ch.5 - Chapter 5 Psychodynamic and Relational Approaches...

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J.M. Nelson, Psychology, Religion, and Spirituality, DOI 10.1007/978-0-387-87573-6_0, @ Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009 143 Chapter 5 Psychodynamic and Relational Approaches Two years before William James published his classic Varieties of Religious Expe- rience , a relatively unknown doctor named Sigmund Freud authored his first great work, The Interpretation of Dreams , ushering in the new field of psychodynamic psychology. Ten years later, Freud published Totem and Taboo , his first major work that attempted an analysis of religion. In the following years, the work of Freud and other psychodynamic theorists would provide a rich—and sometime contentious— platform for a religion-psychology dialogue. Psychodynamic theories focus on cognitive, emotional, and relational dynamics within the individual, especially mental processes that are unconscious and outside of awareness. In particular, psychodynamic approaches focus on one or more of three different types of processes: (1) drives or instinctual processes that motivate behavior, (2) structures or internal patterns that provide organization for the per- sonality, and (3) relations between the self and external or internal objects. Each of these types of processes has provided a basis for a psychological perspective on reli- gion. In this chapter, we will consider Freud’s drive-oriented approach to religion, the theory of Erik Erikson that has important structural features, and the object- relational theories of Harry Guntrip and David Winnicott. We will also consider the unique contributions of the psychodynamic theorist Carl Jung. 5.1 Sigmund Freud: Master of Suspicion Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) was no friend to religion from the beginning of his career. Along with personal experiences that alienated him from Christianity, he was an admirer of some of the most important opponents to traditional religion such as Ludwig Feuerbach and Friedrich Nietzsche. His mentor Ernst Brücke was Vienna’s most ardent positivist and a reductive materialist (Gay, 1998, pp. 12–34; Ramzy, 1977). Freud was thus influenced by Comtean positivism, which acted to constrain his choices in the development of psychoanalysis so that spiritual issues were neglected or reduced to material processes (Domenjo, 2000; Grotstein, 1992). Positivism carried with it a view of history that placed religion as a primitive phenomenon destined to be replaced by science, an idea that Freud elaborated in his work (see Section 2.3) (Fig. 5.1).
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144 5 Psychodynamic and Relational Approaches Freud’s initial outline for his vision is contained in the manuscript Project for a Scientific Psychology (1953). In this work, Freud developed the idea that the psyche could be entirely described using material processes that operated in the mechanis- tic fashion of 19th-century physics. The activity of the human psyche was simply “neuronal motion” (1953, p. 310). This material basis of his theory continued to be a principle in his later work, even if it was not explicitly articulated (Mackay,
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This note was uploaded on 12/07/2011 for the course PSYCHOLOGY 321 taught by Professor Reber during the Fall '10 term at BYU.

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ch.5 - Chapter 5 Psychodynamic and Relational Approaches...

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