The Psycho Therapeutic Mapping of a Soldier’s Suffering: A Narrative Analysis of the Grimms’ “Bearskin”


This article uses Grimms’ ‘Bearskin’ to explain the process for soldiers returning home from combat and how to integrate a warring spirit during peacetime.


The Brothers Grimm introduced into the fifth edition of Children's and Household Tales a new story, "Bearskin," that addressed the psychological suffering of soldiers after active service in combat. They took a traditional tale, "The Devil's Greenjacket," and combined it with details of a story by Grimmelshausen, changing the protagonist from a young man abandoned by his two older brothers after the death of their father to a soldier returning from war. With this revision, they spoke to two questions of soldiering in their time: how to integrate a warring spirit during peacetime and how to heal a loss of self that comes with returning home from combat. A narrative analysis of "Bearskin" makes explicit the psychological map with which the Grimms wanted every household to be familiar, a description of a soldier's process of intrapsychically recovering self and interpersonally reconnecting to society.

Full Reference

Stephenson, C. 'The psychotherapeutic mapping of a soldier's suffering: a narrative analysis of the Grimms' "Bearskin"', Journal of Military, Veteran and Family Health, 2015 1:1, 85-90.