Sondheim: "[W]e took a Jungian approach. You know, this whole thing about how we based it on Bruno is nonsense — it’s nothing to do with In fact, I don’t know if James read the book, I didn’t."
And when Sondheim was interviewed by James Lipton for the TV series , Lipton brought up Bettelheim: "There seems to be a philosophical war in that musical between the theories of Bruno Bettelheim and Jung."
Sondheim responded, "It’s interesting you say that. Everybody assumes we were influenced by Bruno Bettelheim. But if there’s any outside influence, it’s Jung. James is interested in Jung— is based on a case Jung wrote about. In fact, we spoke to a Jungian analyst about fairy tales."
"And, ah, the woods. The all-purpose symbol of the unconscious, the womb, the past, the dark place where we face our trials and emerge wiser or destroyed, a major theme in Bruno Bettelheim's The Uses of Enchantment, which is the book everyone assumes we used as a source, simply because it's the only book on the subject known to a wide public. But Bettelheim's insistent point was that children would find fairy tales useful in part because the young protagonists' tribulations always resulted in triumph, the happily ever after. What interested James was the little dishonesties that enabled the characters to reach their happy endings.
... James was also skeptical about the possibility of 'happily ever after' in real life and wary of the danger that fairy tales give children false expectations. As his play Twelve Dreams has demonstrated, he was drawn not to Bettelheim's Freudian approach but to Carl Jung's theory that fairy tales are an indication of the collective unconscious, something with which Bettelheim would be unlikely to agree. James and I talked about the fairy tales with a Jungian psychiatrist and discovered that with the exception of 'Jack and the Beanstalk,' which apparently is native only to the British Isles, the tales we were dealing with exist in virtually every culture in the world, especially the Cinderella story. African, Chinese, Native American - there is even a contemporary Hebrew version in which Cinderella wants to dance at the Tel Aviv Hilton."
"The Narrator is what the fairy tale is about. I tried telling the stories without a narrator and it just doesn't work. A story needs a storyteller, and the storyteller is the ultimate figure of authority. Originally we wanted a public figure, not an actor, to play the Narrator: Walter Cronkite, or Tip O'Neill—someone who disseminated information and points of view. Then when we got rid of him you would see that the news was now being reported by the newsmakers, not the news reporter; decisions were being made by the people, not the politicians. Ultimately, we defined our narrator as a kind of intellectual, a Bettelheim figure; I wanted to get rid of Bettelheim!"