The Birth of the Living God, Rizzuto

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Title: The Birth of the Living God: A Psychoanalytic Study

Author: Ana-Maria Rizzuto, M.D.

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Utilizing both clinical material based on the life histories of twenty patients and theoretical insights from the works of Freud, Erikson, Fairbairn, and Winnicott, Ana-Maria Rizzuto examines the origin, development, and use of our God images. Whereas Freud postulated that belief in God is based on a child's idea of his father, Rizzuto argues that the God representation draws from a variety of sources and is a major element in the fabric of one's view of self, others, and the world.


1. Introduction 3

  • The advantages of the clinical method for dealing with these most private and secret experiences are many: (1) it permits the analyst to use the patient's vocabulary to understand the historical roots of his belief, (2) it deals with the patient as a concrete historical being in the hear and now, (3) it deals with patient's experience as it is happening, (4) it permits the use of hermeneutics applied to the internal consistency of the patient's life history, relations with primary objects, relation to God, and the context of the present, and (5) it permits us to understand the private God of each person in its particularity.
  • Empirical studies can help us generalize some findings by statistical validation. ... Such conclusions, however, not only lack clinical specificity but they may be deleterious to good clinical work if applied indiscriminately. A statement. for example, that "the findings of a relationship between the image of God and the image of the opposite-sex or preferred parent lend support to the notion that the deity is a projected love-object" may be statistically correct, but it does not do justice to large numbers of patients who have very complex and painful relations with their Gods.

2. Freud 13

3. Beyond Freud 41

4. The Representations of Objects and Human Psychic Functions 54

5. Introduction to the Clinical Research 87

6. A God Without Whiskers 93

7. A God in the Mirror 109

8. God, the Enigma 130

9. God, My Enemy

10. Conclusions 177

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Bibliographic info

ISBN: 978-0226721026 Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; New edition edition (March 15, 1981)