How Shul Reminds Me Of Psycho-Analysis

I’m struck by how at age 45, I keep playing out my family dynamics in the wider world. I keep relating to people through the prism of the way I learned to relate to my parents.

Shul dynamics remind me of psycho-analysis. I’ve never had psycho-analysis, but I have had more than six years of psycho-dynamic psycho-therapy, which is the form of therapy most like psycho-analysis. Through connecting with your therapist, you are reparented. You learn a healthy way of relating to a parental figure and that can transform the way you relate to the wider world.

If you go to shul every day, you tend to form bonds with people and the intimate way you relate to your shul family can change the way you relate to the wider world.

People become precious when you see them every day and when you perform holy rituals with them and when you engage together in the study of sacred text.

You will likely get close to anyone you like and see them every day, but when you’re bound together by an ancient tradition that adds transcendent meaning to your life, then you’re transported to a higher realm. You have the potential of a concrete experience of holiness every day, of sensing your life touching the divine through your interactions with your fellow Jews at prayer and study, and this tends to educate the hardest of hearts such as mine into seeing the image of God in people all around you. Others are no longer trivial and you see every day that certain things possess sanctity and can not be treated carelessly.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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