Is the Bible Hazardous to Your Health?
Regis NicollRegis Nicoll's weblog
- 2010 Aug 27
If Sigmund Freud were alive today he might push for a label affixed to Bibles, something along the lines of, "WARNING: Regular exposure to this book can lead to unhappiness, depression, psychosis, and in some cases, suicide."
Freud believed that happiness resulted from the fulfillment of sensual desire, particularly sexual desire. As Freud saw it, all of the pathologies that beset man could be traced to repressed sexual expression. Within a few decades, his ideas effected a sea change in thepublic attitude.
Before Freud, the Bible was generally accepted as a reliable guide for experiencing the good life; after Freud, the Bible, with its proscriptions against sexual immorality, became viewed as unhelpful at best, and harmful at worst, to human flourishing.
The changing cultural mores influenced by Freud were reflected in popular media, most prominently in the pre-Code films of Hollywood. Made in the 1920s and '30s, pre-Code movies included nudity, sexual promiscuity, and suggestive language that even many people today find shocking.
The enforcement of the Motion Picture Production Code in 1934 held back the smut for a while, but by the late '50s it crept back in as Hollywood began taking cues from foreign movies that were not subject to the U.S. Code.
Cinematic sexuality resurfaced in The Tarnished Angels (1957), The Apartment (1960), and Lolita (1962), but it was in the hit film Splendor in the Grass (1961) that Freudian thought was writ large. Continue reading here.