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Freud AO1 handout

Freud AO1

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ESSAY TITLE:

Examine how Freud argued that religious belief was a product of the human mind.

Bulleted summary

  • Saw religion as a collective neurosis
  • Religion is an outward expression of inner psychological conflict
  • Each horde was dominated by a jealous male, seizing the women and driving off all rivals
  • In 1913 Freud wrote Totem and Taboo in which he sought to explain the origins of religion in human beings
  • Freud compared the behaviour of patients who suffered from neurosis with religious behaviour
  • The totem was usually an animal and became worshipped.
  • Each generation inherited the guilt resulting from having killed the father or having entertained thoughts of doing so.
  • The young males united and killed the dominant father. After the event they felt guilty.
  • A totem took the place of the father
  • The Father complex could also be explained by the Oedipus Complex
  • Hysterical behaviour akin to worship
  • Phobias and anxieties akin to fear of judgement
  • Obsessive behaviour akin to religious rituals
  • Dreams show repressed wishes
  • Repression explains neurotic behaviour which is then expressed through the belief and practices of religion
  • Religion is based on wish fulfilment of the human unconscious
  • Father figure and authority helps us deal with our fears and our sense of helplessness
“Religion is nothing but psychology projected into the external world.” (Freud)
“A personal God is, psychologically, nothing other than an exalted father.” (Freud)
“Biologically speaking, religiousness is to be traced to the small human child’s long-drawn-out helplessness and need of help…at a later date…when confronted with the great forces of life…he regresses to the force which protected his childhood.” (Freud)
“The ‘longing for the father’ constitutes the root of every form of religion.” (Freud)
“Religion was an attempt to get control over the sensory world, in which we are placed, by means of the wish world, which we have developed inside us as a result of biological and psychological necessities.” (Freud)
“Religion is the universal obsessional neurosis of humanity.” (Freud)
“We recognise that the roots for the need for religion are in the parental complex.” (Freud)
Religious dogmas are illusions “fulfilments of the oldest, strongest and most urgent wishes of mankind.” (Freud)
“The religious life represents a dramatization on a cosmic plane of the emotions, fears and longings which arose in the child’s relation to his parents.” (Ernest Jones)