Move Over, Freud: Real Jewish Psychology 101

There’s a myth that Sigmund Freud, the famous ‘father’ of modern psychology, was the first Jew who ever managed to start working out that human beings have a whole subconscious thing going on. Freud started speculating about ‘ego’ and ‘id’ and a bunch of other now discredited theories about what was causing emotional and mental issues in people, and voila, he was lauded for the better part of a century for his amazing (yet completely unproven…) insights into the human character.

But here’s the ironic thing: while the secular—but Jewish—Freud got a lot of the credit for putting psychology on the map, authentic Judaism has been teaching people about how to deal with their subconscious inner struggles for centuries.

Pick up pretty any book on Jewish self-development (known as ‘mussar’ in the original Hebrew) and you’ll find hundreds of references to the fact that people are created with two distinct, and opposing sides to their personalities. On the one hand, we have what’s called the inclination for good, (or the ‘Yetzer HaTov’, in Hebrew); and then we have the ‘Yetzer HaRa’, aka the Evil Inclination.

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Author: Rivka Levy

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Bible reference(s): Matthew 4:1-11, Matthew 6:13, Mark 1:13, Luke 11:4, Luke 4:2-13, John 8:44, John 13:2, Acts 5:3, Romans 5:21, Romans 7:17-24, 1 Corinthians 7:5, 2 Corinthians 12:7, 2 Corinthians 11:14, Galatians 1:4, Ephesians 4:27, Ephesians 6:11, Ephesians 6:16, 1 Thessalonians 3:5, 1 Timothy 3:6-7, 2 Timothy 2:26, Hebrews 2:14, James 4:7, 1 John 2:13-14, 1 John 3:8, 1 John 3:10, 1 John 3:12, 1 John 5:18-19, Matthew 5:18, Revelation 20:10

Source: “Move Over, Freud: Real Jewish Psychology 101,” beliefnet.

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