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A Study of Freud and Jung on the Values of Religious Belief.

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A Study of Freud and Jung on the Values of Religious Belief. INTRODUCTION In this essay I will look into the studies and the theories of Sigmund Freud and Carl Gustav Jung and their insight into religion. Sigmund Freud was born on May 6 1856 in Freiberg, Moravia, now in the Czech Republic. Freud developed the techniques of ''Psycho-Analysis'' for the treatment of psychological and emotional disorders. Which brings me to Carl Gustav Jung, whom Freud met in 1907 and the pair became close friends. Jung was a Swiss psychologist, who had different views on religion than Freud. Freud?s View THE DEVELOPMENT OF RELIGION In relation to the value of religious belief, you have to look at the origins of humanity. The primitive world in which the early hominids lived in was a harsh one, uncivilised in the sense that they lived for all the basic things in life, primarily to reproduce. Primitive humans lived mainly in tribes and were much like animals, a pride of lions or a herd of buffalo for example. There was no real sense of individuality, they lived for the tribe. If a member were to die or be killed, they left to rot or be eaten by other animals. This was due to the limited consciousness of the primitive humans, they could not comprehend that the world did not revolve around themselves, in other words they were not really aware of other tribe member's consciousness. The constant struggle of food and male dominance along with all the threats of nature, the life of a primitive human was extremely stressful. So, the primitive tribes concluded that the forces of nature and the unexpected could be appeased with rituals and ceremonies. Organised religion indicated that human thought had taken a large step toward consciousness, humans began to bury their dead and acknowledge the individual. PSYCHOANALYTIC THEORY OF RELIGION So, with mankind's inability to cope with the external world and the instinctive forces within, religion was born out of helplessness. ...read more.


Freud felt that this will benefit humanity far more than religion. However, the removal of religion from society would be painful, but Freud argued that the end result would justify the means (Freud 1927) Critique of Freud Firstly Freud drew his conclusions based heavily on anthropological theories, this is easily discredited and has been one of the most attacked points of Freud?s work. Freud?s whole theory of the primal horde was based entirely on Darwin?s speculations. Now, it?s not accepted that people were grouped entirely in hordes, it is more likely that there was a greater variety of groups and individuals. Freud?s concept of the totem objects and object relations is also attacked. Not all societies had totem object that they worshipped and there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that the attitude toward the totem was one of love and ambivalence. The idea of the totem meal is heavily criticized by E.E. Evans-Pritchard, who doubts that this even happened and that the idea that guilt is handed down from generation to generation is equally discredited. Secondly, the Oedipus complex also comes under criticism. Freud needed the Oedipus complex to be universal in order for it to be the cause of all religion and needed it to be caused by human nature for it lead into religion. Bronislaw Malinowski attacked both of these points in his book, Sex and Repression. First, the role of the father varies all other the world, his example being the Trobiand race where the role of the father is a weak nurse. In this race there is no evidence of the Oedipus complex, therefore the religion of this people must have originated elsewhere. Secondly, Malinowski looked at the animal world. He saw nothing in the of the animals nature that could cause the Oedipus complex. Malinowski concluded that the strict rules of religion are the cause of the complex. ...read more.


Because Jung only looked to the psychic world and not beyond it, the question is unanswerable. Jung?s theory of archetypes of archetypes is criticized, the fact that Jung uses the theory is simply not required to explain the evidence that he puts forth. The main point put forward here is the uniform images of God and religious images. For example Geza Roheim, says that seeing as most of humanity share broadly the same experiences, it isn?t surprising that all myths and legends share a lot of similarities. Carrying on with the concept of archetypes and what further damages their credibility, is the fact that many people do not believe in god. Jung answered this criticism saying that atheism is itself is a religion. This answer led a lot of people to yet again question Jung?s methodology. Jung?s theory of religious experience is criticized, Jung?s idea of religious experience stemmed from the idea that it occurs within the mind. However many disagree, it has been said that a religious experience is external. If the experience is internal, i.e. psychically, then it cannot be termed religious. For the same reason individuation can?t be seen as a religious experience (Anne Jordan 1999 ). Conclusion What have we learned from Freud and Jung on the value of religious belief? Firstly, we look to there conclusions. Freud said that religion has done a great ?service? to mankind by helping us evolve and create a civilised society. However, Freud said that religion was a ?dangerous entity? and that it must be overthrown as it is the cause of neuroses and the like So, in general, the only value that Freud saw in religion was a tool to protect the human psyche from helplessness and for progression. Ultimately Freud said that society should be based on science and rational understanding, so therefore religion is essentially useless. Jung had a different view on religion altogether. To Jung, religion is a device to harmonise the mind and prevent neuroses. So, from Jung?s perspective religion is a invaluable and therefore indispensable to the human psyche. ...read more.

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