Freud vs. Ilych
Image you are on your deathbed and you are terrified of something or nothing happening to you after you are gone. Do you suddenly believe in a God, or do you count your blessings and just pass on? I feel that Freud would just have counted his blessings. Freud's critiques on religion are related to Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilych in such that helplessness was a neurosis.
According to Freud, humans belonged to civilization to control nature and to regulate human relations. In Ivan's case he was trying to fit in a society that he did not blend with. However, Freud claimed that humans have often paid a great price for civilization; this price, he believed, was neurosis. Ivan's neurosis was all work and no play, which ate at him on his death bed. He needed something to believe in, i.e. God, in order to die peacefully. Freud suggested that religion and ethics, to this point, have acted to maintain civilization, as was Ivan's struggle. Freud also proposed that humans were helpless before the forces of nature and thus "needed" something to protect them. Thus, he concluded that religion has sprung out of helplessness and therefore was unhealthy to the individual. As seen with Ivan's suffering on his deathbed. Freudian criticism of belief in God is that such a belief is untrustworthy because of its psychological origin. That is, God is a projection of our own intense, unconscious desires; He is a wish fulfillment derived from childish needs for protection and security. This protection and security is what Ivan was looking for as he was leaving the world, as he knew it. The terrifying impression of helplessness in childhood aroused the need for protection through love-which was provided by the father.
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... his last rights.), the latter of which functioned to protect the ego from the emergence of fantasies, and desires. Freud saw "neurosis as an individual religion, religion as a universal obsessional neurosis. This neurosis plagued Ivan Ilych at the end of his life. Freud called religion: ...the suppression, the renunciation, of certain instinctual impulses.
Freud's theories include scientific thinking, which can have non-rational sources and can be indicative of wishful thinking. As with Ivan wishing that he had done something meaningful with his life. Convictions, no matter how strong, must be capable of being refined, modified and even abandoned if necessary. Ivan Ilych was in a struggle with his beliefs, which made the remainder of his life full of suffering. This led Ivan to the feeling of helplessness, which brings us full circle to Freud's critique.