the psychology of the christian martyrs of the roman empire : the case of vibia perpetua

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The Psychology of the Christian Martyrs of the Roman Empire : The Case of Vibia Perpetua. Molly Mazuk Advisor: Dr. David Finkelman St. Mary’s Project. Overview. Literature Review Review of past research In-depth psychological examination of Christian martyrs Psychohistory - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


The Psychology of the Christian Martyrs of the Roman Empire : The Case of Vibia Perpetua

The Psychology of the Christian Martyrs of the Roman Empire : The Case of Vibia PerpetuaMolly MazukAdvisor: Dr. David FinkelmanSt. Marys ProjectOverviewLiterature Review

Review of past research

In-depth psychological examination of Christian martyrsPsychohistory

Lesson PlanChristian Martyrs Religious martyrs are treated with personal biases

Personal religious experiences

Prior to the third century Picture from PerpetuaMartyred in 203 A.D. in Carthage at age 22

Martyred with many others from her community

Wrote an account of her imprisonment

Picture from,r:4,s:0,i:105&tx=50&ty=84 4PsychohistoryProsProvides understanding of the individuals involved

Similarities between humans throughout time New perspectivesConsLimited information available


Fitting information to theories rather than theories to information

Pros: is it really applicable to all people across time because arent their cultural differences that can affect upbringings and motivators

Cons: quality of information, if it is written for particular audiences or information is lost in translation5Topics Dream Analysis

Psychosexual issues

Moral development

Gender identity

Religious Perspective

Pic from a church in Croatia and

6Dream AnalysisFour dreams

Perpetuas interpretationReligious symbolism

Freudian interpretationLatent sexual imageryProblems Daviss (2005) Interpretation


Picture from IssuesOedipus complex in relationship between martyrs and God

Sexual urges that lead to self-harm or suicideMasochisticExhibitionisticNarcissistic

Comparisons to modern psychotic individuals


Moral DevelopmentAdvanced stages of moral developmentKohlbergGilligan

Martyrdom as a pro-social behavior


Gender IdentityGender identity of martyrsMale martyrsFemale martyrs

Masculinizing martyrdom

Conclusions Religious PerspectiveCriticisms of psychological interpretations

Normative Religious Behavior/Religiosity

Martyrdom as an extension of normative religious behavior


Future StudiesOther martyrs

Different psychological methods

Psychological study of modern martyrsSoldiersTerroristsSocial/Political ActivistsEcstatic suicide patients12Questions?ReferencesBarlow, H. (2007). Dead for good: Martyrdom and the rise of the suicide bomber. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers.Barry, C. M., Padilla-Walker, L. M., Madsen, S. D., &Nelson, L. J. (2007). The impact of maternal relationship quality on emerging adults prosocial tendencies: Indirect effects via regulation of prosocial values. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 37. Retrieved from Bradford, D. T. (1990). Early Christian martyrdom and the psychology of depression, suicide, and bodily mutilation. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 27(1), 30-41.Bulkeley, K. (1997). An introduction to the psychology of dreaming. Westport, CT: Praeger.Chadwick, H. (1993). The penguin history of the church: The early church. New York, NY: Penguin Putnam Inc. Church, A. J. & Brodribb, W. J. (2009). The Annals. Retrieved from annals.htmlCobb, L. S. (2008). Dying to be men: Gender and language in early Christian martyr texts. New York, NY: Columbia University Press. Davis, P. M. (2005). The weaning of perpetua: Female embodiment and spiritual growth metaphor in the dream of an early Christian martyr. Dreaming, 15(4), 261-270.Ehrman, B.D. (1999). After the new testament: A reader in early Christianity. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Eisenberg, N., Cumberland, A., Guthrie, I. K., Murphy, B. C. & Shepard, S. A. (2005). Age changes in prosocial responding and moral reasoning in adolescence and early adulthood. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 15 (3), 235-260.Eisenberg, N., Guthrie, I. K., Cumberland, A., Murphy, B. C., Shepard, S. A., Zhou, Q. & Carlo, G. (2002). Prosocial development in early adulthood: A longitudinal study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82(6), 993-1006. Ferrero, M. (2006). Martyrdom contracts. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 50(6), 855-877.Fields, R. M. (2004). The psychology and theology of martyrdom. In C.E. Stout (Ed.), Martyrdom: The psychology, theology, and politics of self-sacrifice (3-22). Westport, CT: Praeger.Freud, S. (1910). The origin and development of psychoanalysis. The American Journals of Psychology, 22(2), 181-218.Gilligan, C. (1977). In a different voice: Womens conceptions of self and morality. Harvard Educational Review 47(4), 481-517.Halsall, P. (1998). Ancient history sourcebook: The ritual cannibalism charge against the Christians. Retrieved from, G. (2007). The power of sacrifice: Roman and Christian discourses in conflict. Washington, D.C: Catholic University of America Press.

ReferencesKohlberg, L., Hersh, R. H. (1977). Moral development: A review of theory. Theory into Practice, 16(2), 53-59.Lefkowitz, M.R. (1976). The motivations for st. perpetuas martyrdom. Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 44(3), 417-421. Lopez, D. A. (2004). Separatist Christianity: Spirit and matter in the early church fathers. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.Maier, P.L. (2007). Eusebius: The church history. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.Maltsberger, J.T. (1997). Ecstatic suicide. Archives of Suicide Research, 3(4), 283-301.Milliken, M. E. & Honeycutt, A. (2004). Understanding human behavior: A guide for health care providers (7th ed.). Clifton Park, NY: Delmar Learning.Moss, C.R. (2010). The other christs: Imitating jesus in ancient Christian ideologies of martyrdom. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Mounteer, C. A. (1981). Guilt, martyrdom, and monasticism. Journal of Psychohistory, 9(2), 145-171.Oden, A. (Ed.). (1994). Acts of the martyrs. In A. Oden (Eds), In her words: Womens writings in the history of Christian thought (38-46). Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.Owens, C. (2004). A literary preamble. In C.E. Stout (Ed.), Martyrdom: The psychology, theology, and politics of self-sacrifice (3-22). Westport, CT: Praeger.Potthoff, S.E. (2009). Refreshment and reunion in paradise: Near-death experiences in early north african Christianity. Journal of Near-Death Studies, 27(3), 141-156.Rousselle, R. (1987). The dreams of vibia perpetua: Analysis of a female Christian martyr. Journal of Psychohistory, 14(3), 193-206.Salisbury, J. E. (1997). Perpetuas passion: The death and memory of a young roman woman. New York, NY: Routledge.Sailsbury, J.E. (2004). The blood of the martyrs: Unintended Consequences of ancient violence. New York, NY: Routledge.Schlabach, G.W. (ed.). (1997). Excerpts from Contra Celsus by Origen. In The Ante-Nicene Fathers, 4. Retrieved from .Shaffer, D. R. (Eds.). (2009). Social and personality development (6th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning. Shaw, B. D. (1993). The passion of perpetua. Past and Present, 139, 3-45. Tam, E. P. C. (1997). Are Christian martyrs abuse victims, neurotics, or suicidal? Comments on the psychological study of Christian martyrdom. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 25(4), 458-467.Thomas, R. M. (1997). Moral development theories- secular and religious: A comparative study. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group. Warneken, F. & Tomasello, M. (2009). The roots of human altruism. British Journal of Psychology, 100, 455-471.Whiston, W. (Trans.) (1987). Letters of pliny the younger and the emperor trajan. In The Works of Josephus. Retrieved from /religion/maps/primary/pliny.html.Wieman, H.N. & Wescott-Wieman, R. (1971). Normative Psychology of Religion. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.