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Letters...but in all the shouting, no one’s listening.


Thank you for the discussion of the objections to non-Hindu psychoanalytic interpretations of Hindu scripture. I object to most psychoanalytic interpretation of literature, claiming serious intentions, as reduction by an immature hermeneutic. Admittedly the issues in the present case are complex, but psychobabble in any case exploits the vocabulary of diagnosis. That vocabulary’s justification stands only when preliminary to a program of therapy. In the absence of therapy, it is jargon.

Jeffrey J. Kripal’s (PhD’93) defense of it as “the most sophisticated language we have in the West” illustrates the neediness of Western religious studies. Fortunately, a serious scholarship of language from Wittgenstein and French structuralism has developed in the shadows of academic fashion and now may consign the Nietzsche-Freud influence to the dustbins of history. If psychoanalysis works, that has little to do with Freud’s myths attempted as explanation, as fascinating as they are.

Rex J. Styzens, DB’59
Long Beach, California

I wonder why so many of the professors of the great universities of our country are still so enamored by the bankrupt ideologies of Freud and Marx. Using these to interpret and explain complex religions like Hinduism is really not very useful. I would suggest that using the knowledge from comparative mythology that scholars like Joseph Campbell and Karl Jung have given us would be much more helpful in understanding the metaphor of the world’s mythology and religions. From this understanding, we might realize the essential unity of the human condition and that all paths lead to the same mountaintop.

Thomas Murray, AB’87
Lake Forest, California

The Magazine welcomes letters. Letters for publication must be signed and may be edited. To ensure a range of views, we encourage letters of fewer than 300 words. Write Editor, University of Chicago Magazine, 5801 S. Ellis Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637. Or e-mail: