Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud:  The Physicians of Culture

– by Robinson Lilienthal, PhD, Rutgers University, Object Relations Institute

Thursday, May 31st 2018 @3:30 pm - 4:20 pm   Room 910



Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud were the master cultural physicians of the late 19th – early 20th centuries. Their work provided a compelling symptomatology, diagnosis, prognosis, and therapy of their patient: modern European civilization. We owe our current understanding of alienation, nihilism, and neurosis to their probing insight; and the social sciences remain profoundly in their debt, including psychohistorical analysis. The medical metaphor underlying their theories, however, requires a clinical examination: how valid and useful is this metaphor for present and future research?


Learning Points:

At the end of this educational activity, its participants will be able to:

1) analyze and discuss the ideas of Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud as examples of clinical work, at the level of society and culture, rather than of the individual;

2) identify the symptoms of societal diseases through the ideas of Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud.



Borch-Jacobsen, M., & Shamdasani, S.(2012). The Freud files: An inquiry into the history of psychoanalysis. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 179–180

Campbell, J. (1965). The masks of god: Occidental mythology. London, UK: Secker & Warburg.

Freud, S. (1995). The basic writings of Sigmund Freud (Psychopathology of Everyday Life, the Interpretation of Dreams, and Three Contributions to the Theory of Sex). NY, NY: Modern Library Publishing Co.

Freud, S. (2010). Moses and monotheism. Eastford, CT: Martino Fine Books.

Hoezzee, S. E. (2018). Are We Faking It? What Freud, Marx, and Nietzsche can teach us about our faith. Retrieved from https://www.reformedworship.org/article/december-1994/are-we-faking-it-what-freud-marx-and-nietzsche-can-teach-us-about-our-faith

Hughes, B. (2016, June 14). Forward thinkers: How Marx, Nietzsche and Freud shaped the lives of millions. BBC Four Series. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/4CVpPWQkwbDzt4w2RjNHf2S/forward-thinkers-how-marx-nietzsche-and-freud-shaped-the-lives-of-millions

Marx, K., Engels, F.; & Tucker, R. C. (Ed.) (1978). The Marx-Engels reader (Second Edition). NY, NY: W. W. Norton & Company.

Nietzsche, F., & Hollingdale, R.J. (Translator) (1978). The Nietzsche reader (Penguin Classics). NY, NY: Penguin Books.

RICKYWC22 (blogger) (2015). Atheists Marx, Freud, and Nietzsche had something in common with Jesus, they called out pharisees. Retrieved from: https://rickywc22.wordpress.com/2015/10/11/atheists-marx-freud-and-nietzsche-had-something-in-common-with-jesus-they-called-out-pharisees/

Waller, M. (2015). Marx and Nietzsche: Beyond the bourgeois world’s Yes’s and No’s. Retrieved from: http://spectre-online.org/beyond-the-bourgeois-worlds-yess-and-nos/

Westphal, M. (1998). Suspicion & faith: The religious uses of modern atheism. NY, NY: Fordham University Press.

Williams, R. (1983). Freudian psychology. In A. Richardson & J. Bowden, A New Dictionary of Christian Theology, London, UK: SCM Press, p. 220.

Yerushalmi, Y (1991). Freud's Moses: Terminable and interminable. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.


Bio of the Presenter:

Robinson Lilienthal, PhD is a professor emeritus of philosophy, world religions, and applied ethics (including environmental, engineering, biomedical, and business) for thirty years; twenty of them – at Rutgers University. He is the scholar of Nietzsche, the environmental public policy consultant, and a public speaker.  Dr. Lilienthal is a scientific faculty member at the Object Relations Institute for Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis (ORI) since 2009. His first contributions to the ORI community were the ones he did together with late Dr. Jeffrey Seinfeld on the “Creative Use of Melancholia” and on “Psychoanalytic Explorations in Brothers Karamazov.” He is currently working in the field of global cultural artifacts and their possible therapeutic application, and teaches courses on global cultural artifacts at the Object Relations Institute for Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis.


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