Psychoanalytic Studies of Religion: A Critical Assessment and Annotated Bibliography

Psychoanalytic Studies of Religion: A Critical Assessment and Annotated Bibliography

Psychoanalytic Studies of Religion: A Critical Assessment and Annotated Bibliography

Psychoanalytic Studies of Religion: A Critical Assessment and Annotated Bibliography


The first critical guide to the essential literature reflecting and expressing psychoanalytic approaches to religion, this volume concentrates on critical assessments that steer the user toward works of lasting value. The book's first priority is to include publications clearly aimed at continuing the Freudian tradition and contributing to the psychoanalytic study of religion. The book will be of interest to scholars and students of psychology and religion as well as the general reader who is seeking works on those topics. Most of the psychoanalytic literature in English since 1920 is included and is organized in 21 topical sections. Cross-references and indexes increase the usefulness of the work.


We could say much the same thing for the psychology of religion as a whole: too naturalistic and scientific for the religious, too religious for the psychologists. Yet for the psychology of religion the outcome is not popularity. Although a surprisingly large proportion of the world's most eminent psychologists have made significant contributions to it, the psychology of religion is often neglected, if not treated with condescension or contempt.

--David M. Wulff Psychology of Religion

[Freud] underwent a long and intense introspective period, characterized by tension between a religious ethos and the secular, modern ethos. This tension was resolved by the creation of an utterly new system of ideas which were neither religious in any traditional or conventional sense nor scientific in the sense of the exact science of nineteenth century physics and chemistry, but which were, as we are accustomed to say today, psychological in nature.

--Peter Homans, A Personal Struggle with Religion

The psychoanalytic study of religion and its parent discipline, the psychology of religion, evoke a broad spectrum of responses from both scholars and the general public. Social scientists, for example, sometimes dismiss the psychology of religion as being unscientific; equally, many religious professionals discount the findings of psychology and psychoanalysis as anti religious. As one wag has said, psychology is nothing more than a psycho-phantasmagoris pseudo-science that seeks to tell us what we already know intuitively in language that we do not understand. Add to this popular perception of psychology the conservative religious view that psychology and psychoanalysis are destructive of belief and faith, and one sees that the psychology of religion has enjoyed a rather negative reputation in many circles. in our view such dichotomous reactions to both the psychology and the psychoanalytic study of religion go back to the very origins of these complementary disciplines, as a bridge between what Homans terms a "religious ethos" and a "secular, modern ethos." True, sometimes repudiation of religion results from the psychoanalytic study of it, but equally often there is an assimilation of ideas from both psychology and religion in which one informs the other. "From my studies of the lives of the first psychologists, I am inclined to arrive at the conclusion that these psychologies not . . .

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