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Josine, J.M. (1927). Atheism in Childhood and Faulty Character-Development. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 8:521-522.

(1927). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 8:521-522

Atheism in Childhood and Faulty Character-Development

Josine Muller Josine

The patient, a woman of thirty-one years of age, had lived since her fifteenth year in a relation of complete mental dependence on a male married friend ten years her senior. This relation can be described only as that of a child of God. The patient had before this in her early childhood passed through a period marked by unresolved conflicts, by grief because as the middle child of a large family she received no attention from her parents, especially from her father, and by strong feelings of guilt. A later period was characterized by strong religious belief. The certainty that a Father really existed in whom she could confide, although he was so far off, who could make all that was impossible possible, and whose child she was without needing to have a mother, enabled her to repress her primitive infantile wishes for her father as well as her jealousy, also to love her younger brothers and sisters, and to employ her unusual talents with extraordinarily exalted self-confidence. The assurance of the existence of God was, however, seriously shaken in the years that followed. She had finally to give up her faith, although she still retained the libidinal cathexis of the God-imago as an ideal perfect father, whose apparent mistakes could be set down to his inscrutability. She once more turned her libido towards the actual father: she thought him cleverer than all other men because he had never believed in God, whereas in her former religious period she had liberated herself from the authority of her atheistic father. She now thought that she found in him a realization of the God-imago, and was thus able by reference to his inscrutability to suppress her critical faculties, which in other respects were quite notable. After his death, which took place in her thirteenth year, she accordingly made him an object of formal worship. When one of her acquaintances spoke of him reproachfully for not having made sufficient provision for his family, it sounded to her like blasphemy.

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