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Meyerson, B.G. Stollar, L. (1962). Note: A Psychoanalytical Interpretation of the Crucifixion. Psychoanal. Rev., 49D(4):117-118.

(1962). Psychoanalytic Review, 49D(4):117-118

Note: A Psychoanalytical Interpretation of the Crucifixion

Bernard G. Meyerson and Louis Stollar

The psychoanalytic meaning of geometric symbols has been explored in detail by Freud and others. This note will attempt to explain the unconscious meaning of one of the most significant symbols in western civilization, the cross, and its relation to the crucifixion.

What is the meaning of the cross? To most people it is the symbol of Christianity and the crucifixion. Certainly this is true, but we contend that the cross has much greater meaning.

Let us ask the reader to look at the cross. What image does it bring to mind? The proportions, the general configuration closely resembles the form of a man with arms outstretched. What then is the significance of a man with arms outstretched? If we were to encounter such a man, would we think that he were about to strike us or that he were recoiling from us or more likely that he were about to embrace us? From our knowledge of human figure drawings we can say that this kind of figure would be interpreted as being tender, warm, affectionate, ready to embrace—ready to love. Thus it is clear why the cross, the symbol of love, has become the symbol of Christianity, the religion of love.

What if you were the kind of person who was terrified by love? You would attempt to destroy this love, or the object which symbolizes it. The cross can be destroyed in a variety of ways, for example, by fire—the burning cross of the Ku Klux Klan, a symbol of hate.

A priest was once asked by an acquaintance of one of the authors, “Why did Christ die?” The priest replied, “Because he was the most loving man that ever lived.” That Christ was a loving individual seems to be well documented by the New Testament.

Psychoanalysis has taught us that one of the central problems confronting mankind today is the inability to love.

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