THE JESUS OF PSYCHOANALYSIS: A Freudian Interpretation of the Gospel by

THE JESUS OF PSYCHOANALYSIS: A Freudian Interpretation of the Gospel

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Sir,"" said Dr. Johnson, speaking of Ossian, ""a man might write such stuff forever, if he would abandon his mind to it."" Dolto is a Catholic psychoanalyst who, with the help and encouragement of her colleague S‚v‚rin, has abandoned her mind to eccentric speculation on the New Testament. Her basic technique is to read gospel episodes as psychodramas, or case studies, filling in gaps in the narrative with her own imagination. Thus, Lazarus has a homosexual attachment for Jesus, and in the absence of his friend dies of an ""acute melancholic neurosis."" Jairus is ""unconsciously and incestuously"" fixated on his daughter. The widow of Nain had monopolized her son's life and ""petrified his desire into impotence."" In raising these three people from the dead, Jesus is really liberating them from oppressive relationships (or, as Dolto puts it, he offers them various kinds of salutary castration, ""urethro-anal and genital"" in the case of the widow's son). In the scene in the Temple (Lk. 2.45-52) Jesus ""castrates his parents of their possessiveness."" And so on. Whatever the accuracy of Dolto's diagnoses, the reader has to wonder where all this is leading: the book has no central thesis, and so it fails to provide the ""Freudian interpretation"" (as opposed to a casual series of interpretations) of the gospel promised in the subtitle. Like any other story about human beings the gospel can be--and has been--subjected to Freudian criticism. One may question, however, just how much positive religious insight such a critique would generate. In this instance, the answer seems to be, very little indeed.

Pub Date: Aug. 10th, 1979
Publisher: Doubleday