Jul 07, 2013 Shavawn Berry rated it it was amazing
Wow. I just loved this book. It is not only beautifully written, but its pure and haunting message resonates with me, especially during all the chaos we're experiencing in the world right now. Understanding our woundedness and being able to take the right action to heal, is critical. Symbolically, both the Fisher King and the Handless Maiden reside in each one of us, as either our masculine or feminine shadow. I will be savoring these stories and thinking about them for some time to come. To hea ...more
Jess Lehman
May 09, 2015 Jess Lehman rated it really liked it
Tons of great insight...wish someone would write a book like this in the Christian perspective.
Apr 28, 2013 Guy rated it really liked it
When I first read this I thought is was an extremely important book. It brought interesting ideas to and clarified the angst I was seeing in my own and my wife's psychological struggles. However, the last time I read it, I found it to be more like an introduction to the Jungian perspective on male/ female psychology. So, if you are new to Jung and Jung's ideas, a solid 5 stars. However, if you are familiar with Jung, this will be down a little from that, but is still a worth while read.
Jesse Winslow
Aug 13, 2010 Jesse Winslow rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book like all other R.A. Johnson books take a Jungian approach to studying ancient mythology and applying their lessons to our modern life. In this case, it's two myths and the lesson is about learning to be successful in a mechanized world without losing your anima(feminine,feeling side). The two myths are.... The Fisher King and The Handless Maiden. Some interesting points, but not really in depth as each section is only about 50 pages, but still a quick and interesting read.
Dec 03, 2008 Holly rated it really liked it
I'm half way through and I think the author has incredible insight into emotions and the English language. The English language is sadly bankrupt when it comes to describing feelings and limits our emotional experience. This leaves us wounded and unable to express ourselves to one another. It turns ours into a culture of isolation. Very well written so far. Can't wait to read the second section "The Handless Maiden".
Tricia Bertram
Oct 26, 2013 Tricia Bertram rated it really liked it
My son gave me this book many years ago. I return to it often when the missing of him becomes an ache.
The Fisher King wound is a perfect metaphor for his depression, the Handless Maiden a metaphor for my helplessness in the face of his depression.
Nov 18, 2011 Tricia rated it really liked it
This was a quick read but it is certainly not one of those books you read once and be done with it. Lots of deep ideas to think about. I really enjoyed it and enjoyed the authors writing and relating of myth to our lives.
Elizabeth Merchant
May 24, 2014 Elizabeth Merchant rated it liked it
Shelves: our-library
There's a lot of overlap between this book and "He" by the same author. I'd recommend this over reading "He" and "She" separately because the female allegory here is much stronger than the one in "She".
May 25, 2008 Sheri rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: readers interested in Jungian Psychology, symbols and dreams
Recommended to Sheri by: Nick
I enjoy reading Robert Johnson's interpretation of fables. These two fables address men & women and how we can attribute much of the tension between us to the different ways we suffer.
James M. Madsen, M.D.
Mar 08, 2008 James M. Madsen, M.D. rated it really liked it
An excellent little work, profitably read in conjunction with Bly and Woodman's The Maiden King, using mythology to illustrate masculine and feminine psychology.
Feb 03, 2008 Tanya rated it it was amazing
great book... short read, but far from easy... i want to read it again and again... very compact if you are willing to pull truth apart enough to digest it.
Oct 22, 2008 Bret rated it it was amazing
Lyrically written Jungian psychology. Who could ask for more? Johnson's analysis of myth as archetype is a necessary read for any lover of stories.
Aug 16, 2011 Brooke rated it it was amazing
This is such a good book if you're into mythology, Joseph Campbell, was spiritually moving and easy to read.
Sep 27, 2011 Mark rated it it was ok
Despite the sharp mythological focus, this book did not impact me in the way Johnson's other works have.
Apr 18, 2009 Dave rated it it was amazing
Shelves: why-am-i-here
it is always a cool way to convey a message: via the medieval tale. Johnson rocks again!
Apr 14, 2012 Rundmc rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good. Seeds for a new mythology.
Apr 28, 2008 Brenda rated it really liked it
Thinking book.
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Robert A. Johnson is a noted lecturer and Jungian analyst in private practice in San Diego, California. He has studied at the Jung Institute in Switzerland and at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in India.
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