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The Future of Religion and Illusion: Psychoanalytic Trends

The Future of Religion and Illusion: Psychoanalytic Trends (2008 - Mario Aletti)


In recent years post-Freudian psychoanalysis has shifted its focus of interest from the origins of religion as a cultural phenomenon to a concentration on personal religion in the case-history of the individual. This change becomes evident when one analyzes the most recent contributions from psychoanalysts of different schools. The idea that psychoanalysis of religion can be fruitful only when it refers to a personal developmental path has gained increasing acceptance. The first benefit of this change is the possibility it allows for circumventing all arguments about the truth value of religious beliefs. To achieve this aim, many authors adopt the notion of the “illusory transitional phenomenon” introduced by Donald W.Winnicott. While the importance of this concept is pointed out here, some problems that it entails are analyzed. Another recent trend involves the interaction of psychoanalysis with the neurosciences, cultural psychology, and attachment theory. Examples are presented and critically appraised as to their promise for understanding religiosity in individuals.