Journey of Faith - InfoFaith Communications, Inc.
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Journey of Faith

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Here is an example of how Freud's "idiographic" mind worked -- and of his interest in numbers. While correcting the proofs of his book The Interpretation of Dreams in 1899, he wrote a friend that he had reached the point where he was so fed up with the chore that he would make no further corrections "even if it contained 2467 mistakes." Now, most of us would say we won't make one more correction even if there are 100 or 1000 errors. Freud being Freud, he set about analyzing himself to find out how he had come with such a number as 2467.

At breakfast he had been reading the Vienna newspaper and had come across an item about the retirement of a certain Colonel M as Inspector-General of Ordinance. He had commented to his wife that he himself hoped to be able to work another 24 years. Freud recalled that he had met Colonel M while a medical student at the University of Vienna and it was on his 24th birthday. Thereafter he followed the career of the colonel with some interest, and when he read about his retirement, he began musing on his own eventual retirement. He was 43 at the time. The pieces came together. If he worked 24 more years, he would be 67 when it came time to close out his practice. Thus the number 2467....

Kabbalah, the Jewish mystical study of God, in its strictest sense refers to the medieval Jewish mystical tradition. My kabbalistic psychotherapy (KPT) is a system of psychodynamic psychotherapy incorporating elements from Kabbalah. I extended the scope of KPT by adding an English-language approach, so that much of what I was doing in this area could be labeled neokabbalistic therapy. In my KPT work, I would make extensive use of gematria, or Jewish numerology -- the interchanging of Hebrew numbers and letters. By adapting it to the mnemonicist's number letter system [q.v.], I had transformed it, while at the same time widening its applicability, into what could be called neogematria.

Some patients who came to see me would begin by being hung up by that bugaboo, mysticism. I would explain to them that in my hands mysticism was stripped of its age-old deadweight -- witchcraft, magic, divination -- and what I was following was a system that could at times connect with the transcendent, that which lies beyond time and space...The idea behind KPT was to seize upon those special moments, rare moments when a window into the noetic realm -- the spiritual realm -- would open....

---- from Journey of Faith, 2003, pp. 150-151

Although professing no faith, my patient did use the language of religion freerly. He may have denied the existence of God, but he would evoke the name of the devil to talk about evil, a theme that absorbed him. During one session, he was dwelling on the theme of evil in the world and said, for emphasis, "Don't forget you can't spell 'devil' without a d."

"Sure you can," I said. "What's left spells 'evil.'"

"Evil is in the eye of the beholder," Abel retorted. "Everyone doesn't see it the same way."

He was echoing the morality-is-relevant theme that had come to be accepted in modern America.

Evil is vile any way you look at it," I responded, launching into an anagrammatic sequence, "and the devil can veil what is vile."

Abel apparently didn't catch it. He turned in the direction of misanthropy, another theme of his. "Moses complained that God had saddled him with a stiff-necked people --"

"Did I hear you mention God's name?" I asked, grinning.

"Only to develop my point," he answered...We're a defective species, Doc. Accept the reality...There are those among us, my good doctor, who are morphing their way back down the ladder of evolution toward Homo primitivus."

"For better or for worse," I started to say, "we all belong to one species. And that's the God honest truth."

"You just can't live without your God, I see."

He speaks the language of the atheist, I mused. I now found myself quoting several non-Jewish sources to press home my point. "The Christian rock star Carman philosophized," 'To live like there is no God is to live like a fool.'"

"Since when does a psychiatrist turn to rock singers for harmony?" With that Abel let out a loud laugh..."No, Doc, planet Earth is the devil's playground."

It was turning into a contest of words. I thought I'd throw another quote at him. "You know," I started to respond, "John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, said, 'Where there is no devil, there is no God.' Just turn it around and you have: If there is no God, there is no devil."

"Clever, my good doctor, but cleverness never alters the reality. We've been set adrift in a meaningless world where evil holds sway. I caught your little play on words a short while ago. You left one word out of your anagramming. Reverse the spelling of evil and you have l-i-v-e. The devil lives...."

Abel was the second of three new patients I acquired between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and his therapy would be the most difficult of the three.

--- from Journey of Faith, 2003, pp. 87-89