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Freud, S. (1929). A Religious Experience. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 10:1-4.

(1929). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 10:1-4

A Religious Experience

Sigmund Freud

In the autumn of 1927 I had, very willingly, received a visit from a German-American journalist (G. S. Viereck), who then published a conversation with me recounting my lack of religious beliefs and my indifference to survival after death. This so-called interview was widely read, and, among others, it brought me the following letter from an American medical man:—

… What struck me most was your answer to the question whether you believe in a survival of personality after death. You are reported as having said, "I give no thought to the matter".

I am writing now to tell you of an experience that I had in the year I graduated at the University of X. One afternoon while I was passing through the dissecting-room my attention was attracted to a sweet-faced dear old woman who was being carried to a dissecting-table. This sweet-faced woman made such an impression on me that a thought flashed up in my mind, "There is no God: if there were a God he would not have allowed this dear old woman to be brought into the dissecting-room".

When I got home that afternoon the feeling I had had at the sight in the dissecting-room had determined me to discontinue going to church. The doctrines of Christianity had before this been the subject of doubts in my mind.

While I was meditating on this matter a voice spoke to my soul that "I should consider the step I was about to take". My spirit replied to this inner voice by saying, "If I knew of a certainty that Christianity was truth and the Bible was the Word of God, then I would accept it".

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