A Psychoanalytic Perspective on Devotion to the Virgin Mother of God
The Latin adage about the Virgin Mary, de Maria numquam satis, tells us there is “never enough of Mary.” Breaking new ground in the long tradition of Christian mariology, Imagining Mary is an interdisciplinary investigation from an atheist point of view—a first step toward a truly unbiased, psychoanalytic mariology.
From East to West and from the New Testament Mary of Nazareth to Our Lady of the Good Death in the twentieth century, Imagining Mary examines the mother of God in her multi-religious and pan-historical context. Daniel Rancour-Laferriere describes how Mary is represented in a wide variety of cultural artifacts in addition to the Bible: theological treatises, passion plays, poetry, iconography, papal bulls, ritual practices, and more. He then explores the why: the psychology of representations of Mary, especially regarding the basis for transforming Mary into a “goddess,” Mary’s compassion for her son at the foot of the cross, and the conflict within Mary’s personal relationship with her son Jesus.
This book will appeal to anyone who has ever wondered, for example, about the flimsy scriptural basis of beliefs about Mary, the tendency to depict Mary as an incestuous “bride of Christ,” the notion of Mary’s “loving consent” to her son’s crucifixion, or the curious appeal of Mary to the terminally ill. One does not need to be a believer to understand the great appeal, received wisdom, and psychological effects of Mary through the centuries.
“Daniel Rancour-Laferriere is a distinguished psychoanalytic scholar who brings his considerable talents to the examination of the role of Mary.”
—Paul Elovitz, Editor, Clio's Psyche