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J., E. (1921). Religion and the New Psychology: A Psycho-Analytic Study of Religion. By W. S. Swisher, B.D. (Geo. Routledge and Sons, London, 1920. Pp. 261. Price 10s. 6d.).. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 2:130-132.

(1921). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 2:130-132

Religion and the New Psychology: A Psycho-Analytic Study of Religion. By W. S. Swisher, B.D. (Geo. Routledge and Sons, London, 1920. Pp. 261. Price 10s. 6d.).

Review by:
E. J.

From the publishers' announcement we learn that this is "the first attempt in book form to apply Psycho-Analytic or Freudian Psychology to the entire problem of Religion and the conduct of Human Life", but the reader will be disappointed if he expects from this to find a psycho-analysis of individual religious phenomena. There is in the book neither this nor any fundamental investigation of religious problems, so that the book would have to be pronounced unsuccessful if we were to accept the author's statement (p. x) that it "aims to be a comprehensive treatment of the religious problem in its various phases, the varied phenomena of religion, and various normal and abnormal religious types together with certain suggestions for a new and different kind of education, from the viewpoint of the new psychology".

We suspect, however, that the author's real aim was quite other than this, and that actually he has succeeded much better than might be thought if judged from the less modest standards indicated above. The desire evidently permeating the book is the altruistic wish to help other people who may find it hard to reconcile their religious tendencies with either the new psychology or the facts of life, and the spirit of goodwill and benevolence that breathes through the whole book quite disarms criticism. The author appears to be an American clergyman, presumably from Boston, who has come to realise that the old insistence of religious teachers on dogmatic beliefs and moral precepts as the sole guide to life urgently needs to be supplemented, if not indeed actually replaced, by a more comprehending attitude towards human nature and its possibilities. This he has found in psycho-analysis, which is of course the new psychology referred to in the title, and he follows his homiletic impulse to place before others the more satisfactory point of view he has himself attained.

The book is a kindly talk on such matters as the problem of evil, religious conversion, human motives, etc., as illuminated by psycho-analysis.

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