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date: 29 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

While Freudian psychoanalysis is famous for its negative evaluation of religion, many contemporary analytic schools reject this view, regarding religion positively. Interestingly, both critical and positive psychoanalytic approaches to religion are based on the idea that religious belief is an illusion. This chapter explores these approaches, their development, and the thinking that underlies them especially in relation to the notion of truth and the personal quest for it. It sheds light on the complexity of Freud’s thinking on truth and conviction and draws attention to a neglected dimension that is crucial to his understanding of religion. The chapter points to the fact that despite fundamental differences, the Freudian world view has more affinity with that of the religious believer than commonly thought. In turn, the world views of the psychoanalytic schools which have regarded religion positively are actually opposed to those of most believers.

Keywords: Freud, religion, conviction, doubt, truth, psychoanalysis, illusion, spiritual experience, Winnicott, Moses and Monotheism

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