Concluding Thoughts on the Psychoanalytic Psychology of Religion

Legacies of the Occult - Psychoanalysis, Religion, and Unconscious Communication - Marsha Aileen Hewitt

Marsha Aileen Hewitt [+-]
University of Toronto
Marsha Aileen Hewitt is Professor of Social Ethics and Religion in the Faculty of Divinity at Trinity College, and teaches in the Department of Theology in the Toronto School of Theology. She also teaches in the Trinity College Arts programme, Ethics, Society and the Law. Professor Hewitt’s books include From Theology to Social Theory: Juan Luis Segundo and the Theology of Liberation (1990), Critical Theory of Religion: A Feminist Analysis (1995) and Freud on Religion (2014).


Freud was adamant that psychoanalysis and religion are irreconcilable opponents because science and religion are irreconcilable. Like science, psychoanalysis must proceed along the lines of painstaking research and the development of theory in the light of clinical observation. The unconscious may be mysterious, but it is not mystical. A discussion of the case of Herr P. shows that Freud’s acceptance of telepathy was the result of clinical observation. He insisted that telepathy would eventually be explained by science. Freud was well aware that his inclusion of telepathy as a legitimate domain of psychoanalytic inquiry risked opening the door to the outcome he objected to most strenuously: the spiritualization of psychoanalysis. As a scientist committed to standing up for the truth no matter how uncomfortable or inconvenient, even for himself, he stood by his acknowledgement of telepathy in spite of considerable pressure not to publicly do so. For Freud, the strange, irrational world of psychic reality and the unconscious were as worthy objects of scientific investigation as any other.

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Hewitt, Marsha Aileen. Concluding Thoughts on the Psychoanalytic Psychology of Religion. Legacies of the Occult - Psychoanalysis, Religion, and Unconscious Communication. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. Jul 2020. ISBN 9781781792797. Date accessed: 15 Nov 2019 doi: 10.1558/equinox.27420. Jul 2020

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