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Ahlskog, G. (2007). Book Reviews: A Violent God-Image: An Introduction to the work of Eugen Drew-Ermann. By Matthias Beier. New York: Continuum International Publishing, 2004, xi + 388 pp.. Psychoanal. Rev., 94(2):341-345.

(2007). Psychoanalytic Review, 94(2):341-345

Books

Book Reviews: A Violent God-Image: An Introduction to the work of Eugen Drew-Ermann. By Matthias Beier. New York: Continuum International Publishing, 2004, xi + 388 pp.

Review by:
Gary Ahlskog, Ph.D.

After years of reading about Adam and Eve, I thought I knew this story, but I was wrong. Because indoctrination and habit foster the propensity for negative hallucination, we may stare at texts like this, foundational to self-understanding in the Western world, yet fail to see what actually is being said. A misreading of Genesis will be cleared up shortly. Our field owes a debt of gratitude to Eugen Drewermann, who may be the most important thinker in the field of religion and psychoanalysis during the past century, and to Matthias Beier, who has translated and explained Drewermann's ideas in what may be the most important English book on religion and psychoanalysis during the past century.

Freud's genius in recognizing the illusion of a God-image at odds with human growth and enjoyment is not diminished merely because his interpretation is backward. The God-image Freud analyzed so astutely was indeed a projection of humanity's own narcissistic needs and oedipal conflicts. Yet as Drewermann shows, neurotic efforts to appease this God is exactly what Christianity seeks to save us from. Freud mistook a familiar paranoid misreading of the text for the text itself. He analyzed as supposedly caused by Christianity an obsessional neurosis which in actuality interferes with being able to recognize Christianity. He was hardly alone. We barely see the biblical text because of resistance fueled by fear—of exclusion, of authority, and of our own projected images of a God hostile to our happiness. The following paragraph provides a closer reading of the Fall, based on commentary from Drewermann and Beier (pp. 33-127):

Eve had to rely on Adam to understand Eden, since God delivered the groundrules to Adam before creating Eve (Gen 2: 16-22, all texts are from the New Revised Standard Version). The serpent's beguiling consists of misstating these groundrules (Gen 3:1), thereby confusing Eve as to whether she can trust that her relationship to God is intact.

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