Contemporary Jewry

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 3-24

First online:

A Rabbi, a Priest, and a Psychoanalyst: Religion in the Early Psychoanalytic Case History

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In the early twentieth-century psychoanalytic case history, Jewish psychoanalysts faced discursive challenges in the presentation of Jewish patients. Under the supervision and guidance of Freud, the psychoanalyst Wilhelm Stekel (1868–1940), authored case histories of a rabbi and a priest, both of whom he diagnosed with “occupational neuroses.” In this article, the author compares the case history of the rabbi (Shalom Dovber Schneersohn) with the case history of an anonymous priest. The author argues that Stekel wrote and Freud edited the case of the priest in such a way as to create a proxy for the case of the rabbi, not primarily to augment scientific claims, but because of Stekel’s and Freud’s self-conscious presentation of male Jewish hysteria to the Viennese medical establishment in the early years of psychoanalysis.


Psychoanalysis Stekel Freud