Michael Gellert

Legacy of Darkness and Light

Our Cultural Icons and Their God Complex

Legacy of Darkness and Light
Now Available

"A fascinating exploration of what the God of the Old Testament might tell us about ourselves."
   —Kirkus Reviews

What do Niccolo Machiavelli, Abraham Lincoln, Martha Stewart, Vladimir Putin, and Mel Gibson have in common? In their own ways, they each resemble the stormy God of the Hebrew Bible, Yahweh—known as the Father in the New Testament and Allah in the Qur'an. Whether or not we believe in his existence, we are all susceptible to the Yahweh complex, a distinct god complex modeled upon his attitudes, emotional style, and behaviors. Like the deity itself, the complex can be positive or dark, influencing our relationships, our social environment and culture, our public affairs and international relations, our treatment of the earth, and, of course, our religions. Legacy of Darkness and Light explores both sides of this complex. Drawing upon the experiences of famous individuals as well as the larger factors that shape history, the book aims to help us recognize and understand our own Yahweh complex in order to deal with it in a healthy, conscious, and self-empowered way.


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Prologue: The God of Our Fathers
I. Yahweh in Our Souls
  1. How to Recognize the Yahweh Complex
  2. Master of the Universe: The Young Bill Gates
  3. Eliot Spitzer's Fall
  4. Schopenhauer's Gloom

II. Yahweh in Our Relationships
  1. Was Freud Truly a "Godless Jew"?
  2. The Marriage of Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio
  3. The Breakup of the Beatles
  4. The Rolling Stones' Relationship with Yahweh

III. Yahweh in Our Midst
  1. The Bully and the Prince
  2. Legalists, Fundamentalists, and Moral Perfectionists
  3. The Sacrilege of Holy War
  4. The Embers of Western and Islamic Imperialism

IV. God Bless Yahweh
  1. The Calling of Winston Churchill
  2. The Solomonic Wisdom of Abraham Lincoln
  3. Bob Dylan's Apocalyptic Sensibility
  4. How to Live with Our Yahweh Complex

Epilogue: Globalization and the Yahweh Complex
Appendix I: A List of the Main Features of the Yahweh Complex
Appendix II: A Partial List of Apocalyptic Songs in Rock 'n' Roll
Author's Note


"Legacy of Darkness and Light is not only fascinating and full of provocative insights but also a thoroughly enjoyable read. Michael Gellert's understanding of the importance of the god complex in the contemporary psyche and the world is presented in a very clear, down-to-earth and convincing way. With his impressive erudition and unique perspective on facts we all know but don't interpret deeply enough, he conveys a real 'feel' for this complex and its manifestations. Most revolutionary is his radical approach to political and historical events as the collective acting out of a deeply rooted psychological complex. If you want to learn a new and timely way of looking at and thinking about the world around you, read this book."
   —Gary Granger, Humanities Professor Emeritus, Vanier College, Montreal

"Exploring the biblical God's impact on Western and Islamic civilization, this is a remarkable book. It shows how the Yahweh complex—named after the god of the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament—emerges in modern times in the lives of Sigmund Freud, Marilyn Monroe, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Winston Churchill, and many others. This fine book also helps us to recognize and live with our own Yahweh complex."
   —David H. Rosen, MD, author of Transforming Depression and The Tao of Jung

"Gellert approaches his subject from a secular perspective, blending psychological analysis with cultural criticism, and his buoyant prose remains accessible even when discussing heady concepts . . . a compelling read. One comes away with the sense that while humans may be made in Yahweh's image, that isn't necessarily a good thing. A fascinating exploration of what the God of the Old Testament might tell us about ourselves."
   —Kirkus Reviews

"This book is a powerful exposition of a dangerous complex that possesses many political leaders. I wish all aspiring politicians would read Michael Gellert's important book. It reveals the feet of clay of many people in positions of power."
   —Lionel Corbett, MD, professor of psychology, Pacifica Graduate Institute, and author of The God-Image: From Antiquity to Jung

"Legacy of Darkness and Light is an intense, serious and sophisticated book. It is a stunning description of how the world works from a viewpoint you have probably never considered. It will reclassify your perceptions in a truly deepening way."
   —Ann Walker, PhD, Book Review Editor, Psychological Perspectives: A Journal of Global Consciousness Integrating Psyche, Soul, and Nature

"In a powerful, fearless text about the human condition, Michael Gellert confronts us with sweeping views of history as well as up-close, personal encounters with our darkness. Through the prisms of our flawed selves, he shows how light can emerge, giving us a sense of individual significance and a capacity for the making of meaning. Together with his intense, ruthless insights, he offers compassionate illustrations of personhood in a process of becoming."
   —Beverley Zabriskie, Jungian Analyst, Jungian Psychoanalytic Association, New York

"Reading any book of Michael Gellert's will take precious moments of your life that you will never regret."
   —Charles T. Zeltzer, PhD, Jungian analyst and alchemy scholar