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LaMothe, R. (2002). Loss and Re-creation of Faith in Freud's Life. Free Associations, 9(3):371-392.

(2002). Free Associations, 9(3):371-392

Loss and Re-creation of Faith in Freud's Life

Ryan LaMothe

In This Paper I examine Freud's lack of religious faith and how he handled this loss by creating new faith objects. I argue that Freud's early faith experiences in relation to his parents were painful and disruptive. These disturbances in faith led to a threefold response. First, Freud, as a child, needed to and was thus motivated to preserve trust, loyalty, and hope in relation to his parents and he did so, in part, by overlooking parental failures. Second, painful deficiencies in parental faith motivated Freud to create other more secure faith objects, which contained, to a degree, unconscious wished-for parental faith. Third, Freud, when an old man, used religion as a foil to ward off intense feelings of helplessness, which were, in part, connected to early painful losses in relation to his ‘real’ parents.

“We feel that even when all possible scientific questions have been answered, the problems of life remain completely untouched.” (Wittgenstein, Ayer, 1985, p. 31)

“If men (sic) no longer have faith in each other, can they exist as men?” (H. R. Niebuhr, 1989, p. 1; italics mine)

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