Kierkegaard as Physician of the Soul: On Self-forgiveness and Despair

Volume
Volume 37
Issue
Fall 2009
Title
Kierkegaard as Physician of the Soul: On Self-forgiveness and Despair
Abstract

Despair (sickness of the spirit) and divine forgiveness are decisive psychological and theological themes essential to both Soren Kierkegaard's relational vision of "the self before God" and his own personal struggles with guilt and the consciousness of sin. Reading Kierkegaard as both a physician and a patient of this struggle, therefore, this article examines The Sickness unto Death (1849) as an attempt to resolve the sinful "self" by integrating a psychological perspetive on despair with a theology of the forgiveness of sins. It is suggested that by presenting this integrative notion of self-knowledge through the "higher" Christian pseudonym of Anti-Climacus, Kierkegaard is indicting his own resistances to accepting divine forgiveness and thereby operating-- via a "higher" pastoral identity-- as a physician to his own soul. By diagnosing the unconscious psychological and theological relationships between sin/forgiveness, offense, and human impossibility/divine possibility, Kierkegaard finally reveals faith--as a self-surrendering recognition of acceptance before the Holy Other--to be the key to unlocking the enigma of the self in despair.

Author
Dr. S.D. Podmore
Pages
174 - 185
Price
Add to Cart $5.00