Freud's View of Religion

Topics: Religion, Sigmund Freud, God Pages: 3 (933 words) Published: August 20, 2013
Explain Freud’s view of religion

Sigmund Freud grew up in a Catholic town in Moravia, where he was one of a very small number of Jew’s. He claimed to have grown up without any belief in God, and never to have felt the need for it. Freud worked from the presupposition that the origin of religion is psychological, he assumed from the start that religious belief; religious experience and religious impulses come from within the mind and not from any external supernatural being.

In Freud’s view, people look for meaning in life, and want there to be an after-life, because they find it comforting. This is the idea of wish fulfillment, the secret hope of our greatest longings satisfied, such as; safety, unconditional love, lack of responsibility, physiological needs, reassurance… They have difficulty accepting that one day they will die, so they imagine themselves a place where they can carry on living after death, and where everything will be happy and comfortable. God is an illusion, derived from human’s wish. We project on to a blank and empty world a God who will look after us, enabling us to feel hopeful. Freud believed that when we look at religious belief, we could see close connections between it and the parent-child relationship. This idea that belief in God is infantile derives from our want to retain our childhood, this may be a subconscious desire to stay like a child, but inevitably it is present.

Moreover, Freud made the link between religion and neurosis when he noticed close similarities between the behavior of his patients in relation to the source of their obsession and religious people in relation to the object of their worship. He noticed, for example, that both involve highly specific ritual behavior. In both cases, this behavior is filled with symbolic meaning for its followers, while appearing completely meaningless to the uninitiated. In both cases, failure to perform a particular act results in severe guilt, which is inexplicable to...
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