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Ignatius and Screwtape on Discernment: A Psychoanalytic Reading

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image of Archive for the Psychology of Religion

This article brings together the Rules for Discernment of Spirits from the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola and the avuncular, if diabolical, advice given by C. S Lewis' shrewd and experienced devil, Screwtape, to his fledgling nephew, Wormwood, who is still learning his satanic craft. The juxtaposition of Ignatius' cautions regarding the wiles of the evil spirit with the counterpoise of the recommendations of the crafty old Screwtape for the temptation, beguilement and conquest of souls and the triumph of his evil satanic empire, may serve to deepen if not enrich our appreciation of the factors that draw good souls away from the paths of virtue. To mediate the discussion I have chosen to recast some of these reposts in terms of more contemporary psychoanalytic concepts in an effort to extend the borders of reflection between psychoanalysis and religious perspectives.


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