The Sword of Laban: Joseph Smith, Jr., and the Dissociated Mind / Edition 1

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Overview

"A whole life can be shaped by an old trauma, remembered or not." -- Lenore Terr, Child Psychiatrist

What behavioral patterns could one expect from an adult whose brutal childhood traumas held themes of dismemberment, punishment, and worse? For Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of Mormonism, a religious superstructure of narcissism may have evolved, with sexual and ritualistic features that flowed directly from traumatic events.

Joseph suffered unspeakable pain as a seven-year-old child from a leg bone infection and its surgical treatments without anesthesia. He survived as the crippled middle child of an impoverished migrant family, retreating into a fantasy world of violence, persecution, and revenge from which he never completely emerged. As an adolescent, the sudden death of his beloved older brother contributed bizarre bereavement fantasies to an already traumatized psyche.

The Sword of Laban examines the Mormon prophet's enigmatic life in light of current understanding of posttraumatic stress disorder and the dissociation that accompanies it. Dr. Morain traces the repetitive patterns of behavior and fantasies of Smith's adult life. He demonstrates how the horrifying real events of the surgeries combined with the developmental phase-specific fantasies of a seven-year-old boy resulted in permanent pathological distortion of Smith's entire early psychological growth and development -- with significant consequences for his subsequent adult psychological functioning.

Dr. Morain's remarkable psychological study of Joseph Smith, Jr. will be of interest to a wide spectrum of readers -- as a social history, religious biography, an account of the dissociative elements in poetic and spiritual genius, or simply a gripping portrait of an ill-fated and tragic man. This text also has a special relevance for clinicians who are changing their theoretical and practical approaches to psychiatric illness.

American Psychiatric Publishing

The book contains no figures.

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Editorial Reviews

From The Critics
Reviewer: Virginia Galloway, BA (Rush University Medical Center)
Description: This biography psychoanalytically examines the life of the Mormon prophet in light of posttraumatic stress disorder and the resulting dissociation.
Purpose: The primary purpose of the book is to provide a thorough psychoanalytic case study of Joseph Smith, Jr.'s experiences and resulting behavior. Secondarily, the book serves as an addition to ongoing dialogue about the Mormon founder's behavior. The objectives of the book are met, but the value of these objectives is limited.
Audience: The book is targeted to anyone interested in comprehensive case study analysis, especially posttraumatic stress disorder specialists and psychiatrists. The author's background in plastic surgery, however, does not qualify him as an authority given the target audience and the psychoanalytic perspective of the book.
Features: The references are sufficient and the index is adequate. The division drawn between chapters is sometimes unclear, but the book does provide a chronological and consummate history of the Mormon founder.
Assessment: For the individual interested in a detailed biography of Joseph Smith, Jr. and/or the underpinnings of Mormonism, this book provides a unique perspective. It presents a sensitive psychoanalytic theory regarding the behavior of Joseph Smith, Jr., and stresses insight into how traumatic events can shape individual lives.
Virginia Galloway
This biography psychoanalytically examines the life of the Mormon prophet in light of posttraumatic stress disorder and the resulting dissociation. The primary purpose of the book is to provide a thorough psychoanalytic case study of Joseph Smith, Jr.'s experiences and resulting behavior. Secondarily, the book serves as an addition to ongoing dialogue about the Mormon founder's behavior. The objectives of the book are met, but the value of these objectives is limited. The book is targeted to anyone interested in comprehensive case study analysis, especially posttraumatic stress disorder specialists and psychiatrists. The author's background in plastic surgery, however, does not qualify him as an authority given the target audience and the psychoanalytic perspective of the book. The references are sufficient and the index is adequate. The division drawn between chapters is sometimes unclear, but the book does provide a chronological and consummate history of the Mormon founder. For the individual interested in a detailed biography of Joseph Smith, Jr. and/or the underpinnings of Mormonism, this book provides a unique perspective. It presents a sensitive psychoanalytic theory regarding the behavior of Joseph Smith, Jr., and stresses insight into how traumatic events can shape individual lives.
Booknews
Morain, a retired plastic surgeon, offers a psychological study of the founder of Mormonism, examining the prophet's enigmatic life in light of current understanding of posttraumatic stress disorder and the dissociation that may accompany it. He argues that pain and trauma from childhood surgeries for a leg bone infection resulted in a permanent pathological distortion of Smith's entire early psychological growth and development, with significant consequences for his adult psychological functioning. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.

2 Stars from Doody
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780880488648
  • Publisher: American Psychiatric Publishing, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/28/1998
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 278
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

William D. Morain, M.D., was educated at Graceland College, Grinnell College, and Harvard Medical School. He trained in surgery at Harvard's Peter Bent Brigham Hospital and Children's Hospital Medical Center and in plastic surgery at Stanford University Medical Center.

Recently retired after two decades of academic practice, Dr. Morain was Professor of Plastic Surgery at Dartmouth Medical School. He has served as President of the Plastic Surgery Educational Foundation and the Northeastern Society of Plastic Surgeons and as Secretary of the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Author of over 100 scientific and literary publications, he currently serves as Editor-in-Chief of the monthly journal Annals of Plastic Surgery.

American Psychiatric Publishing

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Table of Contents

Foreword by John C. Nemiah, M.D. Preface. The prophet. Bloodshed. Strategic defenses. The pleasure of treasure. Trance-lation. His brother's keeper. The arrows of eros. Inalienable rites. Epilogue. Index.

American Psychiatric Publishing

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