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Kligerman, C. (1957). A Psychoanalytic Study of the Confessions of St. Augustine. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 5:469-484.

(1957). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 5:469-484

A Psychoanalytic Study of the Confessions of St. Augustine

Charles Kligerman, M.D.


After Jesus Christ and the apostles, no figure in Christian history rivals the stature of St. Augustine. In the turbulent fourth century, when the whole world seemed disintegrating, his powerful moral and intellectual leadership helped the youthful Church replace the organization of the dying Roman State. Beyond his active role in that crucial era, he left behind a monument of writings on guilt, original sin, the problem of evil, free will and predestination, which have for 1, 500 years been fundamental to Christian doctrine. Welding Christian mysticism with the most advanced classical thought of the day—chiefly Neoplatonic—he gave logical cohesion to a system which had been largely inspirational.

But Augustine did not lose the inspiration; with passionate fervor he subordinated his great intellect to a faith that stemmed from a deeply emotional, prerational, unconscious area which he attributed to God. This position was reached by Augustine only after years of inner struggle—a struggle fortunately recorded for us in his celebrated Confessions —which is the object of the present study (3).

Avowedly written to show how a poor sinner found his way to God, the Confessions are an exhaustive study of the self by one of the great minds in history. Such a self-exploration was unique in antiquity.

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