Cookies Policy

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

I accept this policy

Find out more here

Psychoanalytic methods in the history of religion: A personal statement1

No metrics data to plot.
The attempt to load metrics for this article has failed.
The attempt to plot a graph for these metrics has failed.
MyBook is a cheap paperback edition of the original book and will be sold at uniform, low price.

Buy this article

$30.00+ Tax (if applicable)
Add to Favorites

image of Method & Theory in the Study of Religion

For the Scandinavian tradition of the history of religions, in which I was trained, not the numinous, but the experience of the numinous is the sui generis subject matter of the discipline; and historians routinely emphasize the experiential aspects of religions. The better to understand religious experience, I work interdisciplinarily with psychoanalysis. Freud's treatment of group processes as though they were individual psyches and his pathologizing of religious symbolism are badly dated. Current work in both clinical psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic anthropology is more sophisticated. My major innovations are two. (1) Where historians of religions aspire for religious devotees to recognize themselves in their portraits of the religions, I seek for devotees additionally to gain insight into the unconscious dimensions of their religions. Religions are not reducible to their symbolism, but unconscious motives influence the imagery that religions use to symbolize their metaphysical concerns. (2) I also use psychoanalytic findings and methods to contribute to historiography, in some cases as aids to textual exegesis, but more extensively in studies of shamans, prophets, apocalyptists, and mystics, where psychoanalytic observations on the techniques for inducing and controlling alternate states furnishes historical information that enriches the research findings.


Article metrics loading...


Affiliations: 1: Department for the Study of Religion, University of Toronto


Can't access your account?
  • Tools

  • Add to Favorites
  • Printable version
  • Email this page
  • Subscribe to email alerts
  • Get permissions
  • Recommend to your library

    You must fill out fields marked with: *

    Librarian details
    Your details
    Why are you recommending this title?
    Select reason:
    Method & Theory in the Study of Religion — Recommend this title to your library

    Thank you

    Your recommendation has been sent to your librarian.

  • Export citations
  • Key

  • Full access
  • Open Access
  • Partial/No accessInformation