Seeing God in Our Birth Experiences: A Psychoanalytic Inquiry into Pre and Perinatal Religious Development., 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Seeing God in Our Birth Experiences

A Psychoanalytic Inquiry into Pre and Perinatal Religious Development., 1st Edition

By Helen Holmes


256 pages

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Hardback: 9780367221447
pub: 2020-06-20
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There has been a recent surge in the examination of the evolutionary roots of religious belief, all trying to identify where the human desire to seek the supernatural and the divine comes from. This book adds a new and innovative perspective to this line of thought by being the first to link prenatal and perinatal experiences to the origins of these unconscious underpinnings of our shared images of God.

The book poses a ground-breaking paradigm by thinking about our earliest images of God, whether theist or atheist, within a psychoanalytic framework, comparing and contrasting the thought of Freud and Rizzuto. It looks at the issue of images of God from a diversity of psychological perspectives including, attachment theory, developmental theory and bio-psychosocial perspectives. This analysis leads to the conclusion that in parallel to postnatal findings, uterine and birth experiences can predispose individuals to form God representations later in life, through underpinning affective and environmental factors. 

This is a bold study of the development of one of humanity’s most fundamental aspects. As such, it will be of great interest to scholars of the psychology of religion, psychology, psychoanalysis, religious studies and early infant development.

Table of Contents




1 Rizzuto and Freud: Parental origins of images of God

2 Klein and Bion: The intrauterine in relation to images of God

3 The not knowing position in relation to pre and perinatal life

4 Perinatal origins of images of God

5 Epigenesis, attachment and images of God

6 The question of pre- and perinatal underpinnings of God images

7 Prenatal religious affect

8 Conclusions


About the Author

Helen Holmes is a lecturer and clinical supervisor at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, Kings College London. A group and accredited individual therapist on a psychosis unit at Maudsley Hospital, alongside working in private practice in North London.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Religion

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Developmental / Child
RELIGION / General
RELIGION / Spirituality
RELIGION / Psychology of Religion
RELIGION / Religion & Science
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology of Religion