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Bartoli, E. (2007). Off the Beaten Path? Psychoanalysts' Religious and Spiritual Perspectives: Implications for Training. Ann. Psychoanal., 35:9-23.

(2007). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 35:9-23

I Broad Approaches

Off the Beaten Path? Psychoanalysts' Religious and Spiritual Perspectives: Implications for Training

Eleonora Bartoli, Ph.D.

Religion and spirituality continue to be controversial topics in psychotherapeutic circles and all the more so in psychoanalytic settings. The origins of the contentious relationship between the two fields are well known. Freud's views on religion left little to interpretation or speculation (Freud, 1907, 1913, 1919, 1923, 1927, 1928, 1930, 1939). Freud viewed religion as merely a projection of infantile wishes and needs and considered the idea of God to be the product of a deluded mind. Partly because of the historical (i.e., World War II) and cultural (i.e., the rise of science and technology) time in which Freud lived, his views have been supremely influential not simply on later developments of psychoanalytic thought but on the field of psychology as a whole.

Given this history, much tends to be assumed about the religious identity, backgrounds, and views of clinicians in general and psychoanalysts in particular. Both groups often are thought of as fundamentally atheist and uninterested, at best, in religious and spiritual matters.

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