Thursday 1 January 2015

Is Psychoanalysis a Jewish Science? Freud and his Rebbe. Joseph Berke conducts Inner Circle Seminar 211 (15 February 2015)

Dr.JosephHBerke.jpg (298×199)
Dr Joseph H. Berke

Is Psychoanalysis a Jewish Science?

Freud and his Rebbe

Joseph Berke
Inner Circle Seminar No. 211
introduced by
Anthony Stadlen

Sunday 15 February 2015
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Nazis burned Sigmund Freuds books, persecuted Jewish psychoanalysts, and banned psychoanalysis as a Jewish science. Freud had gone to great trouble a quarter of a century earlier to protect psychoanalysis from such an apparently bizarre allegation by arranging that the Swiss ‘Aryan’ psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung should appear to be leading the psychoanalytic movement.

But David Bakan, in his book Sigmund Freud and the Jewish Mystical Tradition (1959), argued that there is an authentic sense in which psychoanalysis, springing from that tradition, is indeed a Jewish science (this does not imply that it is a natural science, as Freud claimed). In todays seminar, the psychiatrist and psychotherapist Dr Joseph H. Berke develops Bakans argument, and reports on Freuds relationship with, and treatment of, the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe.

Dr Joseph H. Berke writes:

Kabbalah is the Jewish mystical tradition. In the seminar I shall demonstrate the importance of Kabbalah to the development of Freud’s work and the way it has entered Western culture through psychoanalysis. I shall also show how these ideas have enriched our understanding of mental processes and clinical practices.
Hassidism is a mystical and religious renewal movement based on the Kabbalah.  Freud’s ancestors were hassidim going back many generations. I shall discuss how this background influenced Freud’s life and work. I shall show how he struggled to deny these roots
Sigmund Freud
in order to be accepted as a secular, German professional, and at the same time how he used them in the development of his ideas about dreaming, sexuality, depression and mental structures as well as healing practices.

Essentially psychoanalysis is a secular extension of Kabbalah.

Freud utilized the Jewish mystical tradition to develop a science of subjectivity.

This concerns:

1) The systematic exploration of human experience.
2) Uncovering the secret compartments of the mind.
3) Expanding human consciousness beyond ‘objective reality.
4) Exploring the deepest levels of the mind: preconscious and unconscious methods of thinking.
5) The revelation of hidden, unconscious thought processes by free association and dream analysis, all linked to kabbalistic modalities such as ‘skipping and jumping .
6) The close connection between psychoanalysis, quantum physics and kabbalah.
Rebbe Rashab
(fifth Rebbe of Lubavitch Hassidim) 
I shall begin by describing Freuds successful treatment of the great hassidic leader, the Rebbe Rashab, the fifth Rebbe of Lubavitch Hassidim.
I shall end by showing how Freud’s creativity has passed through generations of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Dr Joseph H. Berke is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist working with individuals and families. He is a lecturer, writer and teacher and has lived in London since 1965. He had attended Columbia College of Columbia University and graduated from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in New York.

Dr Berke moved to London to study with Dr R. D. Laing and assisted in establishing the Kingsley Hall Community. There he helped Mary Barnes, a middle-aged nurse who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, to pass through a severe regression. Barnes later became a noted artist, writer and mystic. The book which Barnes and Berke co-authored, Mary Barnes: Two Accounts of a Journey Through Madness, was adapted as a stage play and has been performed in many countries. It has now been optioned as a feature film.

In 1970 Berke and colleagues founded the Arbours Housing Association in London to provide personal, psychotherapeutic care and shelter for people in emotional distress. Later he founded and was the director of the Arbours Crisis Centre.

Berke is the author of many papers and books on psychotherapy, social psychiatry, psychosis, therapeutic communities and transpersonal psychology as well as Kabbalah and Hassidism. This includes: Centers of Power: The Convergence of Psychoanalysis and Kabbalah (with S. Schneider, Jason Aronson, 2008). For further information, visit his website:

Venue: Shepherds Close, London N6 5AG
Cost: Psychotherapy trainees £120, others £150, some bursaries; refreshments and a copy of Dr Berke's new book, Freud and the Rebbe, included; payable in advance; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled
Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra Avenue, London N22 7XE
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8888 6857 E-mail: 
For further information on seminars, visit:

The Inner Circle Seminars were founded by Anthony Stadlen in 1996 as an ethical, existential, phenomenological search for truth in psychotherapy. They have been kindly described by Thomas Szasz as ‘Institute for Advanced Studies in the Moral Foundations of Human Decency and Helpfulness’. But they are independent of all institutes, schools and colleges.

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