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Verbum et Ecclesia

On-line version ISSN 2074-7705
Print version ISSN 1609-9982


VIVIERS, Hennie. Psalm 137: Perspectives on the (neuro-) psychology of loss. Verbum Eccles. (Online) [online]. 2010, vol.31, n.1, pp.1-7. ISSN 2074-7705.

The neuro-psychological imperative first implies the formation of neural networks through exposure to the external environment, both physically and ideologically, giving us our 'selves'. It in turn implies the projection of this internal world onto the outer to achieve neuro-environmental consonance. Situations like bereavement, immigration or exile break down this consonance and are accompanied by strong negative emotions. When viewing Psalm 137 through the lens of the neuro-psychological imperative, its intense experience of the loss of land (and 'self') becomes transparent as this psalm vividly recalls the devastating experience of the Babylonian exile. The shocking end of the psalm, detailing the desire for the brutal annihilation of enemy infants, expresses the understandable ideological drive of the exiles to, ironically, retrieve their lost 'selves.' Although understandable as an upholding of the established internal world, the manner in which this is to be achieved is not to be emulated by modern civilised societies.

Keywords : bereavement; exile; neuro-psychological imperative; neural networks; Psalm 137.

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