Pinocchio

The original Pinocchio tale by Carlo Collodi is must reading.

An 1880 magazine series (Disney’s 1940 film is a betrayal of the original Italian tale), Collodi projected his feelings for his abusive parents onto the characters of the very manipulative Blue Fairy and Geppetto. In chapter XV Pinocchio is hanged in front of the Blue Fairy mansion and the motherly Fairy didn’t help him at all. The wooden puppet exclaimed Jesus-like words on the cross:

“Oh Father!, dear Father! If you were only here!” These were his last words. He closed his eyes, opened his mouth, stretched out his legs, and hung there, as if he were dead”.

The editor asked Collodi to rescue Pinocchio in the following issue of the magazine.

As a child Collodi had been tormented in a Jesuit school. Since he never settled accounts with the perpetrators Collodi later identified himself with the aggressors, hated the children, illustrated boring school textbooks for them and always lived with his manipulative “Blue Fairy” mother.

The original Le Avventure di Pinocchio is poisonous pedagogy at its worst. The parents and the school system are idealized at the expense of the child’s true self. A major bestseller, it was used to manipulate and socialize children in the early 20th century, an example of what Lloyd deMause would call “socializing mode of parenting.”

(Although Alice Miller is the obliged reference to understand “poisonous pedagogy” and ultimately Pinocchio, for the record I explain deMause’s modes of childrearing in my book.)