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Body, Blood and Sexuality

A Psychoanalytic Study of St. Francis' Stigmata and their Historical Context


Nitza Yarom

In 1224 St. Francis had his stigmata, the first stigmata in history. These spontaneous bleeding wounds, which model those of the crucified Jesus, can be considered a symptom of conversion-hysteria. According to Freud's concept of hysteria, the body, through the symptom, conveys the message of an underlying conflict, which is primarily sexual, an outcry of frustrated femininity. The stigmata of St. Francis raises two major questions: that of the psychological makeup to enable the development of such a hysterical symptom, and that of the historical context which institutionalized a bodily manifestation to answer the needs and conflicts of its time. This book answers both questions through the use of the same psychoanalytic model.
Contents: «Body, Blood & Sexuality» presents and psychoanalyzes St. Francis and his historical context to explain the stigmata as a symptom of hysteria signifying conflicts over sexuality, femininity and masculinity.