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Niederland, W.G. (1970). Death and its Mysteries: By Ignace Lepp. New York: The Macmillan Co., 1968. 194 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 39:497-498.

(1970). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 39:497-498

Death and its Mysteries: By Ignace Lepp. New York: The Macmillan Co., 1968. 194 pp.

Review by:
William G. Niederland

The preoccupation with and meditation on death which fill the pages of this small volume are not without interest for the analytic reader. The author, described as 'both a priest and a practicing psychotherapist' in France, died in 1966. Thus the present translation, well done on the whole, is the English version of a text which seems to have been written during the author's last months or years of life. If so, Lepp's fascination with immortality, his searching concern with the 'mysteries' of an ultimate form of existence, and his attempts to discover consistent attributes of—or should I say assurances for—a life after death, would reflect not only expressions of religious conviction, but could also be viewed, analytically, in the context of the author's own struggle in the face of death and other serious problems. Certain obscure passages in the book lead one to speculate, moreover, that the author's concern with death and religion may be connected with tragic experiences, perhaps as a former Jew during the period of Nazi persecution. Only in the final chapter of his book does Lepp reveal his conversion to Catholicism 'rather than to another Christian church'. Thus, his frequent, somewhat naïvely stated and polemically toned remarks about 'unbelievers', 'atheists', 'Freemasons', 'Freudianism', acquire a special meaning, of which the author himself—not unexpectedly—seems to be entirely unaware. The why and wherefore of the conversion remain undisclosed. Unfortunately, the attacks, as undistinguished in content and form as Padre Gemelli's polemics a couple of decades ago, mar the author's attempt to investigate the problems sine ira et studio.

Lepp's theme, of course, is that man must deal with the issue of death.

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