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Dreifuss, G. (1965). A Psychological Study of Circumcision in Judaism. J. Anal. Psychol., 10(1):23-32.

(1965). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 10(1):23-32

A Psychological Study of Circumcision in Judaism

Gusta Dreifuss

In His paper on Psychological aspects of circumcision, Hobson (1961, p. 5 f.) has given amplifications to a case presentation. I would like to deal with some additional aspects of circumcision in Judaism, as it appears in various parts of the Bible and in Jewish legend.

A dream on second circumcision

My point of departure is the following dream of a 29-year-old man:

Mrs X performs a second circumcision on my wife and myself.'

In spite of his age this man was in a transitional period from the first to the second half of life. It was accentuated by several archetypal dreams experienced before the dream above-mentioned. On the one hand, there was a danger of his giving too much emphasis to his inner life and falling back into a positive mother complex.

Mrs X was a woman who represented, for the dreamer, a spiritual aspect of femininity. I was impressed by the existence of two possible interpretations. Either the dream points to the danger that the dreamer, by being too involved with religious and spiritual values, could be ‘circumcised again’ in the sense of losing more of his masculinity and ego strength, which in fact was not yet well established. On the other hand, the second circumcision could be looked upon as an initiation into the individuation process, bringing with it transformation and sublimation of blind instinctual impulsiveness.

It is essentially a matter of evaluating the state of development of the analysand. In the case mentioned above, both interpretations were feasible.

The problem raised by this case led me to reflect on the subject of circumcision as presented in the Bible, where the interplay between these two approaches is also found.

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