1st Edition

Psychoanalysis and Religion in the 21st Century
Competitors or Collaborators?

Edited By

David M. Black

ISBN 9780415379441
Published May 11, 2006 by Routledge
296 Pages

USD $52.95

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Book Description

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.

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?

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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.


"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