Religion from A Psychoanalytical View

Nov 2016
480
Germany
#1
From a psychoanalytical point of view, all consciousness phenomena are influenced by unconscious factors. The amount of these factors in the development of the phenomena is estimated differently by the various psychoanalytic schools. The Lacan School, which I follow in this and other points, assumes that consciousness has no influence whatsoever on its content (those phenomena). But even under the premise of a certain degree of control, the influence of unconscious factors far outweighs the influence of consciousness. Therefore all consciousness phenomena can be traced back to their their unconscious sources - also and especially the religious ideas.

With regard to Judaism and Christianity, Freud recognized early on that there are significant parallels between obsessional neuroses and Judaeo-Christian ideas. For Freud, compulsive neurosis has the traits of a private religion and Jewish and Christianity have the traits of a collective compulsive neurosis. The structural basis of the monotheistic worship of God is in Freud´s view the Oedipus complex.

Some followers of Freud, e.g. Theodor Reik, Ernest Jones, Otto Rank and Erich Fromm, refined Freud's approach under certain aspects. Taking over Freud's application of the Oedipus complex to the worship of God, Reik sees in this worship an unconscious hatred of the overpowering father figure at work. This hatred is redirected (projected) out of fear of divine punishment to the alleged ´enemies´ of the Father God, which explains the typical monotheistic fanaticism and hatred of unbelievers, which was completely unknown in polytheistic cultures.

The fact that important deities in religions have a father or mother function justifies the use of psychoanalytic categories in the investigation of unconscious factors of origin. The Muslim side likes to emphasize that Allah is genderless and not a father figure, but this is quite debatable. Allah is functionally quite clearly a modification of the fatherly Jewish und Christian gods, however complemented by strong maternal features.

Since the earliest (archaic) deities were initially exclusively female and were functionally superior to the first male deities for a long time, female aspects of God (maternal and sexually) naturally also play a considerable role in the analysis of religious ideas. They have also not disappeared from the Judeo-Christian theology, but are recognizable according to the principle of the return of the suppressed in certain phenomena. This is very clear in the case of the figure of Mary, who in the late Middle Ages was worshipped even more intimately than her alleged son, Christ. Since masculine monotheism implies a demonization of the feminine (beginning with Eve), Marian devotion is to be diagnosed as a symptom of the manifestation of an early childhood dissociation of consciousness, which separates the feminine into ´good´ and ´evil´, which is shown in the Middle Ages in the idealization of Mary and the simultaneous demonization of women persecuted and extremely sadistically murdered as ´witches´ (analytically comprehensible as projections of the ´good´ and the ´bad breast ´ due to Melanie Klein's theory, as featured below.

From a psychoanalytic point of view, the apocalyptic phantasm, as it has taken on the form especially in the John apocalypse, can be explained as follows (simplified version, notabene).

It is based on an unconscious desire to return to the sensory world of the unborn child, popularly said: after return ´into the womb´. Of course, the desire does not aim at the stay in a biological womb, but at the realization of the paradisiacal feelings felt there, which are stored in the unconscious and form an underground source of desires and fantasies throughout one's life. The psychological urge after this return (hereinafter referred to in this metaphorical meaning) is called ´regressiv´. Other later goals of regressive desires and fantasies are the oral stage (from birth to weaning) with its fixation on the mother's breast and the anal stage (phase of hygienic education) with its fixation on anal processes. Both the oral and anal phases are - among others - characterized by a ´sadistic´ emotional world, i.e. acts of destruction and ejection are perceived as aggressive and sensual at the same time. In the oral case this is connected with the act of destroying the desired (milk) and an aggressive urge for the desired, in the anal case with the hatred of the educating person, usually the mother, because of their demand for reluctance and control of the stool felt as hostile. Sadistic desires in adulthood mean a pathological regression into these phases: The destructive factor here goes back to the oral and the control and power factor to the anal, both connected with a primitive lust, as it is also experienced by the infant.

At this point the question arises, from which source aggression feeds originally or how it originally arose. Freud developed the death instinct theory in 1920, according to which there are two innate instincts, Eros and Thanatos, the first aimed at life, the second at the death of the organism. Special manifestations of aggression, such as oral or anal, are accordingly only manifestations of the death instinct. Other theories are based on a frustration-aggression model, according to which aggression is not congenital, but arises in response to denial. I prefer the theory that aggression is a consequence of birth trauma: the extreme fear experience of the child during childbirth generates a considerable reservoir of aggressive energy, which forms the source of later aggressive ideas and behaviour.

According to psychoanalyst Melanie Klein, in the so-called ´paranoid-schizoid´ phase (first half year of life) the infant develops a split mother image: it internalizes the positive experiences with the mother as a ´good object´ (good breast) and the negative experiences (frustrations) as ´bad object´ (bad breast). Both objects are unconnected and can become the unconscious source of idealization (projection of the good object onto certain persons or ideas) and demonization (projection of the evil object onto certain persons or ideas) in adulthood. This can be seen, for example, in the medieval idealization of the ´virgin mother Mary´ and the simultaneous psychotic demonization of women persecuted and extremely sadistically murdered as ´witches´. One can relate the postnatal inner object of ´bad breast´ - going beyond Klein - with the still original complex of ideas and feelings of the prenatal ´paradise´ and consider the former as a derivation of the latter.

The transition from the prenatal mother's womb paradise (resp. those aspects of the womb felt as paradisaical) to a separate postnatal existence with extreme aggression-generating fear can easily be related to the basic structure of the ideas of the Revelation of John: here again a lustful and extremely aggressive destructiveness (the complete destruction of the enemies of God) is adjacent to the perfect paradise of the ´New Jerusalem´ - just the order is reversed. In the apocalyptic phantasm, an inversion of ontogenetic pre- and postnatal processes is staged on a cosmic scale: prerequisite for entering the paradise is to go through a phase of ultimate destruction.

The ´enemies´ are enemies of the ´good object´ (good breast, good mother) and thereofre of the prenatal womb. In the Revelation of John the New Jerusalem has both the role of ´good breast/mother´ and, in a deeper layer, of the prenatal womb or the feelings associated with it. The New Jerusalem is described as ´bride´ of Christ, which clearly indicates a deep sexual structure.

At the same time, the New Jerusalem (the Bride of Christ) takes in all believers to offer them an existence in perfect bliss, clearly indicating her (the Bride´s) prenatal-motherly function. Characteristic of the New Jerusalem is its complete transparency, the uniformity of its inhabitants and its encapsulation by a wall. This stands in stark contrast to the individualism and pluralism of non-Christian cultures, characteristics that were perceived as hostile to God or as satanic in Christianity at that time.
 

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
#3
From a psychoanalytical point of view, all consciousness phenomena are influenced by unconscious factors. The amount of these factors in the development of the phenomena is estimated differently by the various psychoanalytic schools. The Lacan School, which I follow in this and other points, assumes that consciousness has no influence whatsoever on its content (those phenomena). But even under the premise of a certain degree of control, the influence of unconscious factors far outweighs the influence of consciousness. Therefore all consciousness phenomena can be traced back to their their unconscious sources - also and especially the religious ideas.

With regard to Judaism and Christianity, Freud recognized early on that there are significant parallels between obsessional neuroses and Judaeo-Christian ideas. For Freud, compulsive neurosis has the traits of a private religion and Jewish and Christianity have the traits of a collective compulsive neurosis. The structural basis of the monotheistic worship of God is in Freud´s view the Oedipus complex.

Some followers of Freud, e.g. Theodor Reik, Ernest Jones, Otto Rank and Erich Fromm, refined Freud's approach under certain aspects. Taking over Freud's application of the Oedipus complex to the worship of God, Reik sees in this worship an unconscious hatred of the overpowering father figure at work. This hatred is redirected (projected) out of fear of divine punishment to the alleged ´enemies´ of the Father God, which explains the typical monotheistic fanaticism and hatred of unbelievers, which was completely unknown in polytheistic cultures.

The fact that important deities in religions have a father or mother function justifies the use of psychoanalytic categories in the investigation of unconscious factors of origin. The Muslim side likes to emphasize that Allah is genderless and not a father figure, but this is quite debatable. Allah is functionally quite clearly a modification of the fatherly Jewish und Christian gods, however complemented by strong maternal features.

Since the earliest (archaic) deities were initially exclusively female and were functionally superior to the first male deities for a long time, female aspects of God (maternal and sexually) naturally also play a considerable role in the analysis of religious ideas. They have also not disappeared from the Judeo-Christian theology, but are recognizable according to the principle of the return of the suppressed in certain phenomena. This is very clear in the case of the figure of Mary, who in the late Middle Ages was worshipped even more intimately than her alleged son, Christ. Since masculine monotheism implies a demonization of the feminine (beginning with Eve), Marian devotion is to be diagnosed as a symptom of the manifestation of an early childhood dissociation of consciousness, which separates the feminine into ´good´ and ´evil´, which is shown in the Middle Ages in the idealization of Mary and the simultaneous demonization of women persecuted and extremely sadistically murdered as ´witches´ (analytically comprehensible as projections of the ´good´ and the ´bad breast ´ due to Melanie Klein's theory, as featured below.

From a psychoanalytic point of view, the apocalyptic phantasm, as it has taken on the form especially in the John apocalypse, can be explained as follows (simplified version, notabene).

It is based on an unconscious desire to return to the sensory world of the unborn child, popularly said: after return ´into the womb´. Of course, the desire does not aim at the stay in a biological womb, but at the realization of the paradisiacal feelings felt there, which are stored in the unconscious and form an underground source of desires and fantasies throughout one's life. The psychological urge after this return (hereinafter referred to in this metaphorical meaning) is called ´regressiv´. Other later goals of regressive desires and fantasies are the oral stage (from birth to weaning) with its fixation on the mother's breast and the anal stage (phase of hygienic education) with its fixation on anal processes. Both the oral and anal phases are - among others - characterized by a ´sadistic´ emotional world, i.e. acts of destruction and ejection are perceived as aggressive and sensual at the same time. In the oral case this is connected with the act of destroying the desired (milk) and an aggressive urge for the desired, in the anal case with the hatred of the educating person, usually the mother, because of their demand for reluctance and control of the stool felt as hostile. Sadistic desires in adulthood mean a pathological regression into these phases: The destructive factor here goes back to the oral and the control and power factor to the anal, both connected with a primitive lust, as it is also experienced by the infant.

At this point the question arises, from which source aggression feeds originally or how it originally arose. Freud developed the death instinct theory in 1920, according to which there are two innate instincts, Eros and Thanatos, the first aimed at life, the second at the death of the organism. Special manifestations of aggression, such as oral or anal, are accordingly only manifestations of the death instinct. Other theories are based on a frustration-aggression model, according to which aggression is not congenital, but arises in response to denial. I prefer the theory that aggression is a consequence of birth trauma: the extreme fear experience of the child during childbirth generates a considerable reservoir of aggressive energy, which forms the source of later aggressive ideas and behaviour.

According to psychoanalyst Melanie Klein, in the so-called ´paranoid-schizoid´ phase (first half year of life) the infant develops a split mother image: it internalizes the positive experiences with the mother as a ´good object´ (good breast) and the negative experiences (frustrations) as ´bad object´ (bad breast). Both objects are unconnected and can become the unconscious source of idealization (projection of the good object onto certain persons or ideas) and demonization (projection of the evil object onto certain persons or ideas) in adulthood. This can be seen, for example, in the medieval idealization of the ´virgin mother Mary´ and the simultaneous psychotic demonization of women persecuted and extremely sadistically murdered as ´witches´. One can relate the postnatal inner object of ´bad breast´ - going beyond Klein - with the still original complex of ideas and feelings of the prenatal ´paradise´ and consider the former as a derivation of the latter.

The transition from the prenatal mother's womb paradise (resp. those aspects of the womb felt as paradisaical) to a separate postnatal existence with extreme aggression-generating fear can easily be related to the basic structure of the ideas of the Revelation of John: here again a lustful and extremely aggressive destructiveness (the complete destruction of the enemies of God) is adjacent to the perfect paradise of the ´New Jerusalem´ - just the order is reversed. In the apocalyptic phantasm, an inversion of ontogenetic pre- and postnatal processes is staged on a cosmic scale: prerequisite for entering the paradise is to go through a phase of ultimate destruction.

The ´enemies´ are enemies of the ´good object´ (good breast, good mother) and thereofre of the prenatal womb. In the Revelation of John the New Jerusalem has both the role of ´good breast/mother´ and, in a deeper layer, of the prenatal womb or the feelings associated with it. The New Jerusalem is described as ´bride´ of Christ, which clearly indicates a deep sexual structure.

At the same time, the New Jerusalem (the Bride of Christ) takes in all believers to offer them an existence in perfect bliss, clearly indicating her (the Bride´s) prenatal-motherly function. Characteristic of the New Jerusalem is its complete transparency, the uniformity of its inhabitants and its encapsulation by a wall. This stands in stark contrast to the individualism and pluralism of non-Christian cultures, characteristics that were perceived as hostile to God or as satanic in Christianity at that time.

A lot of Freud has been totally discredited by modern scientist. While recently some have partly come to think that Freud might have some useful insights, many, most scientist today wouldn't accept Freud's theories total.

Actually, incontrast to other religions, Christianity actually promoted a. Individualism lacking in in many non Christian religions. Chridtiaity stressed individual inward devotion that has no readily apparent outward signs, while many other religions merely require performing outward rituals. Religions such as the ancient Roman religion, were heavily Civic in nature, and did not really care about the inner mental state as long as the proper outward shows of obedience were performed.

I find Freud full of nonsense, with Freud projecting his own neroisis on others. It was Freud who was hung up about his mother, not humans in general. Many scientific experiments have contradicted many of Freud's claims.
 
Jun 2012
7,067
Malaysia
#4
LOL. You do hv a point there, Bart Dale. I mean, when as a kid I was hungry for my mother's milk, I was just hungry for milk, man. No need for any Freud clone or Freud wannabe to psychonalyse me why. And I wud not hv minded it at all, if someone else's mother offered some of hers to me that time.

I was in fact even told by my mother, that I was occasionally gvn to suckle by a comparatively close woman relative in our village, in whose care I was sometimes placed, when my mother went to work. Her father was like my mother's second cousin or something like that, while her father's sister was married to an uncle of mine. The woman also happened to hv a daughter the same age as I.
 
Last edited:
Aug 2010
15,254
Welsh Marches
#6
So much tendentious and pretentious bosh has got mixed in with the genuine insights in Freudian and related forms of psychoanalysis that it is hardly worth the trouble to try to disentangle it!
 

Similar History Discussions