Sigmund Freud's Views On Religion

Sigmund Freud is famous for his psychoanalytic school of thoughts but he had a keen interest in religion also. As an adult he considered himself as an atheist but he had a Jewish background. His upbringing and his background played an important role in his upbringing. He also wrote several books on topics that focused on religion. 

Freud was born to Jewish parents in the heavily Roman Catholic town of Freiburg. Throughout his life he was interested in knowing about religion and spirituality and wrote some famous books devoted to the topic. Some of his writings included “Totem and Taboo”, “The Future Of An Illusion”. Religion according to Freud was an expression of underlying psychological neurosis and distress. In many of his writings he also suggested that religion was an attempt to control the oedipal complex, a path to give structure to social groups, wish fulfillment, and an attempt to control the outside world. 

As he was very upfront with his atheism he believed that religion was something to overcome as he knew the power of religion on identity. According to him his jewish culture as well as his atheism both had influenced his identity and personality. 

Religion was like an illusion to Freud, a form of neurosis and even an attempt to gain over the world. From his one of the books in religion "New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis" (1933), Freud wanted to explain that "religion is an illusion and it derives its strength from its readiness to fit in with our instinctual wishful impulses." He also believed that religion is an attempt to master the sensory world in which we are situated by the means of wishful words that has been developed as a part of biological and psychological necessities. 

Although Freud was interested in religion and spirituality he was sometimes criticized also. He thought that religion was unwelcoming, harsh, and unloving towards those who are not part of any religion. He stated that our knowledge about the historical worth of some religion increases respect for them but it is not necessary that we put it forward at any cost for civilization. He also suggested that the whole thing of religion is so infantile and so foreign to reality that anyone with a friendly attitude towards humanity it is painful to know that they will not be able to rise above the majority of morals about the views in life. 


The psychoanalytic views of Freud viewed religion as the unconscious mind’s need for fulfillment because people need to feel secure and absolve themselves from their own guilt. Freud believed that people choose to believe in God because it represents a powerful father figure.  


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