God, Freud and Religion : The Origins of Faith, Fear and Fundamentalism
The Bible tells us that God created man in his own image. Freud argued the reverse – that Man created God in his image. This book interrogates these two propositions to provide a coherent account of why people might believe in God. In God, Freud and Religion, a psychoanalytic perspective and Freud’s works on religion offer a framework for examining the genesis of religious belief and its use in manipulating human behaviour for secular or political purposes.
Drawing on theories from psychoanalysis, developmental, cognitive, social psychology, and neuroscience, Dianna Kenny examines arguments for and against belief and explores the relationship between science and religion, and between religion and cognition and emotion. All of Freud’s major works on religion are analysed with a view to assessing his theoretical formulations about the origins of religion. This includes a discussion of religious delusions that occur in psychotic states and the psychodynamics of religion’s close cousins and allies - myths, legends and fairy tales – that arose in the course of human evolution and took their place alongside religion in the human psyche.
Also examined are the personal psychologies of philosophers, believers and non-believers and how their individual life experiences impact on their belief systems. Using the frameworks of social psychology and psychoanalytic theory, the book concludes with an examination of group processes, including cult membership, the origins of interpersonal violence, terror theology, Christian and Islamic fundamentalism and the meaning of suicide bombing.
A unique approach to understanding religious belief, God, Freud and Religion will be of interest to psychoanalysts, psychologists and psychotherapists, students of psychology, psychoanalysis, philosophy and theology and all those with an interest in religion and human behaviour.
Dianna Kenny is Professor of Psychology at the University of Sydney, Australia. She is the author of over 200 publications, including six books.