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Tarachow, S. (1960). Judas, the Beloved Executioner. Psychoanal Q., 29:528-554.

(1960). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 29:528-554

Judas, the Beloved Executioner

Sidney Tarachow, M.D.


This essay has attempted to delineate the libidinal aspects of the Judas-Christ relationship as well as to provide clinically related phenomena. Jesus is pictured as the willing victim offering himself in love to be killed and eaten by the Jews, and by Judas in particular. Judas is pictured as loving Jesus and as being burdened by Jesus with the load of aggression, by the invitation to be the lover and ritual executioner. Various clinical and anthropological data are used to illustrate killing in the service of libido. Surrender in love is equated to being killed and eaten. The intense oral aspects of love of the dead are emphasized. The cadaver is equated with the orally giving mother who never frustrates. Ritual sacrifice or ritual murder may have further libidinal motives such as the magic renewal of life or fecundation. Jesus and Judas are pictured as the pair of scapegoats necessary to solve by projection the ambivalent problems of the Christian: Jesus for passive love, Judas for active. The relationship between the two, however, is one of identification and love, expressed in the theme of the killer and the slain. The equation of love, murder, and death is also viewed as a regression to loss of ego boundaries and reunion with mother, and also as regression to a state of antithesis and ambiguity. Various data suggest that the relationships in love-murder express the oral tie to mother and reunion with her. Our studies may have general theoretical and clinical bearing beyond the limits of this topic. Theoretically, the problems of ambivalence, instinct fusion, and especially the theory of aggression might be further scrutinized. Clinically, the approach to certain dreams and symptoms of an apparently aggressive content might develop libidinal implications of an interesting and useful nature.

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