Essay Title: 

Psychology and Religion

April 3, 2016 | Author: | Posted in biology, life sciences

Freud ‘s View of Religion as an Illusion

The religions of mankind must be classed among the mass-delusions of this kind . No one , needless to say , who shares a delusion ever recognizes it as such (Freud , 1927

In his books The Future of an Illusion and Civlization and Its Discontents , Freud equates religion to delusion and illusion . In the former book , an illusion ‘ is merely seen as a false belief or hope that fulfills some wishful thinking . In the latter book , Freud expands the scope of the word illusion ‘ to encompass all [banner_entry_middle]

kinds of inner experiences , and not just beliefs , that could be in sharp contrast with external reality , of which religious experience is one

In The Future of an Illusion , Freud claims that all religious ideas are rooted in deep-seated wishes and are therefore illusions – false beliefs . According to Freud , belief in God is merely a projection of powerful wishes and inner needs

We shall tell ourselves that it would be very nice if there were a God who created the world and was a benevolent Providence , and if there were a moral in the universe and an after-life but it is a very striking fact that all this is exactly as we are bound to wish it to be (Freud , 1927 , 33

An illusion is a conceptual error , of course , but it is more than an error . An illusion , according to Freud , is an error of thinking which is a result of our wish projection . Freud differentiates between an error from an illusion by giving many examples . For instance , Aristotle believed that vermin spontaneously generated from dung – this is simply a blatant error but not a result of any wish fulfillment on his part . However , when Columbus thought he had discovered a new sea route to India , it was more than an error of thinking . It was an illusion The part played by his wish in this error is very clear ‘ says Freud (30 . In Freud ‘s definition of the word illusion ‘ an element of wishing is necessarily involved . Stated succinctly , What is characteristic of illusions is that they are derived from human wishes (31

Freud ‘s definition of illusions is very close to the psychiatric concept of delusions . The term illusion and delusion are almost interchangeable but there is a crucial and interesting difference . Delusions are necessarily divorced from reality ( In the case of delusions , we emphasize as essential their being in contradiction with reality But illusions , Freud observes , need not necessarily be false – that is to say , unrealizable or in contradiction to reality (31 . As a small example , a teenage girl may believe that in the future she would marry her favorite celebrity movie star . This is purely an illusion , but need not forever be a many instances when ordinary persons or once ordinary persons have married their dream celebrity stars . While a typical fantasy of a teenager may normally seem very unlikely to ever become reality , it is nevertheless not impossible . This is an… [banner_entry_footer]


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