L. Szondi

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The Latin Section

I sin Der Berufsbilder-Test. Seine Anwendung in der Berufs- und Laufbahn-beratung-einde einführung (1987) ger achtnich en introduktion till en ganska osofisikerad användning av testet, som kan ge en hel del information i yrkes-valspreocessen. en mer avanc CHAPTER SIX: ORIGIN OF GOOD AND EVIL ( Book pages 109 – 149)

CHAPTER SIX: ORIGIN OF GOOD AND EVIL ( Book pages 109 – 149)

Page 109

I. Cain and Abel

At the center of the analysis of destiny stands the Cain complex, which is condensed from the story of Cain and Abel in Genesis Chapter Four of the Old Testament. The Cain complex is defined as the son who hates the brother and loves the father. The respective relationships are reversed for the daughter.

References to Cain are scattered throughout Szondi’s writings. He typically cites Cain as the symbol of law-breaking, violence, killing, or evil. The most systematic treatment of this biblical figure may be found in his

book entitled Cain, Forms of Evils (Kain, Gestalten des Bosen), which Szondi published in his later period (1969). Only one translation has been published, and that is in Spanish (1975a). A shorter version of Szondi’s interpretation of the Cain story appears in one English language essay (1964). Two of my works contain interpretations of the Cain complex, one psychoanalytically-oriented, the other theological (Hughes

1979, 1982b).

Szondi’s study of the Cain story is shaped by literary, linguistic, and clinical sources. The principal literary sources are the Law or Torah of the Old Testament, Jewish mythologies and legends known as the Haggadah, and selected Medieval Kabbalistic texts. Because of his reliance upon law and legend, Halakhah and Haggadah, Szondi stands in the tradition of Rabbinic Judaism. He also views Cain as a pivotal figure in the three monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Cain and Abel are mythic figures who represent semi-nomadic or sedentary tool-making cultures and pastoral, nomadic peoples, respectively. One function of the story is to describe the age-old conflict between these two ways of life, particularly the blood feuds and tribal wars of ancient groups. By the end of the Stone Age, the tool-maker or smith had



become an alien and threatening figure in the eyes of pastoral peoples (Gaster 1969, 51-52). The smith works with mysterious, metallic sub stances, which can be turned into weapons.

In the Old Testament the Cain story belongs to the old epic writing, known as the J strand, which was compiled about 950 B.C.E. The J strand represents Judea or the southern tradition of ancient Israel. The editor(s) of the J strand shaped the story of Cain and Abel into an epic struggle between Cain the farmer and Abel the shepherd. Other functions of the story are to account for the origins of civilization and for the worship of God or Yahweh among the Kenites, the so-called descendants of Cain.

Szondi derives the name Cain from the Hebrew root “kana,” which means both “created by God” and “acquired through a purchase.” These meanings imply procreation and acquisition, two qualities central to Szondi’s psychological portrayal of Cain. He also acknowledges that in Aramaic Cain means “smith” (1964).

The root meanings of procreation and acquisition are implied in the biblical narration of the birth of Cain: “I have produced a man with the help of the Lord” (Gen.4:1). Although the Bible governs Szondi’s inter pretation, he cites an haggadic text, stating that Cain is conceived by Samael, the evil angel of Satan, and that Cain’s birth is revealed in a heavenly countenance (1969,20). Samaci is the principal name of Satan in Judaism but, beginning with the Targum Jonathan (Gen. 3:6), is identified as the angel of death in later literature. This implies that the fatherhood of Adam begins not with the birth of Cain, but with that of Abel.

Assigning Cain’s paternity to Satan alleviates humankind of respon sibility for evil. Yet it creates uncertainty as to who the actual father of Cain is, Is it the evil Samaci or is it God, whose help Eve claims in the birth? Still other sources make both Cain and Abel sons of Satan, as does the Zohar, for example, the principal text of Kabbalah. Whatever the version, the intent of the myth is to ground good and evil in a pre-personal, primal depth of being.

Szondi, however, favors the biblical view of Cain and Abel as the sons of Adam and Eve. His intent is to say that Cain and Abel, by virtue of their descent, are of mixed ancestry. They are capable of both good and evil, as are their parents. So whether Eve conceives of Cain by Samael or by means of God’s help, she has an inclination to both good and evil. Employing genetic metaphors, Szondi describes Adam and Eve, Cain and



Abel, as heterozygotes and not “pure blood” homozygotes. They are all

heterozygous for good and evil.

Szondi goes on to say that Cain and Abel are married, according to most sources. One exception is that in Christian texts Abel is not married, because he serves as a prototype for the celibate Jesus. Since there are no other families on earth, the brothers’ wives must be their sisters, more precisely, their twin sisters. Such marriages would ordinarily violate the prohibition against incest in the Mosaic Law (Lev. 18:9; 20:17). However, the Haggadah grants an exception; incest is permitted as an act of grace, so that humankind can be procreated. Similarly, inbreeding is present in the story of Jacob and Esau, which reflects that of Cain and Abel, since Jacob is a shepherd and Esau a hunter (Gen. 25:27). Both Jacob and Esau, the sons of Isaac, marry their cousins (Gen. 28:9; 29:15-30).

Reflecting on the human conditions lying behind the text, Szondi finds that the marriage of brothers and sisters indicates the flexibility of the incest taboo in early societies (1969,35). For example, we have discussed the fact, in chapter one, that the island cultures of the Pacific maintain a unilateral incest taboo within a matriarchal tribal organization. They also permit first cousin marriages as a way to maintain the status for the son within the matriarchy. Biblical society resembles this to a certain extent, except that it is patriarchal. So Cain and Abel are sons of the father, and they marry whomever the father designates as permissible. Further, the marriage of Cain and Abel to their twin sisters reflects the psychological fact of incestuous attraction between male and female identical twins, as demonstrated in Szondi’s family studies (1978, 144-147).

According to the story, Cain and Abel present their first-fruit offerings to God (Gen. 4:3-4). Abel gives a portion of his flock, but Cain’s is not identified. God accepts Abel’s offering and rejects Cain’s. No reason is stated in the Bible for God’s action. In light of biblical culture, Cain’s offering ought to be accepted, since he is the firstborn son. As a result of God’s rejection, “Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell” (Gen. 4:5b). Unable to master his anger, as God counsels, Cain accompanies his brother Abel into the field and slays him.

Szondi discusses at length the psychology of Cain’s crime. He identifies hatred and envy as the basic motives, as disclosed in the following haggadic passage: “Hatred and envy burned in Cain’s soul, because his offering was not accepted” (1969, 27). Two other motives are identified, following the



haggadic portrayal of the brothers’ wives. We read in the Bible that Adam “had other sons and daughters” (Gen. 5:4b). How many daughters did Adam have? According to the Book of Jubilees (4:1, 8, 10) he had two daughters or twin sisters of the two brothers, while an haggadic source identifies three daughters or twins. In any case, Cain murders Abel to possess his wife, who is the most beautiful woman; or Cain murders Abel because the latter has two wives and the former only one. Thus, we find the additional motives of sexual jealousy and greed (Szondi 1969, 24, 27). Szondi’s insight conforms to the general rabbinic portrait of Cain as a man of jealousy and greed (Jew. Ency. III: 493).

After the murder, God looks for Abel and asks Cain where he is. Cain replies: “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen. 4:9). Szondi understands Cain’s answer to be one of deception. God then realizes what Cain has done. The blood of Abel cries out for revenge and soaks the earth. Cain laments: “My punishment is greater than I can bear” (Gen. 4:13). He fears he will be hidden from the face of God, become a fugitive and wanderer upon the earth, and be murdered by anyone.

Underlying the story is a specific view of nature which is common to the Old Testament and to primal religion. Nature is conceived as a whole, so that physical actions have psychic correlates. The shedding of blood arouses fascination and horror, because blood is the bearer of life. In the case of homicide a residue of life in the blood calls for retaliation.

This synthetic view of nature entails an “act-fate synthesis” (Koch 1955). This means that actions, whether good or evil, reverberate outward from the actor to the community and then rebound back upon the actor. The resonance of act and effect presupposes a social network of internal relationships, in which persons mutually participate in the lives of one another. The act-fate synthesis binds human and physical nature in a relationship, as attested in the creation narrative, according to which humankind (Adam) is formed from the ground (Adamah) (Gen. 2:7).

The horror of the story is that the bond between humankind and earth is shattered by the shedding of blood. Consequently, the ground loses its fertility and becomes a desert, alien and threatening, a zone of death. Cain is filled with dread, since he can no longer farm the land. His fate is to become a homeless wanderer on the desert, where being alone means one is as good as dead.



In Szondi’s reading Cain is emotionally disturbed. He is neither sadistic, depressive, nor psychotic. His hatred, anger, envy, and jealousy have intensified to the point of killing. These homicidal emotions have triggered, as effects, anxiety over punishment, instability, and endless flight (Szondi 1969, 28). This affective act-fate synthesis is implicated in the Hebrew term for punishment (Ayon), which means both subjective guilt and objective punishment.

Although Cain fears he will be murdered, as he wanders across the face of the earth, God declares: “Not so! Whoever kills Cain will suffer a sevenfold vengeance” (Gen. 4:15a). God places on Cain a sign, so that no one would kill him. The sign is a mark, representing the ancient practice of branding cattle and reflecting the mysterious sacral quality of the smith (Gaster 1969, 56).

The sign of Cain is central to Szondi’s psychology and ethics. He interprets it as an ethical idea, a normative principle intended to prohibit any further killing (1969, 36-37). His view has the virtue of representing the intent of the text, namely, to show that God spares Cain’s life; God pardons him, in effect. God’s action implies that the shedding of blood, which normally dictates a revenge murder, becomes an act of expiation.

The sign functions as a taboo, marking off a sphere of protection lasting for seven generations, which is the meaning of the phrase “sevenfold vengeance.” In Christian and Jewish history the sign has been portrayed as a horn on the forehead. Szondi accepts this image of the horn as symbolically significant for two reasons (1969, 36). One is that Moses, who committed crimes of passion, has been portrayed with a horn on his forehead and the other is that the horn is a sacred object in the Old Testament. The horn comes from the sacrifice of a bull, which occurs during the ceremony of ordination of priests, when sacrifices are made on altars with horns (Ex. 29:12). In the ancient world this type of blood ritual was found only in the Sinai tradition and, therefore, it was uniquely Mosaic (Weinfeld 1989, 104-105).

This line of thought differs from that of another scholar, who argues that the sign as a horn represents the bestial nature of its bearer (Mellinkoff 1981, 61). This argument resembles the popular idea of the sign as a stigma or curse. Such a notion presupposes the belief that Cain rebels from God and is punished for his crimes. The punitive image of



the sign is, however, post-biblical, since it does not fit the intent of the


After receiving the sign, Cain leaves the presence of God and journeys east of Eden. His wife bears him a son named Enoch. Cain builds the first city and names it after his son. Following the construction of the first city, the story presents a tribal genealogy, comprising seven genera tions of Adam, Cain, Enoch, Irad, Mehujael, Methushael, and Lamech (Gen. 4:17-22). This genealogy is characterized by a linear rather than a branching descent, and it posits a single ancestor as the progenitor of the tribe.

Implied in the genealogy is the fact that Cain dies. There are three mythic sources for the death of Cain: (1) his house falls upon him (Jub. 4:13); (2) he perishes in the flood (Test. Benj. 12:7); or (3) he is killed by Lamech. The third is haggadic, and it has joined the tradition of the sign of Cain as a bestial horn, becoming the dominant view in modern times. The haggadic interpretation is consistent with Szondi’s psychology.

In the genealogy Lamech has two wives, Adah and Zillah, who bear him three sons and one daughter. Adah gives birth to Jabal and Jubal, Zillah to Tubal-Cain and his sister Naamah. Jabal is the ancestor of shepherds, Jubal that of musicians, and Tubal-Cain that of smiths.

In the Haggadah Lamech is a blind hunter, who hunts with the aid of his son. One day he goes hunting, and his son sees something horned in the distance. He positions his father so as to shoot the arrow accurately. The shot hits the target. As they walk toward the body, the son cries out that it is human not animal and that a horn is on the forehead. Immediately Lamech realizes that he has murdered his ancestor Cain; so in anguish he throws his hands together and inadvertently kills his son. Lamech shouts that if Cain be protected sevenfold, then he would be seventy sevenfold. Lamech’s boast is the “Song of the Sword” (Gen. 4:23-24), celebrating an unconsciously driven reign of killing and lasting seventy-seven generations, a virtually unlimited span of time.

The vocations of Lamech’s sons represent the tripartite origins of civilization from the standpoint of nomadic tribes. The three vocations of the shepherd, musician, and smith complement Cain’s role as the ancestor of those who build cities (I Sam. 30:29). The tribal context is partly nomadic, partly sedentary. Inherent in the tribal genealogy is typological thinking, which is common to primal religion. Primitive thought posits



prototpyes that recur in subsequent generations of individuals with

ceaseless rhythms of creation and recreation (Johnson 1988, 13).

The descendants of Cain are known as the Cainites. They repeat the homicidal intention of Cain as a typology. The intent of the J strand is to narrate how evil spreads by means of the Cainites and that outside paradise primevel history is a succession of fall, fratricide, and vengeance (von Rad 1961, 108). The Cainites have a connection with the Kenites, an ancient nomadic tribe related to the Midianites. The Kenites were friendly with the Hebrew tribes, intermarried with them, and worshipped Yahweh. First Chronicles (2:55) even links the Kenites to the Rechabites, who were also devotees of Yahweh (Jer. 35).

Szondi acknowledges the theological interpretation of the J strand and distinguishes sharply between the Cainites and the Kenites (1969, 38). He defines the Cainites as all those who carry psychologically the homicidal intent of Cain, but in one essay he erroneously calls the Kenites the Canaanites (1964, 52). While Szondi’s distinction is correct, it should not be pushed too far. Cainite genealogy was apparently closely related to the tradition of the Kenites (Num. 24: 21-22; Jgs. 4:11). Thus, the combined Cainite and Kenite tradition comprises a self-contained literary unit (Johnson 1988, 11).

In the final compilation of the Mosaic Law after the Babylonian Exile, the J strand was reworked by the Priestly writing. This fact further illumines the conflict between Cain and Abel in the haggadic tradition (Szondi 1969, 32). The field, where Cain slays Abel, serves as the site of the First Temple in Jerusalem. The murder is the prototype of the blood sacrifice performed by the priests in the temple. This presupposes the belief that Abel’s offering had been a blood sacrifice and that Cain’s murder had, in fact, become a blood sacrifice as well. When the prophets began to criticize temple religion as corrupt, they proclaimed that its destruction would be the punishment by God as a consequence of human sin. For example, Micah announced (ca., 750 B.C.E.): “Therefore because of you Zion shall be plowed as a field; Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins, and the mountain of the house a wooded height” (3:12).

Finally, Szondi interprets the tribal genealogy of the Cainites as the bearer of ancestral memories. There are ancestral traces, lying dormant in the familial unconscious that erupt in times of crisis. The emergence of unconscious psychic traces corresponds mythically to the return of the



ancestor. Such typological thinking gives rise to genetic metaphors, which are useful in explaining the negative traits of the ancestors that are conferred upon the descendants. Generations of inbreeding facilitate the manifestation of lethal and latent recessive genes. This is not to use primitive mythic thinking as biological evidence but to provide comple mentary genetic metaphors to amplify unconscious dynamics. Thus, by analogy the Cainites, through several generations of inbreeding, become homozygous recessive with respect to the homicidal intent of their ancestor


The vocations of Lamech’s sons illustrate the symbolic functions of genotropism and sublimation in the myth. Shepherds, musicians, and smiths can be derived from paroxysmal heredity. Lamech’s blindness symbolizes the absence of insight and self-consciousness, which would censor violent unconscious impulses. Cain’s building the first city exemplifies an introjective ego phase as well as a passionate greed.

In summary, the profile of Cain is quite complex. He suffers a need for acceptance by the father and by God-The-Father. As a defense of God’s rejection of his offering, Cain reacts with crude, primitive emotions as a need for vindication. The murder intensifies this need to the point of violent display of self-worth. After committing the crime, the need for self-worth becomes that of deception, followed by the self-concealing impulse of guilt and dread of punishment. The latter tendency continues in the subsequent instability and restlessness.

The murder discharges the paroxysmal-epileptoid root factor and the deception, guilt, and fear the paroxysmal-hysteroid. To these primary motivations may be added contributing factors. The need for acceptance is manic, desire for Abel’s wife and aggression sexual, and the greed an introjective ego phase. Ego instability is also illustrated by the initial despondency and the decision to kill as negativist. Projection informs the deceptive question: “Ani I my brother’s keeper?”

II. Cain Politics

The mythic story of Cain and Abel expresses a fundamental impulse toward killing in human experience. Everyone is capable of slaying the brother, both now and in primeval times. With this fact in mind Szondi begins his book with a provocative assertion: “Cain rules the world” (1969,



7). Anyone who doubts this should read the histoiy of the world, he suggests.

Szondi’s contention, so reminiscent of St. Augustine’s theory of histoiy, grows out of his own experience of radical evil. He explains that in times of rapid social change persons like Cain can obtain political power and mobilize a latent homicidal intent in the masses. Such a situation may be justified by an extreme nationalistic ideology which turns into a delusion. Ideology is a form of delusion which, in opposition to religious faith, distorts reality projectively, splitting the world into the pure and impure, and exhibiting rigid either-or thinking. Out of an extreme need for vindication a people becomes aroused and commits mass atrocities. Aggression is discharged as an end in itself, without moving toward restitution. The twentieth century is an arena, in which Cain political ideology has ruled without restitution. The primary example has been Nazism.

Having lived through the Hungarian Counter Revolution, Szondi presents a model in the case of Martin Zoldi, a 55 year old chief of police (1969, 61). As a child, Zoldi suffered epileptic seizures. In his political career he was regarded as a self-sacrificing patriot, who pursued his enemies relentlessly and sadistically. During the Nazi era in Hungary, Zoldi had responsibility for investigating political activities in the southern part of the country. Without any explicit order, he acted on his own to exterminate more than a thousand Serbs and Jews, for which he was honored as a hero. However, at the end of the Nazi period, Zoldi was arrested and executed as a war criminal.

Zoldi was sexually disturbed. Psychoanalytically, he was fixed on a pre-genital, polymorphously perverse, infantile stage. He engaged in sadomasochistic, anal sadistic, bisexual, and exhibitionist activities. Zoldi belonged to a club of sexual perverts that carried out mutual whippings. He wanted to sublimate his sexual tendencies through service to the fatherland. Hence, out of his masochism his patriotic service became a personal sacrifice.

Zoldi also felt persecuted personally. Sublimating his paranoid delusions into his work as police chief, he believed that the Serbian and Jewish minorities were a threat to the country. By means of Fascist public policy he imposed his bestial sadism upon his victims. When acting like



Cain the killer, his religious tendencies receded into the background. When hiding his Cain nature, he displayed himself as a humble ascetic.

Clinically, Zoldi was a perverted, paranoid Cain personality. Through out his life the Cain intent took several forms. Beginning in epilepsy, it later mixed with sadism and paranoia, which together blocked any ability to make restitution, and then finally it culminated in superpatriotism and mass murder. Before his execution by hanging, he was filled with death anxiety and religious delusions. Both delusion and ideology arose from the same source as does religious faith, namely, the need for spiritual participation beyond the threat of death. Because they do not achieve genuine participation, neither delusion nor ideology can escape the dread of death, Thus, the Cain personality has many faces, which change periodically into delusion and ideology to fit social conditions. Whatever form the Cain intent assumes, one can never be free until resolving it at the level of faith.

III. Cain Pathologies

The vision of history as a struggle between Cain and Abel presupposes a specific origin of good and evil, namely, the fundamental biological capacity for startle, for a spontaneous discharge of emotion as a defense against shock. This is manifest in the paroxysmal-epileptiform seizure pattern, which Szondi has developed. The term paroxysmal derives from the Greek infinitive paroxunein, which means “to urge on,” “stimulate,” “provoke to anger,” or “irritate.” The term epileptiform derives from the Greek deponent verb epilarnbanornai, which means “to lay hold of,” “grasp,” or “catch.”

When linked together, the terms designate a two-fold seizure pattern. In the first, coarse primitive emotions accumulate and become pent-up. The specific affects are anger, rage, hatred, vengeance, envy, and jealousy; they are called the Cain emotions. In the second, these Cain emotions, having intensified to a lethal peak, explode in a seizure, in a sudden attack that lowers the threshold of consciousness and forces the muscular system into involuntary stereotypic patterns.

The seizure varies in intensity and object relatedness. The emotional discharge may turn into a killing attack, directed either at the self or another person. This is the Cain intent. With decreasing intensity, the



outburst may go towards inanimate targets or, in the absence of outlets, may assume the form of pathological symptoms or behavioral patterns. At its most intense peak the seizure expresses, metaphorically, the need to kill. With less intense attack states pent-up emotions seek vindication or restitution.

The dual seizure pattern culminates in a third phase, which is, properly speaking, that of restitution. This is a need that is satisfied by the Abel tendency. After the seizure, one feels remorse and wants to make amends so as to complete the natural moral cycle. Altogether this three-fold paroxysmal pattern functions in a cyclical manner, alternating between Cain and Abel phases in search of meaning and value in experience. This natural pattern is both lawful and ethical.

We must recognize that this natural moral cycle may, on occasion, be broken. When paranoia and/or sadism dominate, for example, the movement toward atonement does not happen. With the blocking of the restitution need homicidal outbursts become manic, aggressive ends in themselves. Cruelty, lust, and sheer domination take place. This involves a Cain psychopathology, and it is characterized by the absence of conscience, the projection of guilt and anxiety onto others, and the inability to sustain relationships (Szondi 1952, 360).

The paroxysmal-epileptiform pattern involves a broad continuum of various manifestations and psychic equivalents. At one end of the continuum stands murder as an extreme possibility. At the other end stands a group of pathologies identified by the attack syndrome. One of the most common cluster of attack sicknesses, serving as a psychic equivalent of the Cain intent, is the so-called Szondi triad: epilepsy, migraines, and stuttering. These have their own unique seizure phases and they follow recessive genetic patterns.

The classical paroxysmal syndrome is epilepsy, particularly the temporal lobe type. Epilepsy is a broad and complex term, referring to several varieties, such as grand mal and petit mal seizures, absences, narcolepsy, and pyknolepsy, which brings on a short lapse of consciousness without absences but with rhythmic bodily movements (Szondi 1969, 55). Behavior ally, temporal lobe epilepsy features emotional lability, including extremes of anger and hyperethical or hyperreligious furor. The temporal lobe epileptic tends to lack sexual interest or arousal, is ponderous or serious,



verbose, adhesive or perseverative, and may get paranormal insights into another world (Blumer 1984, xi).

Understanding epilepsy represents one of the major endeavors of modern medicine as well as one of the major controversies. At issue is the question of specialization, involving psychiatry and neurology. Modern neurology arose in the nineteenth century, when Hughlings Jackson observed the autopsy of his deceased patient known as Dr. Z. Jackson concentrated on brain lesions and the neuro-chemical layer of the organism, thereby founding neurology as a mechanistic science. Jackson ignored the biography of Dr. Z., thus promoting a split between neurology and psychiatry, a dichotomy that has remained until the present day.

Recently, two British scholars identified Dr. Z. as Arthur Myers, a London physician, and life-long bachelor who died by suicide at the age of 42 (Taylor and Marsh 1980). He was the brother of Frederic Myers, the eminent Cambridge classics scholar who pioneered the development of the scientific studies of psychic ability. Arthur Myer’s biography clearly illustrates characteristics common to temporal lobe epileptics (Blumer 1984, 24-25). He was disciplined, good-natured, occasionally irritable, celibate, and interested in the supernatural. His mode of death is highly significant, since the suicide rate of temporal lobe epileptics is 25% higher than that for the general population.

Meanwhile, neurology has flourished, particularly after 1929 when the EEG was introduced to map brain waves precisely. Advances in the neurological study of epilepsy made possible the description of the brain as a tripartite hierarchy of the cerebral cortex, midbrain, and brain stem (Penfield 1975). These advances have been complemented by successful treatment of epileptics through hospitalization and anti-convulsant drugs. Progress in neurology has led to the belief that convulsions no longer occur and that the three-fold paroxysmal pattern of epilepsy is obsolete.

Research in neurology presupposes the prevailing subject-object orientation of modern thought and a preference for epiphenomenal and monistic metaphysical postulates. However, the reign of neurology is chal lenged by the clinical fact that the paroxysmal nature of epilepsy has not disappeared. Even with medical treatment psychiatric symptoms persist, especially in subtle and muted forms (Blumer and Bensen 1982). Ironically, the more severe the epilepsy is the more subtle the paroxysmal pattern is likely to be.



A balanced perspective is present in the current trend to unite neurology and psychiatry. This goes beyond the subject-object dichotomy that has plagued medicine during the mid twentieth century. Neuro psychiatry has a historical progenitor in the nineteenth century epileptic and novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky. Unlike Arthur Myers Dostoevsky left behind a large body of literature, richly endowed by acute awareness of his own temporal lobe epilepsy.

The basic model of epilepsy in Dostoevsky’s life and work consists of (1) foreboding premonitions and ecstatic, erotic auras; (2) unconscious convulsive seizures; (3) post-ictal psychoses, including a deep sense of guilt and feeling of having committed evil long ago; and (4) inter-ictal disorders, such as fear, paranoia, restlessness, agitation (Rice 1985, 43-44). The so-called Dostoevsky epilepsy is uniquely characterized by profound religious aura and a moral struggle between good and evil. The Dos toevsky aura has only recently been confirmed clinically (Cirignotta, et.al., 1980). However, the most comprehensive verification of the Dostoevsky epilepsy appears in the work of Dietrich Blumer (1984), who studied under Szondi. Blumer is a leader in neuropsychiatiy and is making known Szondi’s significant contributions to this field.

Szondi has shown that, in addition to epilepsy, other paroxysmal-epilep tiform tendencies or conditions include high blood pressure, allergies, asthma, hay fever, eczema, neurodermatitis, glaucoma, and enuresis. Other equivalents of epilepsy are acute paroxysmal manic or depressive phases; seizures by paranoid persecution delusions or catatonic negativism, cleptomania, pyromania, dipsomania, homicidal mania, and poriomania, which is an aimless wandering without awareness of the environment. Accident proneness may also be added to the list of epileptoid equivalents (Hedri 1963).

Along with these psychopathologies epilepsy is susceptible to a psychosis. This includes seizures, twilight states, and the behavioral characteristics noted above, but it lacks the chronic mental deterioration as found in schizophrenia. Szondi documents the epileptoid psychosis extensively, knowledge of which goes back to the nineteenth century (1963a). Throughout his many writings Szondi describes various relation ships between epilepsy and delusory states (Van Reeth 1981). A classic British paper introduced the term “schizophrenic-like psychoses of epilepsy,” without, however, acknowledging the pioneering contributions of



the German scholars (Slater and Beard 1963). Consequently, knowledge

of epileptoid psychosis cannot be regarded as a recent discovery.

Szondi accounts for epileptoid psychoses by a theory of ego splitting (1963a, 426-433; 1969, 56-59). Psychotic behavior exhibits a rotation of split-off ego parts. On the one hand, there could be schizoform inflative possession and, on the other, paroxysmal-epileptiform seizures. As these phases rotate, each replaces the other. For example, the schizoform inflative state might turn into migraines, asthma, eczema, stuttering, or poriomania. Such splitting would be caused by both epileptiform and schizoform heredity.

One aspect of extreme ego splitting is a struggle between good and evil as distinct forces. This involves a distinction between the pure Cain and the pure Abel. The former comprises the Cain emotions and an exhibi tionism, the latter the Abel emotions as well as feeling of anxiety, fear of punishment, guilt, and/or shame (Szondi 1980, 160). The pure Cain displays evil, the Abel good. As shown above in the case of Martin Zoldi, the pure Cain can mix with paranoia and sadism and also be covered by an Abel mask. The Cain and Abel phases alternated in Zoldi’s life until his execution as a war criminal.

Because of its hereditary origin, Cain behavior may be present in children as well as adults. For children the most common stimulus is abandonment or lack of love. Anxiety generates rage or hatred against parents, whether in the form of actual killing or paroxysmal symptoms. Cain reactions attain their maximal frequency (45-50%) between ages three and six. After childhood, there may follow a cycle of lowering and then rising in the 30s and 40s (20-25%), and then lowering and rising in old age (40-45%). This cycle illustrates the fact that hostility may appear with the onset of hormonal or biological changes in the organism.

Finally, to determine the Cain equivalents Szondi offers the following criteria: (1) the behavior must involve pent-up Cain emotions amid inner or outer threatening stimuli; (2) the activity must occur in a twilight state, partly with limited consciousness, partly with seizures; (3) psychological testing must yield data in the paroxysmal range; and (4) the 123

IV. Cain and Oedipus

It is well-known that psychoanalysis puts the Oedipus complex at the center of human existence. It is defined as the son who hates the father and loves the mother. Although Freud assigned priority to the Oedipus complex, Szondi believed that both it and the Cain complex were co-active. The Cain complex provides a useful formula in the diagnosis of certain neuroses. They derive from both existential conflicts and the paroxysmal epileptiform gene group. Specifically, the Cain complex can exist under three conditions: (1) conflict between the ego and a hereditary epileptoid disposition; (2) conflict between a manifest Cain personality and the moral and ethical environment; and (3) conflict within the conscience of a Cain personality (Szondi 1969, 115).

With a Cain complex one has two kinds of relationships. One is a love or bonding between father and son, and the other is an irritability, hatred, or homicidal wish toward the brother. These two psychological patterns require two specific defenses: (1) projection and (2) negation, in the sense of self-destruction by means of suicide ideation or intention, self-sabotaging inclination in work or career, or preoccupation with the crude aspects of life.

The most common neurotic symptoms of the Cain complex are (1) compulsion; (2) alienation; (3) hypochondria; (4) active anal sadistic inversion; (5) projective-paranoid neurosis; (6) perversions and exhibition ism; and (7) various psychosomatic disorders, such as migraines, heart attack, hypertension, ulcers, diabetes, and intestinal distress.

We normally find, behind these symptoms, a love-hate ambivalence toward a domineering person in early childhood, such as a sibling or parent. Because of the cruelty of that person, one would like to kill him or her unconsciously. As a substitute, the killing intent converts into a disease syndrome or is projected onto an organ. Consequently, the illness masks the killing intent, often with guilt and the dread of punishment like the mythic Cain. By means of the neurosis one sacrifices oneself instead of the other person.

Diagnosing a Cain neurosis may be difficult due to the lability of emotion. Hostility may be intermittent or screened by an Abel mask, particularly during a psychological interview. The same problem occurs with epileptics, who might have different test results before, after, or



between seizures. One trait of the epileptic is the ability to hide symptoms.

Consequently, we must be alert to what Szondi calls the “camouflaged Cain” in an everyday setting. One carries pent-up emotion and acquires a camouflage in the form of social modesty, shy charming behavior, narcis sism, or participation in the activities of churches, service, educational, or scientific organizations. Yet despite the mask, the Cain nature shows through in rough, choppy speech, muscular tension, irritability, or competitiveness. Some of the common ego phases of the everyday Cain are the undisciplined autistic personality in the sense of greed or hostility; inflative excitability; paranoid, compulsively antisocial and stereotyped regimented individuals. Camouflaging is present particularly with respect to sexuality and evil, and it may be exhibitionist with a strong hysteroid disposition.

In order to resolve the Cain complex there must be a movement toward restitution. This requires a coming to terms with the brother and an introjection of the father into one’s being. Such resolution takes place outside the family in that one is capable of relating in a brotherhood or sisterhood. Restitution promotes socialization.

In contrast to the Cain, the Oedipus complex involves a bonding with the mother and hostility toward the father. This duality may be defended by repression, inhibition, and alienation. The most common neurotic forms of the Oedipus complex are hysteria, alienation, passive inversion, and such psychosomatic disturbances as tachycardia, diarrhea, colitis, and impotence. Resolution of the complex takes place within the family, as one introjects the mother in the power of having and accepts the father. This complex revolves mainly around contact needs of attachment and acquisition.

Szondi argues that the Oedipus complex should be viewed in terms of a three-generational family system. The complex seems to be natural only under certain conditions. Specifically, the father must see his mother in his daughter, and the mother her father in her son (Szondi 1978, 149-150). In other words, the daughter takes after the paternal grandmother or sister of the father; and the son takes after the maternal grandfather or brother of the mother. As Szondi puts it, when a woman brings a boy into the world, she gives birth to her father; and when a man brings a girl into the world, he gives birth to his mother.



Co-existence of the Cain and Oedipus complexes could be argued on genetic grounds. Genes are transmitted equally between parents and children, brothers and sisters. Hence, parent-child relationships are not privileged genetically. Parents and children, brothers and sisters carry half the genes of the other. Genetic relationships between oneself and uncles and aunts, nephews and nieces, grandparents and grandchildren, and half-siblings are one fourth. Those between oneself and first cousins, great grandparents and great grandchildren are one eighth.

One of Szondi’s early assessments of the Oedipus complex appeared in his pioneering paper on marriage choice (1937, 58-60). The well-known story of Oedipus deals with the murder of his father Laius and the incestuous marriage to his mother Jocasta. This pattern accounts for the Oedipus complex as such; but the problem is that Freud does not account for all the generations of the family in his interpretation.

Oedipus has two daughters and two sons. One son, Polyneikes, dies in combat, and his body is left on a hill. His sister, Antigone, defies the King’s order by burying her brother’s body. Antigone then kills herself in a love-death pact. Her lover is Haemon who is the King’s son. He and Antigone are cousins; so they repeat the incestuous love in a second generation.

Szondi asks why the god Apollo initially denies children to Laius. According to the myth, Laius is homosexual. He had seduced Chiysippus, Apollo’s lover. So the father of Chrysippus arranges for Laius to be cursed by Apollo. Szondi concludes that the “anal-sadistic (homosexual) character accounts also for the murder of blood relatives. This was, according to the myth, the primary sin in the Labdykida family, because of that the family had to perish” (1937, 60).

Finally, the myths of Cain and Oedipus have fundamental moral differences. The cry of Cain, that his punishment is greater than he can bear, evokes an intentional guilt. One purpose. of the biblical writer(s) was to show how this moral intentionality flowed down the generations and deteriorated in a tragic end. Mythically, the first “Oedipus” is Lamech who slays his ancestor Cain unintentionally and unconsciously (Szondi 1964, 54). The suffering of Oedipus comes out of an unwitting sin, an unintentional missing the mark. Be defining the human predicament in Oedipal terms, psychoanalysis fails to penetrate the profound ethical conflicts that frequently inform mental disorders.



V. Paroxysmal Symbolism

We have already learned in chapter three, that paroxysmal families are associated with the primal elements of air, earth, fire, and water and that their members may have psychic abilities. Although he does not ac knowledge the paroxysmal pattern, Erik Erikson illustrates some of these ideas in his classic study of Martin Luther. Coal miners, from whom Luther descended, work underground and are vulnerable to superstition and sudden death (Erikson 1962, 58). Coal miners attack the earth with aggressive intensity, extracting material to be transformed into energy. The earth is a collective soul, a psychic ground, in which the volatile coal miner is embedded. Erikson found that steel workers in the old Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania shared this mystical conception of the earth (1962, 62). The fire of the steel mills produces smog which, being a transformation of the earthen metals, means productivity. Many of the old Pittsburghers were emigrees from Southeastern Europe, where people believed that the application of fire to earth assured fertility or employment.

A similar reading of Carl Jung’s autobiography would be suggestive. Jung explains that as a child he suffered eczema, accident proneness, desire for another world through suicide ideation, fainting spells with a hint of epilepsy, twilight states, and a worship of fire (1961, 7-9, 20, 30-31). He had a life-long attachment to water and to the majesty of the Alps. All of these feelings and phases belong to the paroxysmal-epileptiform hereditary circle, a fact that suggests a biological grounding for correspond ing archetypal contents, which Jung fails to do.

The same critique is fruitful with respect to Freud’s psychology of religion. In his classic essay on a seventeenth century demonic possession case, Freud derives the figures of God and Satan from split-off images of the love and hatred of the father, respectively (1923). The subject of the essay is Christoph Haitzmann, who undergoes some dramatic experiences. They consisted of visions and of loss of consciousness, during which he saw and experienced all manner of things; also of “convulsive seizures accompanied by the most painful sensation; on one occasion paralysis of the lower limbs occurred....” (1923, 77)

Freud goes on to say that after an apparent resolution Haitzmann had a relapse, in which “a great light appeared” to him, from which came the voice of Christ commanding him “to forswear this wicked world....” (1923,



The patient learned that his attacks were epileptic seizures and that they defended against his own homicidal wishes. By constructing a genealogy, the patient realized that he was a latent epileptic. His mother was the daughter of an epileptic father, and she suffered migraines. As a child, the father stuttered, had fits of rage, and engaged in periodic poriomania. He founded a religious sect and became an itinerent preacher. Several members of the family also had religious vocations.

Out of the familial phase of therapy a striking dream emerged, from which a few lines are quoted: “I run in the twilight over a wooded hill, where I hope I can see. I see people in the darkness.... But they are only families, no couples. At this time there is a war or period of military occupation. Uniformed Romans or Russians take possession of the land. We are in a house, I and many soldiers....” (Szondi 1956, 98) The patient says he is holding a Roman sword in his hand and that he must leave his friends and fight. “Nevertheless, I try to flee. I break out, while I cut as many as possible. It is horrible, what I cause for a blood bath. Beside me I hear someone whisper: ‘Amok!’ I have really run Amok!”

He tells how he rages as a savage and how the soldiers fall like flies before his sword. They stand in single column, so that he can cut them down more easily. Toward the end of the dream the patient states that a “face comes near to mine; suddenly I know. He is my father, and I see his face in mine: It is out of the fire; he is the god of fire.” Finally, the patient cries out: “I wake up still burning in the face” (Szondi 1956, 99).

The dream images of twilight, wooded hill, fleeing, killing, blood, running amok, and fire express a paroxysmal-epileptoid state. The dream content is both familial and collective, particularly in the representation of the father as the god of fire. The phrase “run amok” comes from the German psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin, who visited Java in the early twentieth century. He observed natives suddenly losing consciousness, ruthlessly stabbing themselves or anyone in their way, and afterward remembering little or nothing. The twilight condition, described by natives as a covering of the eyes, triggered a killing intent along with restless agitation. Kraepelin believed that they who run amok are undiagnosed epileptics.

The idea of running amok also bears upon the mythic Cain. In Hellenistic Judaism Cain means “loss of light,” which contrasts the fullness of light or heavenly countenance with which he is born. Cain lost the fullness of light by virtue of his fall or by procreation through the evil


angel Samael. The haggadic images of the loss of light and of Cain as “the dark one” mean a twilight state, a falling away of consciousness. Pent-up emotion displaces a lucid consciousness. Out of the darkness, the unconsciousness, a flame bursts forth, burning with the passion for evil and for restitution.



Chapter Seven: Formation of Conscience

I. Method of Interpretation

In the eightieth year of his life Szondi published a psychological study

of Moses. Entitled Moses, Answer to Cain, it reveals a personal struggle to come to terms with his own Jewish heritage (1973). The Moses is a sequel to his Cain. Szondi admits it was difficult for him to realize that Cain stands at the center of Mosaic religion and of Judaism.

In the Moses Szondi intends to show how religion and killing are integrated. To explain the relation between the two he draws upon his own ego psychology, specifically, the concept of the pontifical ego that came out of his study of Hinduism. The pontifical ego, the highest level of self-realization, is the bridge between killing and faith, between primitive and high religion. In the context of Judaism the pontifical ego functions as conscience. From his own experience Szondi points out that only the one who has gone from Cain to Moses can cross the bridge and form conscience.

Szondi carefully examines the evidence of the pre-Mosaic and Mosaic periods in the history of Israel, relying heavily upon the work of the older German scholars, such as the pioneering form critic Hugo Gressmann, Gershom Scholem, and Martin Buber. For textual evidence he uses Bible and legend, Halakhah and Haggadah, combining both the method of Rabbinic Judaism and the spirit of Hasidism. Let us recall that Szondi survived the Nazi terror and, therefore, his study of Moses indicates that observance of the Law or Halakhah was adequate for the Holocaust. In Szondi’s experience no post-Holocaust theology is necessary.

Both history and sacred legend are projective aspects of human

experience. History records certain extraordinary events or primal wonders

that erupt and lay down memory traces in the familial and collective



psyche. Following Buber’s own study of Moses (1958), Szondi acknow ledges that such events are objective, noncausal and yet they impart an abiding sense of astonishment. They are shock events that imprint subsequent generations with striking images. The collective memory is reducible neither to repression nor to genetics as such. The collective memory endures as an essential wholeness, as a morphic resonance in the life of the people. The psychological mechanism is the law of participation.

Szondi recognizes that the doctrine of God includes anthropomorphic attributes but that they are human projections. Projected attributes constitute the content of religious belief. Projections do not create illusions; they establish a divine-human relationship, culminating in a participation mystique. In the mystical participation we can predicate neither being nor nonbeing, neither the existence nor the non-existence of God (Szondi 1973, 26). Thus, in his study of Moses we realize that Szondi’s psychology of religion is informed by the via negativa, the negative theology of the mystic. With respect to Christianity Szondi’s psychology of religion coincides with the apophatic theology of the Greek Orthodox Church, according to which selfhood becomes manifest by participation in the divine light. The Orthodox legacy of relational selfhood is an elaboration of a famous saying by St. Maximus: Humankind becomes by participation what the archetype is by nature (Oliver 1984, 156).

II. The Story of Moses

Szondi examines Moses as he is portrayed in the composite sources of Bible and sacred legend. The birth of Moses is announced in dreams as a miraculous event. One dream comes from Miriam, the sister of Moses; she is commanded by God to inform her parents, Amram and Jochebed, of the birth. The English translation of the dream is available in The

Legends of the Jews: “Tell thy father and thy mother...that he who

shall be born unto them, shall be cast into the waters, and through him the waters shall become dry, and wonders and miracles shall be performed through him, and he shall save my people Israel, and be their leader forever” (Ginzberg 1980, 264).



Another dream comes from Pharaoh, who, dreaming that he is sitting on his throne, sees an old man standing before him and holding a balance

his hand. On one scale, the old man puts all the leaders of Egypt and, on the other, a child. The scale holding the child hangs below that holding the Egyptians.

Pharaoh awakens from his sleep and summons his three advisors, Balaam the magician, Jethro, and Job the Uzite. Balaam explains that a child will be born who will defeat the Egyptians and liberate the Hebrews. He recommends that Pharaoh kill all the Hebrew male babies, because previously the Hebrews had been delivered from threats of fire, sword, and hard labor. Job suggests that Pharaoh do what he thinks best. Jethro advises against destroying the Hebrews and either leave them alone or allow them to depart for Israel.

Pharaoh accepts Balaam’s counsel, accuses Jethro of disgrace, and banishes him. Jethro goes to Midian, where he will later become the father-in-law of Moses. Meanwhile, Balaam will become the enemy of Moses in Egypt.

Szondi notes that this haggadic material presupposes knowledge of historical events and that it projects psychological content (1973, 37-40). Specifically, the figures of Jethro and Balaam project the respective tendencies of good and evil or Abel and Cain. Following Carl Jung, Szondi interprets the old man as an archetype of the spirit and the scale

that of justice. Thus, Pharaoh’s dream means that in the life of Moses the good will outweigh the evil and that the Hebrew people will par ticipate in the divine realm of the spirit. The people will become by participation what the figure of Moses represents. The same meaning appears in the dream of Miriam.

The Bible records the fact that Pharaoh condemns all Hebrew male babies to death (Ex. 1:22). Amram and Jochebed give birth to a baby boy and, hoping he might be saved, place him in a basket and set it in the river. Bithiah, daughter of Pharaoh, finds the baby and decides to keep and raise him, even though he is Hebrew. He is named Moses, which means: “I drew him Out of the water” (Ex.2:lOb). The biblical text emphasizes the motifs of water, descent, and ascent. In light of our discussions of symbolism, in chapters three and six, these three may be regarded as symbolic forms derived from paroxysmal-epileptiform familial



heredity. By means of these symbols the text projects the need for restitution into the birth of Moses.

The same need is projected in the haggadic portrayal of Moses’ development. For example, when Moses is three, he is sitting on his adoptive mother’s lap at dinner. Suddenly, he grabs the King’s crown and puts it on his own head. Pharaoh is startled and asks his advisors what it means. Balaam reminds him of his earlier dream, pointing out that the boy is Hebrew and that he, like his ancestors, knows how to deceive kings. Pharaoh wonders whether the boy should be put to death, lest he grab his throne.

The advisors decide to test Moses’ intentions; so they place two objects before the boy, one a precious jewel, the other a burning coal. If the child should seize the jewel, then he would be plotting consciously against the King and should be put to death; but if he should take the coal, he would be acting unconsciously and innocently. One of the King’s advisors is the angel Gabriel in disguise. He guides Moses’ hand toward the burning coal instead of the jewel. Thus, Moses “lifted it up and touched it to his mouth, and burnt part of his lips and part of his tongue, and for all his life he became slow of speech and of a slow tongue” (Ginzberg 1980, 274).

In Szondi’s view, the destiny of Moses actually begins to take shape when, as a young man, he kills an Egyptian who is beating up a Hebrew (Ex. 2:11). Despite his Egyptian upbringing, Moses feels the victim to be his brother. Moses only does what he sees being done, namely, a beating to death. He repays an unjust act of killing with a just act because he will become a liberator and not a martyr. Since Moses beats the man to death in rage, he is one who slays in passion (Affekt-Totschlager). The biblical text portrays Moses as a man of emotional turbulence, one who has a passion against injustice.

On the next day, Moses sees two Hebrews fighting between themselves, and he intervenes. One says to Moses: “Who made you a ruler and judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” (Ex. 2:14a) Moses realizes that his crime is widely known. Even Pharaoh learns of it and sentences Moses to death. Moses is seized with fear and flees to the desert, to the land of the Midianites.

Moses meets Jethro, priest of the Midianites, and tends sheep for him. Jethro has seven daughters, and he gives one of them, Zippora, to Moses as his wife. She will bear Moses two sons named Gershom and Elieser.



Both Haggadah and the Bible (Ex. 6:14-25) list the genealogy of Moses. The head of the paternal ancestry is Levi, and one son is Kohath. Kohath fathers Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. Kohath has a sister Jochebed, who marries Amram. Thus, Amram, the father of Moses, marries his aunt. Besides Moses, Amram and Jochebed give birth to Miriam and Aaron.

Szondi states Moses’ genealogy but, curiously, does not amplit it too much. However, there are three aspects which, if developed, could strengthen a Szondian interpretation. First, Moses’ father marries his own aunt. In light of his treatment of the Cainite genealogy, we would expect Szondi to interpret this to mean the flexibility of the incest taboo in early societies. More precisely, marriages among relatives did occur in ancient Israel, although usually between cousins, in order to keep the blessing within the family and transmit it to the next generation (Segal 1976, 2).

Second, Szondi does not explain why Moses flees to the land of the Midianites in the desert. He merely suggests that the flight is instrumental in placing Moses near Mt. Sinai, on which he receives the revelation (1973,50). The apparent reason why Szondi neglects this point is that he depends on Buber, who rejects the Kenite hypothesis. Nevertheless, the Midianites were related historically to the Kenites, the people who claimed the mythic Cain as their ancestor (de Vaux 1978, 332-333). Moses’ mother Jochebed had a Kenite name due to the fact of intermarriage between Midianites and Kenites (Rowley 1950, 169). This fact is supported in the Judges tradition (1:16; 4:11).

Third, the father-in-law of Moses, Jethro, is also named Hobab in some texts (Num. 10:29; Jgs. 4:11). Hobab is a Kenite name. This implies that both Moses’ wife and mother descend from Kenite stock and that his marriage is possibly a cross-cousin type. So when Moses flees to the desert, he goes to his relatives. Hence, his flight is genotropic.

While tending sheep for Jethro, Moses receives a commission from God in the vision of the burning bush. An angel of the Lord appears to Moses in a fire. Tne bush is burning but is not consumed (Ex. 3:2). God speaks out of the fire, declaring the ground to be holy and that Moses should remove his sandals. God reveals himself as Yahwe/i: “I am who I am” (Ex. 3:14). The vision of the fire arouses great dread in Moses, so that he must hide his face.

In the Cain Szondi alludes to the mythic explanation as to why Moses

hides his face (1969, 10-11). In both Haggadah and Kabbalah Abel is



identified with Moses. In the late twelfth and thirteenth centuries the Kabbalah had a doctrine of transmigration (gilgul), in which the soul of Abel transmigrated into that of Moses (Scholem 1974, 345-348). In the haggadic version Abel dies because, when bringing his offering to God, he tries to look into God’s face, which is forbidden. Thus, Abel must be struck down. This further implies that Abel’s soul must transmigrate for the purpose of purification. Consequently, when Moses becomes afraid, he suddenly remembers what happened to Abel for attempting to see God face to face. Szondi does not accept the medieval doctrine of transmigra tion but interprets the mythic identification of Abel with Moses as a projective insight into latent recessivity by ancient peoples.

God tells Moses that his people, the Hebrews, still suffer oppression in Egypt. God selects Moses to return to Egypt and lead his people out of slavery (Ex. 3:6). Liberation will take place by means of signs and wonders sent from God. However, Moses offers four objections as to why he cannot be God’s agent. Of these, the most significant one psycholog ically is as follows: “0 my Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor even now that you have spoken to your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue” (Ex. 4:10). The haggadic image of the infant Moses touching his lips with the burning coal amplifies this trait.

Moses’ objections trigger God’s anger. God says to Moses that his brother Aaron will speak for him. Out of the shock of God’s presence Moses relents and agrees to go back to Egypt. His journey is interrupted, when God tries to slay Moses for not being circumcised. In defense against the divine assault Zipporah circumcises Moses, declaring to him:

“Truly you are a bridegroom of blood to me!” (Ex. 4:26) Szondi interprets this interlude to mean that the demonic, homicidal character of God is enhanced (1973, 56).

Altogether, the commissioning reveals four specific characteristics, which are originally stated by Buber (1958, 60): (1) murder committed by Moses and flight into a foreign land; (2) acceptance by the Midianite kin and work as a shepherd; (3) visions and auditions of God by Moses on a mountain; and (4) demonic experiences of God without a metaphysical dualism (Szondi 1973, 58-59).

Moses and Aaron return to Egypt and demand that Pharaoh release their people, but he refuses. Through Aaron’s rod, God sends the ten plagues of water turned to blood, frogs, gnats, flies, diseased livestock,



boils, thunder and hail, locusts, darkness, and after a warning death of the firstborn (Ex. 7:14-12:32). Szondi understands the plagues as surcharged natural phenomena preserved by sacred legend, whose content obtains from a collective, projective-participation state and whose purpose is to enhance faith.

Pharaoh’s resistance is not broken until the climax of the ten plagues, when at midnight the “Lord struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh...to the firstborn of the prisoner...and all the firstborn of the livestock” (Ex. 12:29). Szondi could have streng thened his interpretation by pointing to the act-fate structure of the drama, that the infanticide befalling Pharaoh had been enacted by his original death sentence for Hebrew male babies and that Yahweh brought the dramatic power of destiny to a horrifying consummation.

The ritual setting of the drama is the Passover, which includes the sacrifice of an unblemished one year old male animal, whose roasted meat is eaten with bitter herbs and unleavened bread. The Hebrews smear blood from the sacrificial victim onto the door posts and frames of their houses, so that as God “passes over” Egypt their families are spared. As in Moses’ circumcision, blood is shed to withstand the demonic cruelty of God, as Szondi recognizes.

The people leave Egypt, crossing the Sea of Reeds, ahead of Pharaoh’s pursuing army. The shallow waters are driven back by a wind, while the Egyptian army gets stuck in the mud. The people enter the wilderness, led by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. This great event known as the Exodus is regarded as a historical wonder, yet one that has been accomplished at the initiative of Yahweh.

In the perspective of depth psychology Szondi understands wondrous events or miracles as examples of collective faith. The collective psyche reacts with a startle to the objective actions of the Exodus. The startle includes pent-up emotion, precipitated by Egyptian oppression, and an emotional discharge through the oral and written traditions. Primitive Cain affects are aroused and projected onto God as attributes of providen tial activity. Thus, God’s cruelty in the Passover is not inherent in the divine nature but is the “consequence of a collective, paroxysmal-projective psychic function” (Szondi 1973, 63).

What Szondi finds significant is the psychological content of the historical wonders. Some involve fire; for example, the call of Moses



takes place at the burning bush. One of the plagues includes throwing ashes, “soot from the kiln” (Ex. 9:8). God leads the people by a pillar of fire (Ex. 13:21). As we have already learned, fire is a central paroxysmal epileptiform element.

Water is a related paroxysmal element. The baby Moses is put into and taken out of water. In the Exodus the people cross the Reed Sea, wherein the Egyptians drown. Resuming the story, the people arrive in Merah and discover that the water is bitter and cannot be drunk. God shows Moses a tree, which he throws into the water, and it becomes sweet to drink. Receiving the water brings an affirmation of divine redemption:

“for I am the Lord, who heals you” (Ex. 15:26b). Szondi argues that these references symbolize the healing properties of water, making restitution of the Cain impulse of anger, hatred, and quarreling which the people feel toward one another while in the desert with Moses.

The story moves to a climax, which is the revelation of the Law on Mt. Sinai, The Law is a covenant, a reciprocal bonding between a stronger party and a weaker one, or God and humankind. God promises care and has expectations, to which humankind responds in loyalty and trust. Szondi follows Rabbinic theologians who argue that the Law of Moses is not the first but is the fulfillment of the Genesis Covenant with Adam, Noah, and Abraham. This four-fold covenantal structure presupposes the chronology of the Priestly writings, which is an ordering of four primeval ages into a great cycle (Johnson 1988, 30). Whereas tribal genealogies, as in the Cainite lineage, deal with family interrelationships, the Priestly genealogy raises descent to a theological purpose, namely, the origin of the world as the foundation of law.

The revelation is a theophany, the drama of which intrigues Szondi. The stage is Mt. Sinai, the sacred mountain, set apart by a mysterious holiness. God descends to the mountain in a storm of fire and smoke, while the sounds of thunder, lightning, and trumpet reverberate. Moses ascends the mountain to meet God. The people are filled with anxiety. Szondi points out that the motifs of fire, ascent, and descent are symbolic forms projected from the collective paroxysmal psychic layer.

At the center of Law are the Ten Commandments, which describe human duties toward God and toward one another. Based upon the ancient suzerainty type of treaty, the Ten Commandments are inscribed on stone tablets and publicly witnessed by the assembled community.



Blessings and curses are attached and applicable to those who keep or break the commandments. Keeping the commandments presupposes a state of freedom, which God has actualized in the Exodus.

The sixth commandment reads: “You shall not murder” (Ex. 20:13). In Szondi’s view, it pertains to the Cain intent, which would be an act of murder motivated by rage, hatred, greed, and so forth. That murder is prohibited means that one task of the law is to atone for the Cain intent. The sixth commandment, in particular, satisfies the psychological need for restitution through the Abel phase.

Moses stays on the mountain forty days and forty nights, a phrase designating long, indefinite periods of time rather than specific days and nights. Meanwhile, the people approach Aaron and conspire to make idols with their jewelry. They forge a golden calf, which is a fertility symbol and which will lead the people through the wilderness (Ex. 32:1-8). Moses descends from the mountain and angrily breaks the tablets, when he sees the golden calf and the people dancing (Ex. 32:19). Since Aaron, Moses’ brother, participates in the conspiracy, the Cain complex is implicated.

Demanding obedience to the Law, God calls those who are on Moses’ side to go “back and forth from gate to gate throughout the camp, and each of you kill your brother, your friend, and your neighbor” (Ex. 32:27b). About three thousand men are killed at Moses’ command. Here homicidal rage is released in service of God, so that it would not be classified as murder. Divinely sanctioned killing is the same as obedience to God.

The commandments are re-inscribed on tablets and deposited in the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark serves as a sacred center, as the people journey through the wilderness for forty years. The Ark evokes fear and hatred among the enemies of Israel (Num. 10:35-36). While in the wilderness, the people begin to murmur about their misfortunes, and the “Lord heard it and his anger was kindled. Then the fire of the Lord burned against them, and consumed some outlying parts of the camp” (Num. 11:1). Once again, the anger of God is symbolized by fire.

The murmuring includes a complaint of Aaron and Miriam about the leadership of their brother Moses. The issue is whether Moses’ wife is Hebrew or not (Num. 12:1). God calls them to the tent of meeting, which is the symbol of divine transcendence in the desert. God states that he speaks directly to Moses but indirectly to the prophets through dreams and



visions (Num. 12:6-8). This declaration is followed by an outburst of God’s anger against Miriam.

The people murmur because they believe their wandering in the desert to be punishment and death. In response to the murmuring God announces that “your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness. And your children shall be shepherds in the wilderness for forty years, and shall suffer for your faithlessness, until the last of your dead bodies lies in the wilderness” (Num. 14:32-33). We read in this passage the theme of the earth as a symbol for a shock event. These chapters that deal with rebellion (Ex. 34: Num. 14) belong to the J strand, and they record the imposition of divine punishment upon the children and upon their children’s children. The epic quality of the J is congenial to Szondi’s analysis of destiny.

The struggle in the wilderness does not cease. The Levites who revolt under Korah are swallowed by the earth and by fire (Num. 16: 31-35). Some give in to the prostitution of the Baal cult and fall away from God; they are punished by hanging in the sun (Num. 25: 1-6). Moses leads the people in a holy war against the Midianites, and his command to kill correlates with the divine command of purification by fire and water (Num. 31:23). The frequent references to air, earth, water, and fire, as the content of shock events, project paroxysmal-epileptiform psychic content.

Finally, Moses is instructed to ascend Mt. Nebo and “die there on the mountain...and be gathered to your kin, as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor....” (Deut. 32:50). Moses is permitted to glimpse the land which God had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but he is not allowed to enter it. So Moses dies and is buried in an unknown grave (Deut. 34:1-6).

III. The Destiny of Moses

After sketching the story, it is appropriate to ask who Moses is in light of the analysis of destiny. Is his destiny primarily that of a religious or political leader? Following Buber, Szondi views Moses as a political figure who accomplished the unification of the people. Moses did not so much found a new religion as establish a theopolitical kingdom and an ethical principle. The idea of a theopolitical kingdom means an inseparable unity



of religion and politics (Buber 1958, 186). Thus, Moses is a law-giver and neither a priest nor a prophet exclusively.

The destiny of Moses unfolds through the stages of (1) prince, (2) shepherd, (3) miracle-worker, (4) leader of the people, and (5) politician (Szondi 1973, 105). The princely phase is elaborated mainly by legends, which project onto Moses unconscious content from the collective psyche. Moses is a heroic figure, who as a three year old seizes the king’s crown and then burns his lips with a coal. Taking the crown indicates an inflative claim common to religious leaders. The burning of the lips and the characteristic “slow of speech and slow of tongue” attest to stuttering. Both inflation and stuttering belong to persons afflicted by shock suffering (Anfallsrnensch).

The heroic princely phase ends when Moses slays the Egyptian in a fit of rage. “He looked this way and that, and seeing no one he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand” (Ex. 2:12) and later became afraid. The entire sequence projects a hysteriform vigilance before the epileptoid killing and a hysteriform anxiety and hiding one’s face afterward. The flight into the desert expresses the agitated, restless, and fearful wandering of the Cain personality. Szondi points out that the murder is the pivotal event in Moses’ destiny, the fundamental event that demands restitution. There is no more profound experience than the taking of another’s life. One is never the same again. So it is with the inflated Moses, whom the quarreling Hebrews perceive as a judge and a leader.

The calling of Moses takes place in the second stage, that of the shepherd, and it exhibits three crucial characteristics: (1) God’s selection of an affect killer; (2) the man chosen suffers the attack sickness of stuttering; and (3) he has visions and auditions of God in the context of fire (Szondi 1973, 107). These paroxysmal-epileptiform characteristics constitute the psychological profile of the Mosaic figure. The visionary and auditory capability comes Out of trance states, and these are facilitated by epileptiform pathologies.

The third phase is that of the miracle-worker and is most prominent in the events surrounding the Exodus, The miracles manifest a participa tion mystique as projections of the divine-human covenant. Miracle-work ing exemplifies the drive for participation, and the symbolic content shows that the realization of participation is conditioned by the tribal paroxysmal heritage.



The fourth and fifth phases, those of leader and politician, display an unbroken relationship between God and Moses. His conducting holy wars projects his own Cain nature (Kainitische Ungrund) onto God. Normally, the function of projection is to establish relatedness in reality, but when the “object” is God, the projection exalts participation to the highest level. The result is transpersonal integration and transcendence. Moses becomes one with God and transfers his power onto the divine reality. It is the transfer of power that opens up the transcendent horizon. The participa tion is so strong that all other gods are excluded. The gods are projec tions that do not create real relatedness. They are illusions.

Rejection of the gods involves a spiritual aggression made possible by the sublimation of the Cain intent. The violence committed by Moses after the revelation of the Law on Mt. Sinai means that the projective participation satisfies the need for restitution. The Law is both covenant and the structure of atonement. This truth is presupposed in the Sherna, the great commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” (Deut. 6:5). The same truth is summarized and refined in an old Hasidic saying, attributed to Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav: “One can serve God with the evil drive, when one directs one’s violent and covetous passion to God, and without the evil drive there is no perfect service” (Szondi 1973, 120).

IV. Cain-Moses Polarity

Szondi uses the names of Cain and Moses to symbolize specific destinies. The names comprise a complementarity, because they represent polar potentialities in human nature. The names also have a personal sig nificance to Szondi, as he explained in a letter to me (Dec. 8, 1978): “The Cain-Moses polarity with respect to religion has been my favorite theme for a long time. (No wonder: I have two nephews and one niece who are epileptic.)”

Szondi lists the respective characteristics of the Cain-Moses polarity as follows. The Cain are unscrupulousness; power of having, drive toward having, knowing and being all; intolerance; malevolence; insidiousness; malicious happiness; inclination to hurt others; killing intent; godlessness; law-breaking; and the primal image of evil. The Moses qualities are conscientiousness; capacity for renunciation; tolerance; willingness;


openness; helpfulness; inclination to heal; just intent; godliness; law-giving; and primal image of justice.

The human task is to unite the Cain and Moses impulses, to lay down a bridge between them, so that evil may be atoned. This is admittedly not easy to do, and, as Szondi points out, not even the Bible synthesizes the two patterns. For example, Moses kills in one moment and makes restitution in another, thus exhibiting an alternating or turn-about style. Similarly, members of the helping professions, such as clergy, may suffer the Cain complex or preach the love of God with intense personal hatred.

In civilized society the execution of justice in the court system carries out the Mosaic intent. The difference is that the law is a rational instrument of public policy; whereas the biblical Moses is a figure of irrational seizure symptoms. On the other hand, many who live in society are like neither Cain nor Moses, neither purely good nor purely evil, spending their days in moral ambivalence or obsessional neurosis. Some are able to sublimate the Cain intent in work that requires killing, as in law-enforcement and the military.

V. Origin of Conscience

Toward the end of the Moses Szondi raises the question of the origin of conscience. The question is posed with respect to the history of religions, specifically to the older literature of Egyptology, which provides evidence of moral insights existing in the fourth millennium in Egypt. Szondi notes the classic phrase of James Breasted, “the dawn of con science,” which implies the existence of conscience in the fourth millen nium in Egypt and that it is the primary source of Jewish ethics in Israel. The older Egyptian scholars like Breasted employed an evolutionary framework for religious ideas, a method which has since been discredited by comparative religions research.

While conceding the originality of the Egyptian materials, Szondi claims that they do not confront the problems of killing and guilt. These issues are taken up in the Hebrew Bible. Szondi acknowledges correctly that biblical Hebrew lacks an explicit term for conscience but that, nevertheless, the Bible is acutely aware of conscience in the penitential experience. In Szondi’s view as a psychiatrist, conscience is embodied in




the biblical symbol of the heart, including both an acknowledgment of unconscious evil impulses and a rational defense against evil (e.g., Ps. 39). We could go further and state that the Bible institutionalizes conscience in a liturgical form, namely, in the Day of Atonement festival (Jaeger 1959, 212).

Rabbinic Judaism affirms the existence of two innate inclinations, the one toward the good (yetzer toy) and the other toward the evil (yetzer ham). The Hebrew term yetzer is normally translated as “formation” or “imagination.” In the Septuagint or Greek translation of the Old Testament yetzer is usually translated as dianoia, which means “understand ing,” “mind,” or “disposition.” In Hebrew yetzer means to form or transform a thing into something else. The evil impulse (yetzer hara) is basically or potentially good, and the good impulse (yerzer toy) is what blocks the evil. Whether evil or good, the impulse is the same; there is no dualism of inclinations. The biblical narrative posits the origin of the evil impulse in primeval history: “The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually” (Gen 6:5).

Rabbinic Judaism also maintains that the evil inclination dominates childhood; as the Bible states “the inclination of the human heart is evil from youth....” (Gen. 8:21) The good inclination awakens at puberty and is represented by the Law. Children take the mitzvah at about age thirteen in order to assimilate the Law and actualize conscience. Since the Law or Torah represents the inner being of humankind, to know it is to know conscience. Consequently, the people can develop and educate themselves. Humankind may grow in the knowledge of good and evil.

Szondi’s moral psychology conforms to that of Rabbinic Judaism, The Cain tendency is the evil yetzer and the Abel the good yezzer. Both are rooted in the innate paroxysmal-epileptiform factor; both are aspects of the need for restitution. To say that evil dominates childhood is to agree with Szondi’s clinical findings that 45-50% of children act out the Cain impulses, as reported in chapter six. When Judaism requires the examination of evil deeds and repentance, as on the Day of Atonement, this practice conforms to Szondi’s interpretation of conscience as the restitution of the Cain intent. To affirm that the task of the Jew is to love God with both tendencies is to develop projectively a mystical participation in the realm of spirit.



The origin of conscience is, therefore, the atonement of evil. Because evil has a biological root and is subject to the human imagination, it may be confronted, conquered, and redeemed. Since conscience arises out of the same root as does killing, it cannot be located precisely in a historical origin. Szondi speculates that conscience arose when the first murderer atoned for his act. When that occurred is unknowable. Consequently, the origin of conscience, of good and evil, is best represented by myth, as in the Creation Narrative in the Bible. Only stories about our mythic ancestors like Cain and Abel point to the primeval mystery of good and evil.

Psychologically, conscience is a complex function that takes shape in the lives of persons and communities. Conscience is a function of knowledge comprising both social or cultural conditioning and the directives of religious faith. Szondi analyzes conscience as a synthetic censor system, which includes the following functions: (1) a hysteriform based morality representing value and a capacity for renunciation; (2) an epileptiform-based ethic manifesting a prohibition of murder, acknowledg ment of guilt, and capability of confession; (3) critical reality testing in the perspectival ego as a moral agent; and (4) high spiritual life in the pontifical ego (1973, 152-153).

VI. Welcoming the Stranger

As a psychiatrist, Szondi has worked out a psychology of religion largely within the heritage of Rabbinic and Hasidic Judaism. While his sources need to be updated, he accurately penetrates a fundamental level of religious experience, particularly that of the three great monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. He emphasizes that the founders of these religions, namely, Moses, Paul, and Muhammad, share paroxysmal-epileptiform characteristics. Their respective destinies show a transformation of the Cain intent into a structure of atonement.

Although Szondi’s theory awaits further validation within the history of religions, he offers a particularly helpful insight into the nature of monotheism as such. Let us recall that the essence of monotheism is not so much the affirmation of a single, transcendent God as it is the rejection of other gods (Pettazzoni 1923). Rejection of other gods presupposes psychologically the sublimation of the Cain intent onto God. Through the



projective-participation of faith the Cain intent is transformed into a principle of restitution. The resolution of evil through the highest level of selfhood becomes the driving force behind monotheism.

Monotheism came out of the desert, particularly the Sinai Peninsula and the Edomite territory east of Egypt. Monotheism cannot be regarded as an Egyptian product, a fact proven by recently discovered archeological evidence. King lists found at the Temple of Amon (1417-1379 B.C.E.) and at Amarah West (1304-1237 B.C.E.) identify “the land of nomads [ Yahweh” in the desert areas east of Egypt (Weinfeld 1989, 100). The documentary evidence points to the worship of Yahweh among the Hebrews, Kenites, and Midianites. The patriarchal tradition confirms that the Midianites were relatives of the Hebrews (Gen. 25:2) and also validates the evidence pertaining to the Kenites, as presented above and in chapter six.

The nomadic peoples, who were the historic bearers of monotheism, regarded themselves as the descendants of Abraham. Abraham is both the principal ancestor as well as the model of faith in the monotheistic reli gions. Inherent in the story of Abraham is the ethos of the desert, the culture which originates monotheism. The essence of the desert ethos is spiritual, and it may be summarized by the phrase “welcoming the stranger” (Gen. 18:2-8). Why must the stranger be welcomed? Hospitality must be given, so that the stranger will not become like Cain, a wanderer and a fugitive upon the earth (Patai 1983, 85). Behind this norm lies the fact that the descendants of Abraham are also strangers in an alien land (Gen. 23:4). The Hebrews had been strangers in Egypt, and God granted them hospitality in the form of the Covenant. For as it is stated in the Law of Moses: “You shall not oppress a resident alien; you know the heart of an alien; for you were aliens in the land of Egypt” (Ex. 23:9).

Welcoming the stranger is both an ethical command and a descriptive moral value. Integrating the stranger in the community prohibits violence, because the desert is a place of danger and being alone in the desert means to be essentially condemned to death. Killing is one way to cope with the terror of the desert. The nomadic personality corresponds to the extremes of the desert. Raphael Patai has provided an astute portrayal of the desert personality, one which, from time to time, is seized by pent-up emotions, driven to release intense hostility, and possessed by a passive or remorseful phase (1983, 160-161). This is the same as Szondi’s


family tree must have persons who bear attack sickness or shock suffering (1969, 78).



paroxysmal-epileptiform pattern; but Patai does not use this phrase because he relies too heavily on psychoanalysis.

Welcoming the stranger resolves the Cain complex. Hospitality creates a brotherhood or sisterhood. The psychological need for restitution, as identified by Szondi informs the biblical love command which grounds the structure of atonement in the Law: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ (Lev. 19:18b). The neighbor also includes the stranger (Lev. 19:33-34). The same ethical command is restated in the New Testament (Matt. 6:38-48; Lk. 6:27-36; Rom. 12:14, 17, 19-21). In early Christianity the resolution of the Cain complex occurs in the experience of the Apostle Paul, when he became a missionary following his career as a persecutor of the Church (Hughes 1982a). Paul’s autobiographical passages give evidence of a paroxysmal-epileptiform personality like that of Moses.

Thus, monotheism retained elements of a nomadic culture within its spiritual essence. It was borne by intense paroxysmal personalities and gave rise to fluid reformist traditions. In as much as religious experience is conditioned by heredity, we should conclude this chapter by considering the biological implications of hospitality. When we welcome the stranger, we assimilate diverse gene pools and promote genetic variety. Such diversity serves the needs of survival by facilitating adaptability. Even when a group becomes settled and acquires a sedentary culture, the principle of hospitality remains as a dynamic force, promoting love and justice. As Szondi knew so long ago, the biblical love command is not a superficial idea but represents the fundamental truth of human existence. Resolution of the Cain complex brings freedom and dignity and lays the foundation for a Just and responsible society.



c 1996-2000 Leo Berlips, JP Berlips & Jens Berlips, Slavick Shibayev