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The Origin of the JewsThe Quest for Roots in a Rootless Age$
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Steven Weitzman

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780691174600

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691174600.001.0001

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Thought Fossils

Thought Fossils

Psychoanalytic Approaches

(p.174) Chapter Five Thought Fossils
The Origin of the Jews

Steven Weitzman

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines the use of psychoanalysis to investigate the origin of the Jews. Psychoanalysis is described as a theory of the mind, a therapeutic practice, or a set of techniques used to diagnose and treat mental illness, not a way of exploring questions of ethnogenesis. The chapter considers whether a psychohistorical approach as practiced today can yield important insights about Jewish origins by focusing on the method articulated by Sigmund Freud in his book Moses and Monotheism. More specifically, it discusses a kind of “paleopsychology” that could take the search for the origin of the Jews beyond the documentary sources and beyond the material ruins into a prehistory preserved only as “thought fossils” buried deep in the most primal parts of the human mind. It also analyzes Freud's account of the origin of the Jews based on psychoanalysis and the credibility of his psychohistory of the Jews.

Keywords:   psychoanalysis, Jews, psychohistory, Jewish origins, Sigmund Freud, Moses and Monotheism, paleopsychology, prehistory, thought fossils

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