Freud and Jung on Religion

Freud and Jung on Religion

Freud and Jung on Religion

Freud and Jung on Religion

Synopsis

Michael Palmer provides a detailed account of the theories of religion of both Freud and Jung and sets them side by side for the first timeIn the first section of the text Dr Palmer analyses Freud's claim that religion is an obsessional neurosis - a psychological illness fuelled by sexual repression. The second section considers Jung's rejection of Freud's theory and his own assertion that it is the absence of religion, not its presence, which leads to neurosis.Freud and Jung on Religion is suitable for general and specialist reader alike, as it assumes no prior knowledge of the theories of Freud or Jung and is an invaluable teaching text.

Excerpt

This book began life as a series of lectures delivered over a number of years in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Bristol. Since the original title of the series was ‘Darwin and Freud,’ Jung made only a brief appearance; but gradually, and prompted by my students, this situation changed to the point where Jung had largely usurped Darwin’s position. Not that this was entirely unexpected. If Freud’s attack on religion is justly famous, then Jung’s defence of it is no less celebrated. They remain, in this area at least, the two great protagonists.

This book is not, however, a comparative study between two different psychologies of religion. My primary intention has been to provide two separate accounts which will, I hope, stand on their own, and which will therefore be of use to those seeking fairly detailed information about either Freud or Jung. But here I should add a word of caution. Some comparisons between Freud and Jung are inevitable and helpful, and I shall often make them. One of these, however, should be stated at the beginning. This is between Freud’s clarity and Jung’s all too frequent lack of it. With that in mind, I have often used a summary of Freud’s position to clarify Jung’s. This has inevitably upset the balance between the two parts of this work: the shorter section on Freud contains next to nothing on Jung, but the longer section on Jung contains a good deal on Freud. This is not done to establish Freud’s historical or conceptual priority—which Jungians would certainly protest about—but solely in order to overcome, or at least ameliorate, the notorious complexities of Jung’s thought. In Jung’s case, I have also taken the small liberty of highlighting important concepts by the use of a capital letter—hence Self, Persona, Anima, and so on. Again, there is no textual warrant for this, and it is done solely to aid comprehension.

Various other matters should be mentioned here. In attempting to cut the two sections of this book down to manageable size, I have had to make some omissions. I do not, for example, go into all the ramifications of Freud’s account of the aetiology of hysteria and symptom-formation, and I have only made passing reference to Jung’s theory of complexes and his analysis of attitude and function types. Nor do I go into details about the various editions

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