Psychodynamic Psychology and Religion

Psychodynamic Psychology
 Definition
 Based on unconscious cognitive, emotional and relational
dynamics that influence behavior
 Drives – instincts that motivate behavior
 Structures – patterns that organize aspects of personality
 Objects – internalized representations of relationships
 Psychotherapy focused on uncovering these unconscious
 Bring them to conscious awareness
 Modifying the patterns of relational dynamics
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)
 Death of God
 Modern Science
 Secularization of Society
 God is no longer basis for meaning and
 Academic context open to competing
claims about source of religion
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)
 Subversion of Religion
 Theology based on the assumption that
Christian beliefs produce moral goodness
 Nietzsche reverses this thesis
 Religion serves the needs of those in power
 Used as a means of control and manipulation
 Christian morality used to control the poor
and less fortunate
 Undermines traditional view of religion
 Opens the door for subversive
interpretations of religion
Ludwig Feuerbach (18041872)
 Anthropological essence of religion
 God is the projection of the internal nature
of humanity
 Needs
 Desires
 God is not divine, but humanity projects
itself as a divine supernatural being
 Exposes religion as an illusion to be
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)
 Raised in a Jewish context in what would
become the Czech Republic, later moved to
 First born of 8 children to his mother
 Parents sacrificed considerably for his
 Father of Psychodynamic theory
 Started as a neurologist
 Atheist; Critical of Judeo-Christian Religion
Freud’s Psychology
Conscious mind
Structure of the
Freud’s Psychology
 Id
 Source of unconscious psychic energy
 Attempts to satisfy sexual and aggressive drives
 Operates by the pleasure principle
 Super Ego
 Internalized moral standards
 Judges behavior according to external moral laws
 Often in conflict with Id
Freud’s Psychology
 Ego
 Manages the conflicting needs of the id and superego within
the constraints of reality
 Aspect of personality that is largely conscious
 Executive aspect of the personality
 Operates according to the reality principle
 Drives
 Libido (Drive to live)
 Survival, reproduction, hunger, thrist
 Death Instinct (Thantos)
 Return to a state of calm
 Lower levels of arousal
Freud’s Psychology
 Satisfying the needs of different aspects of the personality
and drives causes tension
 Id wants to be satisfied, super ego moralizes, ego tries to
deal with reality
 Unconscious processes difficult to deal with
 Tensions create anxiety and other psychological problems
 Persons seeks to decrease the tension
Freud’s Psychology
 Defense Mechanisms
 Ego reduces anxiety by unconsciously distorting reality
 Repression
 Removes negative and anxiety-producing feelings or thoughts
from consciousness
 Projection
 Applying negative aspects of the the self to others
 Displacement
 Taking out aggression or other drives on less threatening
Freud’s Psychology
 Defense Mechanisms
 Rationalization
 Justifying behavior based on acceptable reasons rather than
unconscious ones
 Regression
 Moving to a more immature state to deal with anxiety
 Reaction Formation
 Switching unconscious impulses to their exact opposites
Origins of Religion
 Totem and Taboo (1913)
 Religion came about through an act of patricide
Early human tribe in pre-history
Father of a group of expelled males is the Alpha (Leader)
Males later return and kill the father to achieve power
Guilt and ambivalence over murder leads to the deification
of the father (Totem or religious symbol)
 Sacrificial rituals arise out of this first act of violence (Original
Origins of the Judeo-Christian
 God is a projection of the internal unconscious world
 Subversion of Religion
 Freud reverses the basis of Christian theology
 “God created humanity in his image” Gen 1:27
 Humanity created God in their image
 Religion is a source of consolation to deal with anxiety and
God as Projection
 The Future of an Illusion (1927)
 Built a case for the elimination of religion
 Civilization should help us tame nature and its resultant
 Longing for God is the search for a protective father
 Helps us deal with anxiety and helplessness
 Childhood idealizations
 Religion contains too many contradicts to be true
 Should instead turn to reason and science to deal with social
 God as projection through which unconscious processes
 Can be positive or negative
 Aspects of internal world projected onto to God in order to
deal with tension and anxiety
 God as critical parent; loving parent
 Reaction formation – God is all good because I see myself as
all bad
 Displacement – negative aspects of the person attributed to
 Anthropological and evolutionary evidence disproves his
origins theory
 Freud’s definition of God is a projection of his internal
world, but only his
 Adolescent rejection of the father
 Reductionistic and inflexible views of religion
 Associating religion with pathology ignores the positive
aspects of religious belief
 Freud’s psychodynamic case studies do not directly
support his theories about religion

similar documents