Psychoanalysis and Religion in the 21st Century: Competitors or Collaborators?, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Psychoanalysis and Religion in the 21st Century

Competitors or Collaborators?, 1st Edition

Edited by David M. Black


296 pages

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What can be gained from a dialogue between psychoanalysis and religion?

Freud described religion as the universal obsessional neurosis, and uncompromisingly rejected it in favour of "science." Ever since, there has been the assumption that psychoanalysts are hostile to religion. Yet, from the beginning, individual analysts have questioned Freud's blanket rejection of religion.

In this book, David Black brings together contributors from a wide range of schools and movements to discuss the issues. They bring a fresh perspective to the subject of religion and psychoanalysis, answering vital questions such as:

  • How do religious stories carry (or distort) psychological truth?
  • How do religions 'work', psychologically?
  • What is the nature of religious experience?
  • Are there parallels between psychoanalysis and particular religious traditions?

Psychoanalysis and Religion in the 21st Century will be of great interest to psychoanalysts, psychoanalytic therapists, psychodynamic counsellors, and anyone interested in the issues surrounding psychoanalysis, religion, theology and spirituality.


"What makes this book remarkable is the even-handed nature of the discussion and the wide variety of standpoints from which the 14 contributors approach their chosen topics … this collection is packed with stimulating contributions." - Christopher MacKenna, British Association of Psychotherapists, London

"David Black has gathered together a selection of profound and important writings on religious faith and psychoanalysis. It is a contribution to our thinking that I warmly welcome and recommend." - Jonathan Wyatt, Psychodynamic Practice, November 2007

"David Black, the editor, has provided an excellent introduction, which also gives a brief history of the relationship between psychoanalysis and religion (…) This book should, I believe, be required reading for anyone interested in the ever-changing relationship between psychoanalysis and religion." – Mary Neave, Therapy Today, April 2008

Table of Contents

Black, Introduction. Part I: The Possibility of Religious Truth. Blass, Beyond Illusion: Psychoanalysis and the Question of Religious Truth. Davids, “Render Unto Caesar What is Caesar’s”: Speculations on the Interface Between Psychoanalysis and Religion. Black , “Positions” as Grades of Consciousness: The Case for a Contemplative Position. Part II: Religious Stories that Tell Psychological Truth. Britton, Emancipation from the Superego: A Clinical Study of the Book of Job. Millar, The Christmas Story: A Psychoanalytic Enquiry. Part III: The Nature and Functioning of Religious Experiences. Parsons, Ways of Transformation. Rubin, Psychoanalysis and Spirituality. Grier, Reflections on the Phenomenon of Adoration in Relationships, Both Human and Divine. Wright, Preverbal Experience and the Intuition of the Sacred. Symington, Religion: The Guarantor of Civilization. Part IV: Echoes Between Psychoanalysis and Specific Religious Traditions. Frosh, Psychoanalysis and Judaism. Epstein, The Structure of No-structure: Winnicott’s Concept of Unintegration and the Buddhist Notion of No-self. Cunningham, Vedanta and Psychoanalysis. Bomford, A Simple Question?

About the Editor

David M. Black is a Fellow of the Institute of Psychoanalysis, London, and works as a psychoanalyst in private practice and teaches on a number of professional trainings. He has published widely on psychoanalysis in relation to religion, consciousness and values.

About the Series

The New Library of Psychoanalysis

The New Library of Psychoanalysis is published by Routledge Mental Health in association with the Institute of Psychoanalysis, London.

Its purpose is to facilitate a greater and more widespread appreciation of psychoanalysis and to provide a forum for increasing mutual understanding between psychoanalysts and those in other disciplines. The series also aims to make some of the work of continental and other non-English speaking analysts more readily available to English-speaking readers, and to increase the interchange of ideas between British and American analysts.

The New Library of Psychoanalysis published its first book in 1987 under the editorship of David Tuckett, later followed by Elizabeth Bott Spillius, Susan Budd and Dana Birksted-Breen. A considerable number of Associate Editors and readers have assisted the editors.

Under the guidance of Foreign Rights Editors, a considerable number of the New Library books have been published abroad, particularly in Brazil, Germany, France, Italy, Peru, Spain and Japan.

The aim of the New Library of Psychoanalysis is to maintain the high level of scholarship of the previous series, to provide a forum for increasing understanding between psychoanalysis and other disciplines and to increase the interest of the general book-reading public in psychoanalysis.

The New Library of Psychoanalysis also aims to help the various schools of psychoanalysis to better understand each other. It has published books representing all three schools of thought in British psychoanalysis, including a particularly important work edited by Pearl King and Riccardo Steiner, expounding the intellectual and organisational controversies that developed in the British psychoanalytical Society between Kleinian, Viennese and 'middle group' analysts during the Second World War.

The New Library of Psychoanalysis has also translated and published several books by Continental psychoanalysts, and it plans in the future to continue the policy of publishing books that express as clearly as possible a variety of psychoanalytic points of view.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Clinical Psychology
PSYCHOLOGY / Movements / Psychoanalysis
PSYCHOLOGY / Mental Health
RELIGION / Psychology of Religion