A-Freud World

Freud and Religion

Not only due to the time, but because of freud being Jewish, religion played a central role in his successes and downfalls. Freud saw God as an illusion that was to be replaced by science and reason due to the advancement of the civilisation. Freud claimed to have estranged himself from any and every religion, but still identified as a Jew. He faced antisemitism in his university years- “I found thatI was expected to feel myself inferior and an alien because I was a Jew.”

Freud wrote extensively, not only in general, but also particularly on religion. Several of his writingscontain explanations for and against religion.

In Obsessive Actions and Religious Practices (1907), Freud proposed an analogy between neurosis and religion, calling ritualistic behaviour a ‘universal obsessional neurosis’. In Totem and Taboo, he wrote about incest and patricide and taboos created to curb them. In An Autobiographical Study Freud elaborated on the core idea of Totem and Taboo: “This view of religion throws a particularly clear light upon the psychological basis of Christianity, in which, it may be added, the ceremony of the totem-feast still survives with but little distortion in the form of Communion. In The Future of an
Illusion (1927), Freud refers to religion as an illusion which is “perhaps the most important item in the psychical inventory of a civilization”

Freud touched on religion in Civilization and its Discontents, Moses and Monotheism, The Question of a Weltanschauung, and like every other concept of his, Freud generated ample conjecture on his views on religion too.

Several psychoanalysts built on Freud’s view on religion. n a 1950 book entitled Christianity and Freud, Benjamin Gilbert Sanders draws parallels between the theory of psychoanalysis and Christian religion, referring to Jesus Christ as “the Great Psychiatrist” and Christians’ love for Christ as “a more positive form of the Transference. Several however, disagreed , like Alfred Adler who believed God was a projection which had been helpful to humanity”.


~ Harsiddhi Thakral (1733232) & Apoorva Nag (1733228)

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