Samson's complex: The compulsion to re‐enact betrayal and rage

Ilan Kutz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A comparison of the life story of a psychotherapy patient to that of biblical Samson reveals that both men suffer from a behavioural disturbance, manifested in the compulsion to re‐enact the experience of betrayal by women, followed by destructive attacks of rage against others, and ultimately against their own tormented selves. The author tracks the origin of repetition compulsion to its proposed psychobiological foundations of attachment‐formation and its development. Samson's complex is viewed as a deep‐seated, characterological defect, stemming from faulty object relations and leading to existential despair and suicidal longing. The existence of a detailed psychopathological phenomenology embedded in timeless biblical lore denotes once more the alliance between myth and psychology. And if I ever lose my eyes I won't have to cry no more. Cat Stevens, from the song ‘ Moon Shadow ’ 1989 The British Psychological Society

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-134
Number of pages12
JournalBritish Journal of Medical Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1989
Externally publishedYes


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