Synopses & Reviews
Is Moses Maimonides an unacknowledged ancestor of the psychoanalytic movement? In this book, David Bakan, Dan Merkur, and David S. Weiss look at the great medieval Jewish philosopher's prescription for the cure of souls and its psychological significance. In the Guide of the Perplexed, Maimonides, who was also a physician, describes the soul's illness: when sinners rationalize evil as good, they limit their capacities to reason, imagine, and behave well, which also produces physical symptoms. The cure depends on repentance in love and fear of God that is attained through philosophical knowledge, the interpretation of dreams and visions, and mystical contemplation. The authors look at the Aristotelian background of Maimonides' psychology, Maimonidean mysticism, his beliefs about prophecy and sexuality, and what is known of Maimonides' client population. A final chapter discusses Maimonides and Freud, noting that many distinctive features of the cure of souls are shared by Freud's original formulation of psychoanalysis. Indeed, the many points of convergence suggest Freud's direct or indirect contact with Maimonides' legacy.