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Young Man Luther: A Study in Psychoanalysis and History (Austen Riggs Monograph) Paperback – June 17, 1993


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Product Details

  • Series: Austen Riggs Monograph
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reissue edition (June 17, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393310361
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393310368
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #332,506 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

A winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, Erik H. Erikson was renowned worldwide as teacher, clinician, and theorist in the field of psychoanalysis and human development.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 5, 1999
Format: Paperback
Having had to read this for a college class, I approached it with a certain resignation, but found that my Lutheran background was at first helpful in understanding the context, and then made more clear in comprehending the "big picture." Erickson proposes some unusual connections, but in light of our increasing knowlege of what makes people "tick," it is not too farfetched. Given that the reformation was a significant watershed in the political, religious and ethical world, it is worthwhile to have a better understanding of who this guy (Luther)was, and what could have pushed him from devoted Catholic priest to the impetus for a massive schism. It was more than the sold indulgences, and understanding what had influenced his life as a child, as well as what continued to influence him as a reformer, made more clear the personality and motivations, the heart and mind of the man who opened the church to the common man. With that opening, the "church" was no longer on such a pedestal, the priest was no longer too elevated for common folk, and subsequently, the progress of the Renaissance was inevitably, though slowly, available to all, rather than the select few. A man of such importance deserves to be understood.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 11, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is Erikson's breakthrough work in psychohistory. He reads the inner conflicts of Luther and connects them convincingly with great historical events. In this particular case he chooses a historical figure whose violence in some way undermines and contradicts the very religious vocation his life is built upon. Erikson shows how the revolutionary Luther in conflict with his own violent father and himself turns against the world of corrupt medieval indulgence- laden Catholicism and uses his own personal energy and story to create a powerful change in history, the Reformation.
This is an admirable piece of theorizing and research combined and a fascinating read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Steven H Propp TOP 100 REVIEWER on January 11, 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Erik Erikson (1902-1994) was a German-born American psychologist known for his theory on psychosocial development of human beings. He wrote many books, such as Childhood and Society, Identity and the Life Cycle, etc. He wrote in the Preface to this 1958 book, "This study of Martin Luther as a young man was planned as a chapter in a book on emotional crises in late adolescence and early adulthood. But Luther proved too bulky a man to be merely a chapter. His young manhood is one of the most radical on record: whatever he became part of, whatever became part of him, was eventually destroyed or rejuvenated. The clinical chapter became a historical book." (Pg. 7)

Erikson says, "I do not mean to suggest that those who chose the monastery ... KNOW that they are marking time before they come to their crossroad, which they often do in the late twenties, belated just because they gave their all to the temporary subject of devotion. The crisis in such a young man's life may be reached exactly when he half-realizes that he is fatally overcommitted to what he is not." (Pg. 43)

He argues, "Martin must be assumed to have been at the time in the throes of a conflict which ... must have made the idea of a marital commitment repugnant to the point of open panic... when he did marry twenty years later, having in the meantime taken the vows of celibacy, broken with the Church, and set fire to the world around him, publicly proclaimed as his first and foremost reason for taking a wife that it would please his father." (Pg.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 29, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book is Erik Erikson's posthumous analysis of the life of Martin Luther (of Protestant Reformation fame) based on Erikson's psychosocial theory of development. While this book is a very interesting application of EE's theory, psychoanalyzing an individual after they're dead using only historical records raises serious methodological concerns. Regardless, the book gives interesting insights into what MIGHT have occurred in Martin Luther's psyche, and what brought him to the place where he altered the course of human (at least western) history. However, EE leaves little room for the possibility that religious experiences actually occur,that Martin Luther's religious experiences can be explained by something outside an arrest in his psychosocial development. To balance out his somewhat areligious perspective, Roland Bainton's "Here I Stand" is a good companion. (Bainton was a Quaker who taught at Yale until he passed away in I believe the 1970s). It would be unfortunate to get the life history of a religious figure only from a the point of view of a non-religious person (I believe EE was either agnostic or an atheist).
In sum, I found this book is most interesting and useful as a window into a EE's application of his own theory (which is fascinating), rather than a biography of Martin Luther.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Luc REYNAERT on June 15, 2013
Format: Paperback
E. Erikson wrote a brilliant psychological portrait of Martin Luther, the man, together with an insightful sketch of the revolutionary consequences of his doctrine in an age dominated mentally and financially by the Roman Catholic Church.

Luther's personal development
E. Erikson explains brilliantly `how young Martin, at the end of a somber and harsh childhood, was precipitated into a severe identity crisis for which he sought cure in the silence of the monastery; how being silent, he became `possessed'; how being possessed, he gradually learned to speak a new language, his language; how being able to speak, he not only talked himself out of the monastery, and much of his country out of the Roman Church, but also formulated for himself and for all of mankind a new kind of ethical and psychological awareness.'
Erik Erikson evocates sublimely the `divine call' to Martin Luther (`the fit in the choir') during a heavy thunderstorm, when Luther felt that his life was in danger.

Sexuality and obscenity
Luther's contacts with sexuality were rather broadly ranged (from abstinence to homosexuality).
His schoolmaster `loved Martin with an affection surpassing that of a woman.'
On monastic vows, he was very clear: `the sexual instinct is essentially insurmountable, and should not be subjected to attempts at suppression lest they poison the whole person.'
Another aspect of his sexuality was his `anal fixation': `Thou shalt not write a book unless you have listened to the fart of an old sow, to which you should open your mouth wide and say `thanks to you, pretty nightingale; do I hear a text which is for me?
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