Does God exist? Was Freud right to view religion as a residue of infantile wish-fulfillment? Can modern science and spirituality be reconciled? Not afraid to tackle the big questions, Kenny’s prodigious combination of clarity and scholarship are exceptional. If Freud is the Bach of modern psychology, reading her – uniquely a Professor of Music as well as Psychology – is to encounter classic psychoanalytic scores interpreted in the light of contemporary understanding. A must-read for all students of psychoanalysis, psychology, philosophy and religion, and all who seek illumination in a post-modern world of chaos and confusion. - Professor Jeremy Holmes MD FRCPsych University of Exeter, UK
This a remarkable work of analysis and integration of perspectives. Dianna Kenny addresses crucial questions: can science and religion pull together as a team instead of pulling apart? Should we blame religious fanatics or religion itself for violence?
Does religion have a monopoly on values?
The author canvassers questions of faith, extremism and violence in Christian and Islamic religions in particular and evokes parallels with nationalistic ideologies and dictatorial regimes from earlier and more recent history.
This work should help us understand how fundamentalist beliefs are formed and why they are difficult to modify, and how religious beliefs can be employed in the service of perverting human nature for political and other secular purposes.
Professor Kenney’s discussion the formation of fundamentalist beliefs should contribute towards understanding some of the underlying roots of current conflicts, for example in the Middle East, and can help towards conflict resolution and peace in our troubled world. As such it is particularly timely. - Ahmad Shboul AM, Former Chair of the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies, The University of Sydney
Religious fundamentalism—what Kenny aptly characterizes as terror theology-- has been a major source of violence, both large scale and small, over the course of human history. The terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and the "holy" crusades are just two of a multitude of examples of atrocity committed in the name of God. Thus Kenny’s penetrating, exhaustive, multidisciplinary examination of the genesis of religious belief and how it has been exploited for political purposes is no mere academic exercise. It is an attempt to locate significant roots of what philosopher Hannah Arendt aptly terms radical evil. - Robert D. Stolorow, PhD, author, World, Affectivity, Trauma: Heidegger and Post-Cartesian Psychoanalysis (Routledge, 2011)
The Bible tells us that God created man in his own image. Freud argued the reverse – that Man created God in his image. This book interrogates these two propositions to provide a coherent account of why people might believe in God. In God, Freud and Religion, a psychoanalytic perspective and Freud’s works on religion offer a framework for examining the genesis of religious belief and its use in manipulating human behaviour for secular or political purposes.
Drawing on theories from psychoanalysis, developmental, cognitive, social psychology, and neuroscience, Dianna Kenny examines arguments for and against belief and explores the relationship between science and religion, and between religion and cognition and emotion. All of Freud’s major works on religion are analysed with a view to assessing his theoretical formulations about the origins of religion. This includes a discussion of religious delusions that occur in psychotic states and the psychodynamics of religion’s close cousins and allies - myths, legends and fairy tales – that arose in the course of human evolution and took their place alongside religion in the human psyche.
Also examined are the personal psychologies of philosophers, believers and non-believers and how their individual life experiences impact on their belief systems. Using the frameworks of social psychology and psychoanalytic theory, the book concludes with an examination of group processes, including cult membership, the origins of interpersonal violence, terror theology, Christian and Islamic fundamentalism and the meaning of suicide bombing.
A unique approach to understanding religious belief, God, Freud and Religion will be of interest to psychoanalysts, psychologists and psychotherapists, students of psychology, psychoanalysis, philosophy and theology and all those with an interest in religion and human behaviour.
Dianna Kenny is Professor of Psychology at the University of Sydney, Australia. She is the author of over 200 publications, including six books.
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