The foundations of Judaism: psychoanalytic interpretations.

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The psychological foundations of Judaism are a major challenge to psychoanalytic theory. This (selective) literature review focuses on post-Freudian work on this question. Freud described Judaism as a father religion, within the Oedipal framework of all religions and cultures. Over the years other notions have become dominant, and we can observe the changes from the Oedipal to the pre-Oedipal and towards more attention to maternal projections. Jewish mythology is a major topic, and the attention given to it bears no relation to its role in living Judaism. Many psychoanalytic contributions which aim at interpreting Judaic mythology demonstrate mostly their authors' inability to separate mythological narratives and history, as they accept without criticism the biblical account of supposedly ancient events, and then continue with speculations about mythological personages and events. The literature we have reviewed is certainly psychoanalytic, but one question is its relationship to Freud's work on religion. What emerges is that in many cases there is no attempt to follow Freud in the sense of accepting his assertions, but there is continuity in terms of interpretive temperament. Freud's writings have served as stimulus and inspiration, not as dogma to be upheld.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)200-210
Number of pages11
JournalIsrael Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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