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Sorenson, R.L. (1994). Ongoing Change in Psychoanalytic Theory: Implications for Analysis of Religious Experience. Psychoanal. Dial., 4(4):631-660.

(1994). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 4(4):631-660

Ongoing Change in Psychoanalytic Theory: Implications for Analysis of Religious Experience Related Papers

Randall Lehmann Sorenson, Ph.D.

Hans Loewald (1980) once made the distinction between ghosts and ancestors, the former always wanting to return to the land of the living, the latter being able to rest in peace and live forth through their progeny in the present generation. Extending this metaphor, Stephen Mitchell (1991) has noted that the intellectual integrity and vitality of psychoanalysis depends on our shifting our view of Freud from an unburied ghost who haunts us to an honored ancestor. I argue that perhaps nowhere is Freud's enduring presence greater than in psychoanalytic perspectives on religion, and it is often as an unburied ghost. Ongoing change in psychoanalytic theory, however, affords respectful amendment to his work in a way that allows Freud to be a dearly honored ancestor from whom we are all psychoanalytic descendents. Three developments in psychoanalytic theory have special implication for the analysis of religious experience. These areas of change pertain to contemporary understanding of illusion, narrative, and social constructivism. I offer in conclusion seven points for further consideration.

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