Psychoanalysis and Religious Experience

View Inside Price: $20.00


September 10, 1986
254 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
ISBN: 9780300037517
Paper

There has been for a long time a powerful opposition between psychoanalysis and religious thinking, both because of the anti-religious attitudes and writings of Sigmund Freud and because of the hostility of theologians to Freud.  In this provocative book, W.W. Meissner attempts to bring about a rapprochement between the two fields, by examining Freud’s views on religion in close detail, exploring the dialectical relationship between psychoanalysis and religion, and applying more contemporary concepts in psychoanalysis to the understanding of religious experience. 

 

Meissner, a Jesuit and a psychoanalyst, contends that Freud’s views on religion reflect important psychodynamic influences and unresolved conflicts in his own life, and he analyzes Freud’s religious arguments with an eye not only to their inherent limitations and erroneous assumptions but also to their latent potentialities for deeper and broader-ranging understanding.  Meissner discusses Freud’s The Future of an Illusion as well as the progression of Freud’s debate with Oskar Pfister, a pastor whose response to Freud’s argument was published as The Illusion of the Future.

 

After clarifying the areas where psychoanalysis and religion must remain independent of one another and where they can converge, Meissner demonstrates how the reconciliation of the two fields can be mutually beneficial.  He utilizes the resources of a broader developmental perspective and the modern psychoanalytic understanding of transitional phenomena in order to achieve a more insightful and productive view of religious experience.   

 

“Dr. Meissner has written a book which is consistently interesting, often challenging, and impressive for its wide range of scholarship in two fields not often combined in the same work…. Dr. Meissner has done us a service in this scholarly work by demonstrating how two perspectives of the human condition have over the course of the last several decades come to similar conclusions.” –Otto F. Thaler, M.D., Journal of the American Academy of Religion

 

“A rich and stimulating book addressing important issues that lie at the intersection of psychoanalysis and religion.” –Paul C. Vitz, Contemporary Psychology

 

“Meissner has made a challenging, useful contribution that will be pondered, applied, and debated.  It will undoubtedly also achieve the goal of bringing about more understanding between analysts and theologians.” –Lowell Rubin, M.D., Newsletter, Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute

"A masterful piece of Freudian scholarship."—Ethics
 

"A thought provoking analysis of psychoanalytic theory as it intersects with theology in its assumptions. . . . Meissner has performed a major task in identifying issues and processes in a way which both clarifies the old issues and raises up new ones."—Francis H. Touchet, Journal of Psychology and Theology
 

"The book is worth reading. It contains some bold and original thinking, and it is the product of a gifted and seasoned practitioner who is attempting to extend an honest and sophisticated dialogue between two disciplines which have historically been antagonists."—Stephen E. Ott, M.S., M. Div., Pastoral Psychology 

 

"Consistently interesting, often challenging and impressive for its wide range of scholarship in two fields not often combined in the same work."—Otto F. Thaler, M.D., Journal of the American Academy of Religion
 

"The single best introduction to the topic I've seen. A distinguished psychoanalyst, Meissner summarizes cogently Feud's feelings as well as his arguments about religion in three major sections."—Volney P. Gay, Religious Studies Review

"Meissner has made a challenging, usefully contribution that will be pondered, applied, and debated. It will undoubtedly also achieve the goal of bringing about more understanding between analysts and theologians."—Lowell Rubin, M.D., Newsletter, Boston Psychoanalytic Society & Institute

"An admirable enterprise—and there is much to admire in the execution of it. The author is widely read, summarizes well and makes available the abundant fruit of his labors. Moreover, he writes clearly about difficult maters in an expository style that is relatively sparing of jargon. The result is a kind of compendium of the state-of-the-question as he sees the question."—William J. Richardson, America

"[Meissner's] goals are exemplary and his method is that of circumspect and impeccable scholarship. . . . This is a successful book in that Meissner demonstrates how mainstream psychoanalysis can and does address fundamental issues in the religious domain."—E. Mansell Pattison, M.D., American Journal of Psychiatry

"This is an interdisciplinary work which attempts to bring a rapprochement between psychoanalysis and religion."—Theology Digest

"Meissner's virtually unparalleled mastery of the Freudian corpus combines with his knowledge of theology to give us that is, quite simply, the most accurate, nuanced, and balanced coverage of the subject in print. . . . The book is a magisterial working through of important territory and a landmark for future efforts."—Theological Studies

"Meissner presents a thought-provoking analysis of psychoanalytic theory as it intersects with theology in its assumptions but he proceeds beyond this to espouse the necessity for a reclamation of the human soul in the presence of free-will and what must ultimately be seen as Grace. . . . Meissner has performed a major task in identifying issues and processes in a way which both clarifies the old issues and raises up new ones."—Francis H. Touchet, Journal of Psychology & Theology