Sigmund Freud, born in 1856, was originally an Austrian medical doctor who would eventually continue on to become the Father of Psychoanalysis. Freud remains an analogous symbol with psychology, not only because of his psychological school, but also because of the controversy surrounding many of his theories. While Freud’s proposed stages of psychosexual development are some of his most criticized concepts, his view of religion also proved to be controversial. Freud was raised Jewish, but his ideals changed by psychoanalyzing himself. Although he had a large exposure to both Christianity and Judaism during maturation, the combination of Positivism and individual work in psychoanalysis played the dominant role in shaping Sigmund Freud’s
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Freud eventually approached religion scientifically, just as he did with the psyche, and found it to be nothing more than an illusion he could discredit with psychoanalysis. The Freud’s first opinion on religion was its resemblance to an obsessive neurosis. In comparing neurosis and religion, Freud notes “the formation of a religion, too seems to be based on the suppression, the renunciation, of certain instinctual impulses” (qtd. in “Religion as an Obsessional Neurosis”). Suppression of instinctual impulses only created further conflict within the psyche, and as a result civilization experienced continuous anxiety and found an even greater need for the guiding force of religion. Religion became a substantial part of human culture because the collective rejection of unacceptable urges was crucial in forming a society. While religion was different from a neurosis because an individual’s submission had meaning, Freud found that
In view of these similarities and analogies one might venture to regard obsessional neurosis as the pathological counterpart of a religion, and to describe…religion as a universal obsessional neurosis.
By communally sharing their neuroses, humans were able to form religions that were based on emotional conflict rather than fact (qtd. in“Religion as an Obsessional Neurosis”). Religion is not just a neurosis according to Freud, but it also provides humans answers to and protection from an uncertain world. Throughout life, individuals come