The Psychological Perspective and the Idea of Schizophrenia in the Story of Abraham in the Bible

The story of Abraham is a story of a man who was to sacrifice his son in the name of God in order to see how much he truly loves God. As he is about to strike his son, Abraham hears a voice, the voice of an angel sent by God. However, is it not possible that this voice is simply in his head? Carl Jung, a psychoanalysist, who followed in the footsteps of his collegial mentor Sigmund Freud wrote on his current viewpoint of schizophrenia.

At the time, schizophrenia was not even a real disease and was known as dementia praecox. Jung ended up writing a book called, The Psychology of Dementia Praecox, that gives a more detailed explanation. Once applying this idea of schizophrenia onto the story of Abraham it is possible to view the story not as the founder of Judaism but instead as an old man who thinks he should kill his son in the name of God.

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Abraham in the Book of Genesis is told to take his son to the land of Moriah and use him as a sacrifice. Without question, Abraham got together his things, and set out in the morning with his son, Isaac, and left. Isaac confused at what Abraham intended on sacrificing, eventually understood and was tied down to the altar his father had built for him. “And Abraham took the knife and lifted it up to plunge it into his son, to slay him. At that moment the Angel of God shouted to him from heaven, … (The Living Bible, Genesis 23.

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10-11). As this occurred, Abraham then stopped after the angel told him it was unnecessary and sacrificed a ram instead. As the Mayo Clinic describes, schizophrenia is associated with symptoms such as “delusions, hallucinations, disorganized thinking, abnormal motor behavior, and other negative symptoms” (3).

The symptom involving hallucinations can involve seeing and hearing things that are not really there. This tends to be the most common symptom for schizophrenics. Apart from the hallucinations, abnormal motor behavior could also simply be a change in personality that can lead from childlike behavior all the way onto extreme agitation.

Therefore, it is possible that Abraham hallucinated the voice in his head telling him to sacrifice Isaac. The fact that he was so willing to sacrifice his son after struggling to bear children with his wife is an idea that shocks many. Abraham must have been undergoing through extreme agitation and confusion which was what lead him to believe that he needed to do this. The fact that he stopped could either mean that the voice in his head (the angel of God) told him to stop, or an outside force stopped him such as a bystander or one of the young servants. Perhaps Abraham heard the voice of an angel and that is what told him to stop. Perhaps he was just a schizophrenic man. The latter being the most probably. Abraham displayed most of the symptoms of Schizophrenia that at the time did not have a specific course of treatment. After all, the idea of schizophrenia wasn’t even coined out until thousands of years later.

Abraham was simply suffering what Jung called dementia praecox and was just a very ill man. Job The story of Job is almost a tragic yet hopeful one. It is the story of almost a perfect-man who gets stripped away of everything he loves by God in order to test his fate. Once his fate has been tested he is then repaid everything he lost with more to spare leaving him happy again. Carl Jung also had something to say about this story in his book, Answer to Job, in which he writes that it is possible that God not only has a good side but also an evil side. What he does to Job is simply God also developing psychologically. In Jung’s book, he does not come up with any theories, but it instead appears to be more of a confrontation towards God. He writes that,

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The Psychological Perspective and the Idea of Schizophrenia in the Story of Abraham in the Bible. (2022, Nov 07). Retrieved from

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