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Millar, D. (2002). Response to Bott. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 83(2):512-514.

(2002). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 83(2):512-514

Response to Bott Related Papers

David Millar

Dear Sirs,

I am most grateful to James Bott for his interesting response to my paper on biblical myth. In my paper I make the argument that a particular pattern emerges in both the Old and New Testament myths. In this pattern, first, where the group is threatened with loss, ultimately loss of the good object, there is a to and fro movement between persecutory and more depressive anxieties. We see apocalyptic threats linked to a paranoid-schizoid state of mind, but also movement in a direction out of the omnipotent defensive organisation and concrete thinking towards greater separation from the good object. I illustrate, for example, how in the New Testament the idea of the Kingdom of God occurs in both contexts. Second, in this pattern—at a point in history where there is an experience of massive loss—there is a retreat towards a state of mind dominated by the omnipotent belief that the good object can be exclusively possessed. I argue that the Jewish post-exilic myth, with its ‘overriding virtue of close kin endogamy’ and belief in descent from Abraham, and the Jesus myth, with that group's belief that it was founded by the Son of God, can both be understood as defensive retreats from depressive anxieties with their full impact of loss and guilt. If I have understood Bott's letter correctly, he agrees with a number of the underlying hypotheses and he adds some very interesting points of his own. However, again if I understand his argument correctly, his thinking differs in significant ways from my own.

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