Analyzing Portnoy's complaint : psychoanalysis as a substitute for Judaism

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Title: Analyzing Portnoy's complaint : psychoanalysis as a substitute for Judaism
Author: Werner, Rachel
Department: Haverford College. Dept. of Religion
Type: Thesis (B.A.)
Running Time: 223025 bytes77038 bytes
Issue Date: 2004
Abstract: This thesis highlights the ways in which Portnoy's Complaint makes a statement about the power of psychoanalysis. The first section explores Sigmund Freud and his work in cultural context, looking at Freud's Jewish identity and the changing role of psychoanalysis in American history. The second section examines Freud's essays in detail, exploring how they both permeate and inform Philip Roth's novel. Included are essays dealing with parents, object-choice, obsessive acts, religion and humor. I argue that Roth presents psychoanalysis as a tool. He successfully employs analysis as a means of connecting one man's experience with a more general audience, yet he also shows how his protagonist's unrealistic expectations of psychoanalysis yield unsatisfying results. The novel is more than just a comedy about identity issues and struggles with rules and power; Roth's decision to portray analysis like Judaism (both featuring systems of belief, authority figures, and rituals) makes a deeper statement about how they are both limited conventions.
Subject: Psychoanalysis in literature
Subject: Roth, Philip. Portnoy's complaint
Subject: Judaism in literature
Subject: Roth, Philip -- Criticism and interpretation
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Werner, Rachel. "Analyzing Portnoy's complaint : psychoanalysis as a substitute for Judaism". 2004. Available electronically from

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