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Frank, G. (1976). The Theme of Incest in the Myth of Osiris. Ann. Psychoanal., 4:447-478.

(1976). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 4:447-478

VII Application

The Theme of Incest in the Myth of Osiris

Gerda Frank


The name of Osiris is vaguely familiar to most educated people in the Western world today. But how many, outside of the field of Egyptology, know the myth of Osiris? The twentieth century has brought about a radical shift in education. We have turned away from the traditional religious and humanistic values in order to direct most of our attention toward technology and “practical” pursuits that are regarded as more relevant. Modern man has unleashed atomic energy with its vast potential for total destruction as well as for a utopian future. He has conquered the heavens and walked on the moon. Yet man remains mortal and continues to be beset by the same anxieties that have plagued him ever since he first began his career on earth. Prominent among these anxieties is his fear of death, in all of its ramifications. “This anxiety has been controlled to a remarkable extent through a belief in a life after death that might provide everything lacking in the present one …Death was not viewed as an end, but as a transition stage having rites of passage from one stage of existence to another” (Pollock, 1975p. 336).

Clearly, humanity continues its attempts to conquer the fear of death and annihilation through consoling fantasies, which deny the finality of death. Such fantasies may go beyond the fervent adherence to religions which promise eternal life and manifest themselves by more circuitous routes in intellectual or creative productions of a utopian type.

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