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Robinson, L.H. (1985). The Illusion of no Future: Psychoanalysis and Religion. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 13(2):211-228.

(1985). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 13(2):211-228

The Illusion of no Future: Psychoanalysis and Religion

Lillian H. Robinson, M.D.

There are those who would have us believe that psychoanalysis and religion have both outlived their usefulness; that both are relics of less enlightened periods of human existence; that in psychiatry, “biological is better”; that ethics, justice and morality are attainable without religion; that secularism, materialism, and antidepressant drugs are sufficient for mankind's troubles in the 1980's. However, I am not convinced that God is dead or that psychoanalysis is anachronistic. In this presentation I first will attempt to explore some of the intriguing parallels, similarities and disparities of psychoanalysis and religion, particularly the Judeo–Christian tradition, and then present reasons and conditions for my sanguine view that both are here to stay.


Psychoanalysis is not yet 100 years old, whereas religion is as old as recorded history, and probably as old as man. Both psychoanalysis and religion are in crisis, struggling to remain relevant and meaningful; both have systems of theory and helping professionals; both search for truth; both have the goal of understanding. Religion seeks the truth regarding man's relationship to God and the universe; psychoanalysis is perhaps man's greatest effort to understand man. There are many theologies and metapsychologies that provide useful theoretical frameworks for these inquiries into the nature of God and man.

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