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Laor, N. (1986). Psychoanalysis and Religious Experience: By W. W. Meissner, S.J., M.D. New Haven/London: Yale University Press, 1984. 254 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 55:672-678.

(1986). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 55:672-678

Psychoanalysis and Religious Experience: By W. W. Meissner, S.J., M.D. New Haven/London: Yale University Press, 1984. 254 pp.

Review by:
Nathaniel Laor

Can psychoanalysis and religion be respectfully enriched by each other? Can these two fields survive the interest of scholars who

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have traditionally perceived them to be in irreconcilable conflict? Freud's devastating critique of religion and the intellectual success of psychoanalysis in our scholarly culture have mainly challenged the religious. Psychoanalysts have rarely taken up the case of religion as a challenge to classical psychoanalysis.

With the exception of Ana-Maria Rizzuto's The Birth of the Living God, it has indeed been quite some time since psychoanalysis has been presented with a scholarly investigation of the theoretical problems evoked by the traditional conflict between psychoanalysis and religion. Psychoanalysis and Religious Experience by William W. Meissner, a recognized authority among psychoanalytic scholars and a devoted student of both psychoanalysis and religion, is a study offered in an attempt to fill the cultural gap. It aims explicitly at making room for the one field as well as for the other and yet, without maintaining too rigid boundaries, to inform both psychoanalyst and theologian about the normal as well as abnormal vicissitudes of religious experience. In what follows, I shall first tell about Meissner's study and then comment on its import for both psychoanalysis and religion.

In the "Preface" to his study, Meissner states that he will address "The Freudian argument on religion … on its own ground and in its own terms"

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