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Branfman, T. (1950). International Journal of Psychoanalysis. XXVIII, 1947: Science and Belief. C. H. Waddington. Pp. 123–130.. Psychoanal Q., 19:128.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: International Journal of Psychoanalysis. XXVIII, 1947: Science and Belief. C. H. Waddington. Pp. 123–130.

(1950). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 19:128

International Journal of Psychoanalysis. XXVIII, 1947: Science and Belief. C. H. Waddington. Pp. 123–130.

Theodore Branfman

In this paper, the second Ernest Jones Lecture delivered to the British Psychoanalytical Society on November 19, 1947, Waddington quotes Jones who pointed out thirty years ago that matters of belief (religious, ethical, political, etc.) have their origin in the unconscious. Although older beliefs have been undermined by the advance of science, they have been replaced by new myths and doctrinal schemes. In so far as beliefs continue profoundly to influence men's actions, it is important not to adopt a high-minded silence about them. However, the center of interest must shift from the nature of the ideal to the mechanisms by which beliefs in general come to be formed and the part they play in the functioning of the whole personality.

While belief is essentially a restraining force (superego), it may be employed in carrying out violent actions derived from primitive urges (id). The belief structure may be regarded as an introjection of a parent and as such it is the subject of both love and hate. This inner tension may become increasingly acute and lead to the commission of terrible crimes in the name of the very ideals which are supposed to prevent such conduct. This danger, inherent in the belief structure, may be averted by erecting a second dualism in which the hate of the first can be mutated into the service of the second. The Christian belief structure is cited as an example of this with the two ideals of holy humility and the organized Church. The present danger would seem to lie in the exclusive belief in the ideal of free enterprise or that of social organization.

A further requirement of a benign belief structure is that it be not unduly restrictive if it is to fulfil its function of enlarging the breadth and scope of social heritage which the individual is willing to acknowledge, test, and possibly accept. Finally Waddington suggests that the scientific ideal (attitude of logical thought checked by appeal to experience) combined with the quite different ideal of the creative artist offers a possible dualistic belief structure for man in our time.

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Article Citation

Branfman, T. (1950). International Journal of Psychoanalysis. XXVIII, 1947. Psychoanal. Q., 19:128

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