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Blass, R.B. (2004). Beyond illusion: Psychoanalysis and the question of religious truth. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 85(3):615-634.

(2004). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 85(3):615-634

Beyond illusion: Psychoanalysis and the question of religious truth

Rachel B. Blass

In this paper the author critically examines the nature of the positive, reconciliatory attitude towards religion that has become increasingly prevalent within psychoanalytic thinking and writing over the past 20 years. She shows how this positive attitude rests on a change in the nature of the prototype of religion and its reassignment to the realm of illusion, thus making irrelevant an issue most central both to psychoanalysis and to traditional Judeo-Christian belief—the passionate search for truth. The author demonstrates how the concern with truth, and specifically with the truth of religious claims, lies at the basis of the opposition between psychoanalysis and religion but, paradoxically, also provides the common ground for dialogue between the two. She argues that, as Freud developed his ideas regarding the origin of conviction in religious claims in his Moses and monotheism (1939), the nature of this common ground was expanded and the dialogue became potentially more meaningful. The author concludes that meaningful dialogue emerges through recognition of fundamental differences rather than through harmonisation within a realm of illusion. In this light, the present study may also be seen as an attempt to recognise fundamental differences that have been evolving within psychoanalysis itself.

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