A Critical Account of Freud’s Understanding of Religion Essay

A Critical Account of Freud’s Understanding of Religion Essay

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Sigmund Freud; Father of the psychoanalytic school of psychology, was not a friend to religious belief. Freud’s understanding of religion, to put it bluntly, was that of an illusion. That is to say, not necessarily false, but developed in response to the need to overcome the conflict between our sexual natures and the nature of civilisation. From this, we can attempt to critique said theory in order to see how “valid” it really is in the face of religion. For Freud’s position to be truly valid, we have to prove that the Oedipus complex is a fully universal sexual trauma, and that buried trauma can really manifest itself in the form of religion. He believed himself to have proved both of these conclusively, and in turn, believed that because of the oppressive nature of religion, it should be overthrown. However, in light of recent research, very few of Freuds theories on religion seem to hold any water. And this is where this essay begins.
The place to start (in theory) is to critique the methodological issues behind Freud. As is common practice in the Psychodynamic field of psychology, Freud developed a generalized version of his theory from a limited amount of very carefully selected case studies, often from patients whom exhibited behaviours of extreme proportions (e.g. The Wolf Man; Sergei Pankejeff) . Although studies of extreme behaviours allow the psychologist to study said behaviours far easier, it would be illogical to assume that the traits exhibited would be applicable to the general public.
Naturally, it can be said that Freud was a man of revolutionary intellect, but his tendency to take mere speculations and present them as facts is the net stop on the disassembly of his theories on religion. Freud used Darwins theo...


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...ncept at best, as most people who engage in distraction activities are more than aware of why and what they are doing it for. To put it simply, I believe that outside of the fundamental ideas of the psychodynamic school (and even occasionally within that branch of psychology) his theories just aren’t applicable.



Works Cited
1. Marcy, L. (Eds) Voelker, “Bronislaw Malinowski,” http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/information/biography/klmno/malinowski_bronislaw.html.
2. Michael Palmer, Freud and Jung on religion (London ;;New York: Routledge, 1997).
3. Cherry, K., “Freud and Religion - Freud's Views on Religion,” http://psychology.about.com/od/sigmundfreud/p/freud_religion.htm.
4. Jordan et, al, Philosophy of religion : for A level, for OCR, OCR ed. (Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes, 2004).
5. “Sigmund Freud - Bibliography,” http://www.freudfile.org/bibliography.html.

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A Critical Account of Freud’s Understanding of Religion Essay

- Sigmund Freud; Father of the psychoanalytic school of psychology, was not a friend to religious belief. Freud’s understanding of religion, to put it bluntly, was that of an illusion. That is to say, not necessarily false, but developed in response to the need to overcome the conflict between our sexual natures and the nature of civilisation. From this, we can attempt to critique said theory in order to see how “valid” it really is in the face of religion. For Freud’s position to be truly valid, we have to prove that the Oedipus complex is a fully universal sexual trauma, and that buried trauma can really manifest itself in the form of religion....   [tags: Psychology]

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