Who Is Sigmund Freud His Thoughts on Religion

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Sigmund Freud was born in Moravia in 1856. His early childhood was, to say the least, somewhat unorthodox. His mother was his father’s third wife and was younger than the elder son from the first marriage. His stepbrother Philip was apparently attracted to Freud’s mother. Freud was also later to recall a famous event when he felt disgust towards his father and he was also to admit to feelings of guilt after wishing that a younger brother would die- an event which actually occurred. So, his bizarre notions of childhood sexuality may be related to his own childhood experiences. Ernest Jones, his biographer and friend, maintained that these odd family circumstances together with Freud’s misconstruing of them facilitated Freud’s greatest discovery, the Oedipus complex. There are even suggestions that Freud himself had been sexually abused. There is little doubt that Freud was an exceptional student. However, there was no place for religion. His early interest in philosophy culminated in a study of Darwin’s theory of Evolution which led him, in turn, to study medicine. He continued with his philosophical studies, taking a particular interest in the works of Ludwig Feurbach who in his Essence of Christianity wrote that men have created God and heaven as a means of fulfilling their own wishes. God is merely a projection of all that is excellent in human nature. Freud is now best known for his psychoanalytical method. It has been recognized that there are similarities between psychoanalysis and the occult doctrines of the Kabbala. They both share an emphasis on male and female elements, in a fixation with numbers and in the exploration of a variety of symbols. Some fundamental themes can be found in the Zohar or Book of splendour such as bisexuality, malevolent childhood impulses and dream interpretation. Freud was also deeply interested in witchcraft and other occult phenomena. On Saturday evenings, he would frequently play tarock - a card game associated with the Kabbala. However, he appeared to have a conscious hatred of religion - both Orthodox Judaism and Christianity. In 1937, when he was urged to flee Nazism, he responded that his real enemy was the Roman Catholic Church. Interesting enough, his childhood hero was Hanibal, the Carthaginian besieger of Rome. Freud was also to make sure that his wife rejected Jewish Orthodoxy soon after they were married. Religion was for him nothing but psychology projected into the external world. Biologically speaking, religion is to be traced back to the small child’s helplessness. The question asked is: can we one day do without the consoling illusions of religious beliefs? Religious beliefs are based on desires that cannot be challenged and they lie in the infantile past of the individual when he sought protection from the mother and the father. Later on, our fear of death will bring back the old anxieties and the longing to be protected by the father. This irrational origin of religion gives it the odour of sanctity but it has proved unhelpful to most people: “The question cannot but arise whether we are not overrating its necessity for mankind.” Freud thought that if you introduce religion to children before the age of reason, it would lead to a prohibition of thought and neurotic control of impulses through repression: “Religion is patently infantile, so foreign to reality. It is painful to think that the great majority of men will never be able to rise above this view of life.” Religion needs to be replaced by science. Some years ago, Paul Vitz wrote a fascinating book entitled Sigmund Freud’s Christian unconscious in which he argued that Freud had a largely unconscious attraction towards Catholicism. His mother related how as a child, after he was taken by his nanny to church, “you came home and you used to preach to us about God.” Freud described himself later like a monk in his cell offering secular pastoral counselling,...
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