Free Essay

Carl Jung's Interpretation of Religion

In: Religion Topics

Submitted By Connell123
Words 1225
Pages 5
Carl Jung has a very broad interpretation of 'religion' and to understand it, one must first examine the concepts Jung puts forward to explain his theory- the collective unconscious and archetypes, as frameworks within the collective unconscious, and how they relate to the process of individuation, the process by which the conscious individual 'harmonises' their psyche (mind). Jung accounts for religion as an expression of the collective unconscious of the species (though Jung may not have agreed with speciation) - religion helps the individuation process. within Jung's concept of the psyche, a three tier system - the personal conscious, the personal unconscious (repressed memories) and the collective unconscious (the blueprint that 'religious' images emerge from, conditioned by the archetypes). The expression of this psyche is the 'libido' (desire), the 'life-force' or energy that is focused through the archetypes.
The archetypes are 'conceptual' frames that are shared by the entire species, they are 'functional dispositions' that innately generate images; the archetypes date back to pre-man evolutionary stages. Some examples of these archetypes are the persona - which manifests in dreams as images of masked parties, or suits of armour, the persona represents the 'outward facing' part of the psyche, the extrovert, which interacts with people; the shadow - this generates 'wilderness' or 'woodland' type images, and represents the 'dark', withdrawn 'inwards facing' part of the psyche - if the libido is focused through this archetype the individual may be diagnosed as schizophrenic, as the individual loses identity and may become catatonic. The two main archetypes that generate God as the 'complete object' or 'whole' are the God archetype, and the Self archetype. Jung said that the images generated by these archetypes are very similar and are dominant in the process of individuation.
The process of individuation is the process by which the individual's psyche is 'harmonised', the collective and personal unconscious, and the conscious parts are all integrated and happiness is achieved; a balanced psyche is religious according to Jung's interpretation of 'religious', and thus, religion to Jung is very important as it staves off neuroses caused by the blockage of desire (or over-flow of desire through one archetype) by allowing the harmony of the psyche to come to fruition. As mentioned earlier, Jung said that the God and the Self archetypes are near identical, and so an image of 'God' is also an image of 'Self', same for the other way around. This interpretation allows for nearly all experiences to be religious - as long as the conscious mind is affected by the desire (libido) being focused through an archetype, the experience is religious - Jung's conception of 'religious' is similar to that of the German theologian Rudolph Otto's 'numinous' - a divine power in control of the experience and originating outside the individual's conscious mind. It follows that any experience conditioned by an archetype is religious then, as archetypes are only in the collective unconscious of the species.
In his numerous works on religion, written over a span of nearly forty years, Freud produced a number of different but in many ways interconnected theories. Religion is a 'universal obsessional ritual' designed to avert imaginary misfortunes and control the unconscious impulses which lead us to feel we are causing them. The rituals attempt to control the outside world and our egoistic and aggressive wishes as well. Another theory by Freud is that religion is an attempt to master the Oedipus complex. According to this theory, everyone has to deal with the problems caused by the fact that we have complex childhood relationships to a mother and father. Love and hate, rivalry and dependence mark our relationships and can cause intense emotional turmoil. Freud also states that religion is a way of working though these problems in a socially acceptable manner so they become easier for each individual to bear. Religion protects people from individual neurosis by being a kind of social neurosis, and so sharing the problem. For instance, in the unconscious we might want our mothers to be virgins and our fathers to be all-powerful. These ideas might be 'mad' if expressed by an individual, but are allowed expression in religion.
Sigmund Freud believes that religion is the return of the repressed. This is similar to the theory above but in this case religion is repeating or working through traumatic events from the distant evolutionary past. Repressed traumas return like the symptoms or character traits of individuals as described in Moses and Monotheism (1939). The important events for Freud are associated with his theory of the primal horde and that religion is a reaction to infantile helplessness. In this theory we try to recreate in religion a feeling of being protected by unbounded 'love' which we yearned for in our state of infantile helplessness. Religious belief protects us from 'the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune' (ultimately from the acknowledgment of death) and therefore protects our narcissism. Religion keeps us in the illusion of being at the centre of the universe once more.
Freud’s later claims include a claim that says religion echoes infantile states of 'bliss'. This theory is similar to the one above. Instead of a reaction to infantile helplessness, religion tunes into the sense of 'oneness' which the baby is thought to experience with the mother. The early loss of ego boundaries is reproduced in a feeling of the 'transcendent' in adult life. This theory implies a state of blissful fusion with an all-loving and all-forgiving parent. Freud also looked at this 'oceanic' or 'spiritual' feeling in Civilization and its Discontents (1930).
Freud claims religion is a mass delusion or paranoid wish-fulfilment. Freud had already analysed the 'private religions' of Daniel Schreber (Psychoanalytic Notes on an Autobiographical Account of a Case of Paranoia, 1911) and Christopher Haizman ('A Seventeenth Century Demonological Neurosis', 1923) and such delusions are typical of schizophrenia in general. In turning away from reality and putting a wishful reality in its place the person makes use of magical thinking as described in The Psychopathology of Everyday Life (1901). In some ways this brings religion closer to science. Freud had often said that paranoid delusions are like philosophical systems or scientific theories - they are all trying to make sense of the world, and our place in it.
On of Freud’s major theories is that religion is a way to hold groups together. This is implied in the first view above, dealing with egoistic or 'anti-social' impulses. In his Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego (1920) Freud tries to describe the actual structure of groups as he sees it from the point of view of the emotional ties that bind them together. He returns to the theme in Civilization and its Discontents.
Each of these theories has been criticized for being over-simple. The main objection seems to be directed at the implication that religion is a neurosis. I am not sure this criticism carries much weight. Freud says explicitly that religion can save people from neurosis. He also asserts on more than one occassion that science - the highest achievement of human beings in his eyes - can also be described by using terms from psychopathology. That is to say, as a 'neurosis' in a dynamic sense. For Freud 'neurosis' is not necessarily a pejorative term, it is more or less a shorthand description for the human condition!

Similar Documents

Premium Essay

Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud

...Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud Introduction Carl Jung (1875-1961) and Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) were two individuals whose theories on human personality would completely affect the way that people viewed the human mind. Carl Gustav was a practicing psychotherapist while Sigmund Freud created the discipline of psychoanalysis. The two men had seemingly identical beliefs about human behavior, but also had contrasting beliefs about concepts such as the ego, the psyche, and the state of unconsciousness. Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud’s Theories Sigmund Freud’s beliefs about personality were based on past experiences in an individual’s childhood. Freud stated that all human beings had three personality levels. These were the ego, the id, and the superego. The level of the id is the one that houses a person’s primitive drives and supports the enactment of decisions that are purely based on pleasure. The id’s objective is to avoid pain at all costs and only seek pleasurable sensations. The ego, on the other hand, identifies the significance of reality and makes decisions based on concepts such as judgment, perception recognition, and memory. The last level, the superego, is dedicated to seeking perfection (Reber, 2006). This level houses the individual’s accepted social morals and ideals in the conscience. Jung had different views about the different mental levels in the conscious mind. Instead of the ego, id, and superego, Jung perceived the human thought process as constituting......

Words: 1423 - Pages: 6

Premium Essay

Psychoanalytic Personal Assessment

...Schuler Psychoanalytic Personality Assessment Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and Alfred Adler are known as the pioneers of modern theories (Friedman & Schustack 2012). Their theories have changed psychological standpoints on the human mind and have become the greatest influences on modern psychology. (Friedman & Schustack 2012) Although much has changed over the years, Freud, Jung, and Adler came up with the ideas that has led to the theories of modern human behavior, personality, and thought processes. (The Science and Practice of Clinical Psychology, 2007) Nonetheless, their views, interests, and opinions were different in psychology. (The Science and Practice of Clinical Psychology, 2007) All three were psychiatrists. (The Science and Practice of Clinical Psychology, 2007) Sigmund Freud met Carl Jung after a meeting that lasted 13 hours. (The Science and Practice of Clinical Psychology, 2007) They became conspiring friends while circulating information on psychoanalysis. (The Science and Practice of Clinical Psychology, 2007) Sigmund Freud and Alfred Adler encountered one another at a psychology convention in Vienna. (Bridle & Edelstein, 2000, Spring/Summer) Jung and Adler were fascinated by Freud’s interpretation of ego, superego, and id; however, they had antipathy for Freud’s idealization of sexual theories. (Bridle & Edelstein, 2000, Spring/Summer) Even though Freud held failed interest in Jung’s religious theories and was taken aback by it.......

Words: 1422 - Pages: 6

Premium Essay


...Ellyn Joy V. Pasaporte Carl Jung Until the 1910s, Carl Jung was a follower and close friend of Freud’s. Like Freud, Jung believed that unconscious conflicts are important in shaping personality. However, he believed the unconscious has two layers: the personal unconscious, which resembled Freud’s idea, and the collective unconscious, which contains universal memories of the common human past. Jung called these common memories archetypes. Archetypes are images or thoughts that have the same meaning for all human beings. Jung said that archetypes exist in dreams as well as in art, literature, and religion across cultures. According to Jung, the ego represents the conscious mind while the personal unconscious contains memories, including those that have been suppressed. The collective unconscious is a unique component in that Jung believed that this part of the psyche served as a form of psychological inheritance. It contains all of the knowledge and experiences we share as a species. Jung's theory divides the psyche into three parts. The first is the ego,which Jung identifies with the conscious mind. Closely related is the personal unconscious, which includes anything which is not presently conscious, but can be. The personal unconscious is like most people's understanding of the unconscious in that it includes both memories that are easily brought to mind and those that have been suppressed for some reason. But it does not include the instincts that Freud would have it include...

Words: 1079 - Pages: 5

Free Essay

Carl Jung

...Carl Gustav Jung was born on 26 July 1875 and died on 6th June 1961. Carl Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist who founded analytical psychology. Carl Jung was an early supporter of Freud because of their shared interest in the unconscious. He was an active member of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society. Carl agreed with Freud in many areas but not in regards to the Oedipus Complex. Jung proposed and developed the concepts of extraversion and introversion archetypes and the collective unconscious. His work has been influential in psychiatry and in the study of religion, philosophy, archeology, anthropology, literature, and related fields. Much of Carl’s work was not published until after his death. Carl Jung believed that “the central concept of analytical psychology is individuation the psychological process of integrating the opposites, including the conscious with the unconscious, while still maintaining their relative autonomy”. Jung considered individuation to be the central process of any human development. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), a popular psychometric instrument, was developed from Jung's theory of psychological types. Jung saw the human psyche as "by nature religious" and made this religiousness the focus of his explorations.]Jung is one of the best known contemporary contributors to dream analysis and symbolisation. Through research, I have discovered Jung was a practising clinician and considered himself to be a scientist, much of......

Words: 1399 - Pages: 6

Premium Essay

Psychoanalytic Personality Assessment

...forces, biological, conditioning, cognitive, traits, spiritual dimension, and interaction. Although there might be similarities between personalities, it is impossible to have the same eight key aspects on more than one individual. Personality psychology truly is fascinating and is defined as the scientific study of psychological forces that make individuals unique. This paper will compare and contrast the psychoanalytic theories of Freud, Jung, and Adler. These three theorists devoted much of their time and energy developing unique approaches, methods, and techniques of psychoanalytic theory used to treat patients today. Sigmund Freud was the true founder of the psychoanalytic theory. Later, his student’s Alfred Adler and Carl Jung questioned Freud’s interpretation of dreams resulting in the Adler and Jungian theories. The psychoanalytic theory developed by Freud encouraged patients to discuss memories of early childhood, interactions, and fantasies. Freud believed that the use of free association and dream analysis revealed the unconscious forces driving one’s inner conflicts. Freud believed that human behavior is subjective to irrational drives that are not displayed on one’s surface. On the other hand, these irrational drives can be found repressed deep inside the...

Words: 1106 - Pages: 5

Free Essay

Carl Jung

...[pic] CARL JUNG   1875 - 1961   Dr. C. George Boeree   [pic] Anyone who wants to know the human psyche will learn next to nothing from experimental psychology.  He would be better advised to abandon exact science, put away his scholar's gown, bid farewell to his study, and wander with human heart throught the world.  There in the horrors of prisons, lunatic asylums and hospitals, in drab suburban pubs, in brothels and gambling-hells, in the salons of the elegant, the Stock Exchanges, socialist meetings, churches, revivalist gatherings and ecstatic sects, through love and hate, through the experience of passion in every form in his own body, he would reap richer stores of knowledge than text-books a foot thick could give him, and he will know how to doctor the sick with a real knowledge of the human soul. -- Carl Jung Freud said that the goal of therapy was to make the unconscious conscious. He certainly made that the goal of his work as a theorist. And yet he makes the unconscious sound very unpleasant, to say the least: It is a cauldron of seething desires, a bottomless pit of perverse and incestuous cravings, a burial ground for frightening experiences which nevertheless come back to haunt us. Frankly, it doesn't sound like anything I'd like to make conscious! A younger colleague of his, Carl Jung, was to make the exploration of this "inner space" his life's work. He went equipped with a background in Freudian theory, of course, and with an apparently......

Words: 7916 - Pages: 32

Free Essay

Scribe and Evaluate Carl Jung’s Theory

...“Describe and evaluate Carl Jung’s theory concerning personality types and show how they might usefully help a therapist to determine therapeutic goals” Introduction Carl Gustav Jung (1875 – 1961) a Swiss born psychologist and psychiatrist was the founding father of the theory and methodology known as ‘Analytical Psychology’. In his early years Jung studied with and was heavily influenced by Freud. But would later have fundamental concerns with regard to Freud’s theories going on to develop his theories and practice of ‘Analytical Psychology’. Jung’s legacy and its impact on modern day psychology and the ‘psychologisation of religion’ in particular spirituality and the New Age movement are immense. Many of Jung’s original theories and methodology still influences the way psychologists and psychoanalysts practice today. Psychological concepts such as ‘archetype’, ‘collective unconscious’, ‘the complex’ and ‘synchronicity’ are Jungian precepts. The ‘Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) which is used today to measure an individuals perception of their surroundings and how their decisions are formed, is based on Jung’s ‘Typological theory’. Jung’s father being a pastor and his mother an atheist (in modern day terms) from an early age gave Jung the opportunity to consider and reflect on both “sides” of the religious vs non-believer question, along with the subsequent impact and conflicts within his own psyche. Throughout Jung’s life he expressed a keen interest in nature and...

Words: 2628 - Pages: 11

Premium Essay


...Eric Culpepper February 27, 2012 English 20 History of Dream Interpretation The connection between humans and their existence in this universe is the one thing that can not exactly be proven. There are few spiritual, mystical, and unexplained occurrences that are experienced on earth, but a dream is something that throughout time has been seen as more than it appears to be. Dream’s and their interpretations have been documented throughout history. Dream interpretation is said to be documented thousands of years from present day. From ancient times to present day, people have tried to give meaning to this mystical occurrence in the brain. In early civilizations, dreaming was considered a supernatural communication or a way to communicate with god. Nearly every religion contains a story relating to dreams and communication with a higher power. The process of the mind racing without control, creating emotional and physical sensations has even been theorized by neurologists, scientists, and those who have studied the subject, as a direct line between the conscious, and unconscious. Originally, dreams were believed to be a connection with humans and the mystical world. Dream interpretations have been documented for nearly five thousand years. “The Mesopotamian people (from what is now Iraq) included the Sumerians who left some of the earliest pictographic writings dating back to about 3100 B.C. By 2700 B.C. they had developed a cuneiform type of writing, which......

Words: 1727 - Pages: 7

Premium Essay

Case Study

...CHAPTER 6 A CRITIQUE OF THE EIGHT PSYCHOLOGISTS Sigmund Freud While Freudian theory is vulnerable to criticisms of being unscientific and too reductionistic (though behaviorists criticize it for not being reductionistic enough), classic psychoanalysis does offer a comprehensive system of personality, pathology, and therapy that has made a lasting contribution to an understanding of human behavior, especially in such areas as defense mechanisms, the reality of unconscious mental dynamics, and the psychodynamics of dreams. Freud’s work was characterized by originality, boldness, and power of communication. In his theory of neurosis, he captured the tragic dimension of human existence, particularly in the selfdestructive antithesis of instinctual conflict. The locus of these destructive impulses is internalized in the individual and not merely derivative from civilization. In this respect, Freud’s portrayal of the human condition has more depth than romantic humanism and yields significant points of correlation with the Christian understanding of sin, guilt, and the need for redemption. Regarding Freud’s theory of personality, there appears to be no unified structure or functional unity between the id, the ego, and the superego, and these personality components are described in intuitive and literary terms that elude scientific analysis. Instead, they are often personified as homunculi that operate in monochromatic ways, yielding a......

Words: 6820 - Pages: 28

Premium Essay


...Student Learning Guide Counselling Methods 1 © South African College of Applied Psychology (Pty) Ltd Developed and produced by the South African College of Applied Psychology Sunclare building, Claremont, Cape Town, 7708, South Africa. 2012. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by means of electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise without the prior written permission of the publisher. Copyrighted materials reproduced herein are used under the provision of the South African Copyright Act 98 of 1978 section 12 (1) (a)(b) (3), for private study only by students. STUDENT LEARNING GUIDE: COUNSELLING METHODS 1 2 Table of contents How this guide works ........................................................................................................................ 10 Module Readings .............................................................................................................................. 11 Prescribed text book ......................................................................................................................... 11 Prescribed and recommended readings ........................................................................................... 11 Session One: An Overview of Theories of Psychotherapy and Counselling ..................................... 14 Reading for the session .....................................................................

Words: 21776 - Pages: 88

Premium Essay

Personal Growth

...the time his theory had gelled into its most mature form, he called that motivating force the striving for perfection. It is the desire we all have to fulfill our potentials, to come closer and closer to our ideal. It is, as many of you will already see, very similar to the more popular idea of self-actualization. "Perfection" and "ideal" are troublesome words, though. On the one hand, they are very positive goals. Shouldn't we all be striving for the ideal? And yet, in psychology, they are often given a rather negative connotation. Perfection and ideals are, practically by definition, things you can't reach. Many people, in fact, live very sad and painful lives trying to be perfect! As you will see, other theorists, like Karen Horney and Carl Rogers, emphasize this problem. Adler talks about it, too. But he sees this negative kind of idealism as a perversion of the more positive understanding. We will return to this in a little while. Striving for perfection was not the first...

Words: 15787 - Pages: 64

Free Essay


...Dreams are successions of images, ideas, emotions, and sensations that occur involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep.[1] The content and purpose of dreams are not definitively understood, though they have been a topic of scientific speculation, as well as a subject of philosophical and religious interest, throughout recorded history. The scientific study of dreams is called oneirology.[2] Dreams mainly occur in the rapid-eye movement (REM) stage of sleep—when brain activity is high and resembles that of being awake. REM sleep is revealed by continuous movements of the eyes during sleep. At times, dreams may occur during other stages of sleep. However, these dreams tend to be much less vivid or memorable.[3] The length of a dream can vary; they may last for a few seconds, or approximately 20–30 minutes.[3] People are more likely to remember the dream if they are awakened during the REM phase. The average person has three to five dreams per night, but some may have up to seven dreams in one night.[4] The dreams tend to last longer as the night progresses. During a full eight-hour night sleep, most dreams occur in the typical two hours of REM.[5] In modern times, dreams have been seen as a connection to the unconscious mind. They range from normal and ordinary to overly surreal and bizarre. Dreams can have varying natures, such as frightening, exciting, magical, melancholic, adventurous, or sexual. The events in dreams are generally outside the control of the...

Words: 6296 - Pages: 26

Premium Essay

Literary Theory

...Literary Theory and Schools of Criticism Introduction A very basic way of thinking about literary theory is that these ideas act as different lenses critics use to view and talk about art, literature, and even culture. These different lenses allow critics to consider works of art based on certain assumptions within that school of theory. The different lenses also allow critics to focus on particular aspects of a work they consider important. For example, if a critic is working with certain Marxist theories, s/he might focus on how the characters in a story interact based on their economic situation. If a critic is working with post-colonial theories, s/he might consider the same story but look at how characters from colonial powers (Britain, France, and even America) treat characters from, say, Africa or the Caribbean. Hopefully, after reading through and working with the resources in this area of the OWL, literary theory will become a little easier to understand and use. Disclaimer Please note that the schools of literary criticism and their explanations included here are by no means the only ways of distinguishing these separate areas of theory. Indeed, many critics use tools from two or more schools in their work. Some would define differently or greatly expand the (very) general statements given here. Our explanations are meant only as starting places for your own investigation into literary theory. We encourage you to use the list of scholars and works provided for......

Words: 11786 - Pages: 48

Premium Essay

Origin of Baptist

...fficial Wikipedia app for Android: Faster speed, offline reading, and more. Last edited 3 days ago by an anonymous user Personality psychology Personality psychology is a branch of psychology that studies personality and its variation between individuals. Its areas of focus include: Construction of a coherent picture of the individual and his or her major psychological processes Investigation of individual psychological differences Investigation of human nature and psychological similarities between individuals "Personality" is a dynamic and organized set of characteristics possessed by a person that uniquely influences his or her cognitions, emotions, motivations, and behaviors in various situations. The word "personality" originates from the Latin persona, which means mask. In the theatre of the ancient Latin-speaking world, the mask was not used as a plot device to disguise the identity of a character, but instead was a convention employed to represent or typify that character. Personality also refers to the pattern of thoughts, feelings, social adjustments, and behaviors consistently exhibited over time that strongly influences one's expectations, self-perceptions, values, and attitudes. It also predicts human reactions to other people, problems, and stress.[1][2] There is still no universal consensus on the definition of "personality" in psychology. Gordon Allport (1937) described two major ways to study personality: the nomothetic and the idiographic. Nomothetic......

Words: 12161 - Pages: 49

Free Essay

Art History

...Art history From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation, search This article is about the academic discipline of art history. For an overview of the history of art worldwide, see History of art. For other uses, see Art history (disambiguation). This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (November 2011) Venus de Milo on display at the Louvre Art history has historically been understood as the academic study of objects of art in their historical development and stylistic contexts, i.e. genre, design, format, and style.[1] This includes the "major" arts of painting, sculpture, and architecture as well as the "minor" arts of ceramics, furniture, and other decorative objects. As a term, art history (also history of art) encompasses several methods of studying the visual arts; in common usage referring to works of art and architecture. Aspects of the discipline worms. As the art historian Ernst Gombrich once observed, "the field of art history [is] much like Caesar's Gaul, divided in three parts inhabited by three different, though not necessarily hostile tribes: (i) the connoisseurs, (ii) the critics, and (iii) the academic art historians".[2] As a discipline, art history is distinguished from art criticism, which is concerned with establishing a relative artistic value upon individual works with respect to others......

Words: 6080 - Pages: 25