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Foss, T. (2011). Grappling with Die Letzte Dinge: The Persistent Interest of Psychoanalysis in Religious Experience. Scand. Psychoanal. Rev., 34(1):41-49.

(2011). Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 34(1):41-49

Grappling with Die Letzte Dinge: The Persistent Interest of Psychoanalysis in Religious Experience

Torberg Foss

Freud's initial critical attitude towards religion is well known: religious belief was associated with infantilism, and religious teachings violated the principles of reason. This article brings forth certain nuances in Freud's views on religion. Why was it that he, a “godless Jew”, but a self-declared agnostic, never brought to a closure his preoccupation with God and interest in religion? An increasingly sympathetic approach to religion can be discerned in contemporary psychoanalysis. The author critically discusses these early and late trends, including the position of Jung with regard to religion. Making use of the writings of Françoise Dolto and the novelist Flannery O'Connor, he emphasizes the unfeasibility of a psychology of religiousness, the partial overlap between a personal psychoanalysis and certain spiritual experiences, and the superiority of literature to psychoanalytic theorizing in conveying the experience of grace.

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