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Jones, J.W. (2007). The Return of the Repressed: Narcissism, Religion, and the Ferment in Psychoanalysis. Ann. Psychoanal., 35:47-60.

(2007). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 35:47-60

The Return of the Repressed: Narcissism, Religion, and the Ferment in Psychoanalysis

James W. Jones, Ph.D., Psy.D

For more than a decade two trends have been occurring simultaneously: A creative ferment has been going on in psychoanalysis, and there has been an upsurge of interest in the interactions between psychoanalysis and religion (Sorenson, 2004). This article examines the interface of these two trends by discussing points of intersection between the renewed interest in spirituality and two aspects of the rethinking going on in psychoanalysis.

Knowledge in Transition

The first area of ferment I want to talk about is the debate over epistemology. A central pillar of Freud's intellectual edifice was the reality principle, a metaphysical theory transformed into a diagnostic category. The “reality” behind the reality principle was the physical world as described by nineteenth-century physics. For Freud the opposite of the reality principle was the pleasure principle, which, among other things, stands for the gratification of our most basic desires. According to Freud, the infant experiences himself or herself as omnipotent, the center of the universe. The infant's wishes grow out of that early state. In the course of normal development, the inevitable intrusions of the reality principle frustrate this infantile grandiosity.

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