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J., E. (1928). An Approach to the Psychology of Religion: By J. Cyril Flower, M.A., Ph.D., Upton Lecturer in the Psychology of Religion, Manchester College, Oxford. (London, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., Ltd., 1927. Pp. 245. Price 10 s. 6 d.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 9:376-377.

(1928). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 9:376-377

An Approach to the Psychology of Religion: By J. Cyril Flower, M.A., Ph.D., Upton Lecturer in the Psychology of Religion, Manchester College, Oxford. (London, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., Ltd., 1927. Pp. 245. Price 10 s. 6 d.)

Review by:
E. J.

This volume, containing a Cambridge Ph.D. dissertation, is a broad and very well written contribution to the psychology of religion. More than a half of it is taken up with an intensive study of the religion of the Winnebago Indians and an account of George Fox, and these two studies constitute certainly the most valuable part of the book. There is a chapter on 'Psychopathology and Religion' which is distinctly inadequate.

The author's point of view is best illustrated by the following quotation: 'Once religion as a special type of response has been initiated it naturally and inevitably deals with the major interests which man instinctively pursues, but the fundamental problem of religion is: How is it that man comes to pursue these interests no longer directly by instinctive and other controlled practical behaviour, but indirectly by phantasy, imagination, belief, etc? A careful scrutiny of the facts of the past, so far as these are available in reliable form, of the facts in connection with the behaviour and beliefs of modern "primitives", and of the essence of the processes of our own thought, seems to me to lead to this answer: It is because man is the animal which discriminates more than the isolated presentations for which there is adequate external stimulus, and he does this without having any specific mechanism inherent in his make-up for response. It is this fundamental fact—which itself cannot be explained at present by anything simpler—that lies behind all the mental conflicts, fantasies, day-dreams, imaginations, visions, dreams, rationalizations, arts, philosophies, and religions of man. To attempt to derive religion from infantile mental processes is like trying to derive day from night. Infantile processes of fantasy and the rest are themselves the effects of contact with something which is more than the existing mechanisms for response are qualified to deal with' (pp. 208–9).

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