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Riggall, R.M. (1928). Religious Conversion: By Sante de Sanctis, Professor of Psychology in the University of Rome. (London, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., Ltd., 1927. Pp. 324. Price 12 s. b d.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 9:503-504.

(1928). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 9:503-504

Religious Conversion: By Sante de Sanctis, Professor of Psychology in the University of Rome. (London, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., Ltd., 1927. Pp. 324. Price 12 s. b d.

Review by:
Robert M. Riggall

Professor de Sanctis has succeeded in collecting some valuable material illustrating conditions predisposing to religious conversion. He deals minutely with the process of conversion and its results, exposing some of the fallacies of certain pathological theories. Although psycho-analytical terms are employed to illustrate his arguments, he is unwilling to accept the main tenets of Freudian psychology; for example, we find that he objects to the application of psycho-analytical principles to race history, overlooking the important similarity between the unconscious and the primitive (p. 20). While admitting the legitimacy of psycho-analytic technique in the individual, he does not agree that its principles can be applied to the conscious group mind. We are therefore not surprised to find that he is unable to accept the Freudian explanation of the origin of religion and myths.

On p. 105 it is stated that conversion is a regression to an infantile state of mind. This regression is applauded and is evidently regarded as non-pathological. This significant statement is interesting in view of some of Freud's latest work on the subject where the development of mankind is compared to the individual development from childhood to manhood. Religion is contrasted with a childhood neurosis which Freud believes will be overcome by mankind in the way that children overcome similar neuroses.

We are unable to criticize in detail the lengthy chapter on sublimation.

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