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Wilson, E., Jr. (2003). Revue Française de psychanalyse. Psychoanal Q., 72(3):843-873.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Revue Française de psychanalyse
The papers in this issue, all on the theme of belief, date from a conference held in Barcelona in 1996, yet they have an uncanny relevance to our current concerns, given the resurgence of religion in this country, as well as our struggle with religious fanaticism and religious intolerance. Many recent controversies—for example, the motto “In God We Trust” on our coins, the intense religious fervor of some of our elected leaders in spite of the constitutional difficulties they are creating, the splitting of self and other into antagonistic poles in the “for-us-or-against-us” stance with which some want to meet the Islamic jihad that now apparently targets us—can begin to be placed in perspective, to some degree, by a deeper understanding of belief and belief systems and the role they play in the human psyche.
Michèle Bertrand and Pierre Chauvel present an overview of the psychoanalytic concerns about belief and belief systems. The perspectives opened up by Freud and by Winnicott, though essential, leave unanswered many questions about a metapsychological approach to belief. Among these questions is the definition of belief, as well as the relationship between belief and illusion and what changes an illusion into a belief. Beliefs infiltrate psychic functioning and may come to dominate it entirely. A true belief is an organizing force for the believer, one that is very different from an opinion, reasonable certitude, or simple beliefs such as “I think that it's going to rain.” Science and rationalism
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supposedly find an opposition between belief and scientific certitude, but scientism is itself a belief developed out of a mode of thinking that originally set out to combat beliefs.
What about the unconscious origins of belief? Does not the belief credited to persons in authority derive from our dependence as infants on the adults about us? Is it not founded on the idealization of our parents? Such credulity would seem to be part of the most profound motivations of the psyche. And what is the relationship between belief and narcissism? Perhaps beliefs aim at protecting the narcissism of those who adopt them, while narcissistic rage develops out of the necessity of defending every belief that heals a traumatic wound.
Belief must be considered in the light of splitting and denial. Belief is related to splitting of the ego, involving affirmation and negation, which play a simultaneous, reciprocal role, as shown in such expressions as “I know, but still….” Examples might also be seen in “Christ was crucified but He is risen,” or “Stalin is dead but he lives in our hearts,” or in the famous dictum of the thirdcentury Christian apologist, Tertullian: credo quia impossibile est (“I believe because it is impossible”).
The metapsychology of belief needs elaboration. What is its topographical status? Is belief a conscious/preconscious phenomenon? In what measure is it also unconscious? Is the object of belief internal? Is it external, shared by a group? Is a common belief required, something like a religion of the State, in order to live together in a society?
What about belief in psychoanalysis? Is there a minimal belief in psychoanalysis necessary for an analysis to take place? In psychoanalytic groups, scientific certainty seems to be involved and is often expressed in a body of accepted beliefs. Are we forever bound to reformulate our theories when they become beliefs?
Finally, we are faced with questions of the refutability or irrefutability of psychoanalysis, as well as of the reproducibility of results, that go along with belief in psychoanalysis. In analytic treatment, the arrival of conviction is sometimes equated to the lifting of repression. This raises questions about suggestion and the intrusion
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of the analyst's beliefs, against which Winnicott attempted to show the importance of a transitional space uncontaminated by the beliefs of the analyst.
Beliefs. Carlos Padrón Estarriol Pp. 787-810.
In the lead article, Padrón Estarriol offers some psychoanalytic reflections about the mental processes intimately linked with belief. We deal every day with the consequences of belief on behavior. Our lives are filled with and marked by activities that derive from previous convictions, from hypotheses and premises that are always anchored in the obscurity of not knowing with certainty. A great part of our intellectual life has as its aim the search for something that is curiously imprecise, something that we call “the truth.” Often a belief is preferred to the truth when it is discovered, when we are confronted with what we cannot believe. We must ask what is the relation of belief to comfort, to suffering, and to sublimation. The psychic statuses of illusion, conviction, belief, and knowledge are important and need to be sorted out.
Religion is one of the forms taken by the psychic process of belief. It is not for the analyst to understand what the analysand believes, but rather to understand why he or she believes and what place this belief occupies in the patient's psychic functioning. Whatever the content of a belief may be, the essential thing for the believer, Padrón Estarriol claims, is not the fundamental content, but the believer's attitude in the face of the consequences of that belief, the implications of the belief for behavior, and, especially, in the relation between tolerance and belief. Even in a discussion of religious belief, the focus should be on belief itself as a psychic phenomenon, as a major motivating force in human behavior, rather than on content. Tolerance opposes the feeling of danger that arises in confronting someone who does not believe the same. Some of the worst and greatest crimes have, unfortunately, been committed in defense of beliefs when the capacity for tolerance was lacking.
Freud's approach to religion involved a rigid and thoroughgoing application of scientific positivism. Religion for Freud was
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the expression of the wish to have the protection of the father (or of the father and mother, confused and androgynous in their narcissistic omnipotence) as conceived in infancy. God was regarded as an illusory figure, an exalted phantasm of the paternal figure of infancy. However, Padrón Estarriol insists, this is an attempt to legislate. The scientist and the analyst should not decide whether or not God exists, for then they leave their own fields for ontology. The analyst's interest in belief should be to discover in each instance the function that belief has and will have for that individual, and what has been its evolution. One believes either that God exists or in the nonexistence of God, but in either case, it is a matter of belief.
At the same time, the analyst should understand what place his or her own beliefs occupy in the analyst's functioning, and what sort of influence they have on his or her clinical perceptions. Belief in a theory is not always a trap, but it certainly can be one when the analyst takes refuge in it, rather than attempting to understand experience—whether the patient's or the analyst's own.
Padrón Estarriol's interest in belief led him to study mystical experience. The early analysts dismissed mystical experiences as pathological—for example, as a progressive melancholia (Alexander) or distorted sexuality (Reich). Their conclusions were not founded on clinical analytic work, but on observing severely disturbed pathological cases or reflecting on written texts. These were hasty conclusions, and the data were not obtained from an analytic setting. According to Freud, the conditions of religious experience seem to involve a devaluation of real life, hence a denial, a new constitution of a concrete neoreality, intellectual inhibitions, and a psychic infantilism in the form of a repression of affect. In his research into the mystical texts of Spanish writers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, however, Padrón Estarriol found none of these characteristics. The mystics were often quite well educated, intellectually active, and familiar with the literature of their time. Some founded excellent universities and institutions that still exist today as organized structures.
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Padrón Estarriol reviews the conditions in which mystical phenomena occur, finding parallels in various psychological phenomena, such as déjà vu and déjà vecu experiences, depersonalization, derealization, and negative hallucination. Others have compared mystical experience to the creative activity of writing, while some have viewed intensely emotional group experiences as similar to those of the mystics. Padrón Estarriol finds some artistic experiences comparable to these—for example, looking at Picasso's Guernica, which for some viewers has a traumatic aspect. We should not rush to call these mystical moments pathological.
From the point of view of metapsychology, mystical experiences raise problems that are difficult to understand. In mystical experiences, there is a dynamiccharacter that suggests to Padrón Estarriol the possibility of an intersystemic communication, often with strong affect invading consciousness in an abrupt fashion, sometimes occurring, though not always, after ascetic experiences. Put differently, a topographical short circuit seems to develop, skipping over the preconscious and opening up a different route of unconscious expression without a prior link to words. This short circuiting has a traumatic quality.
An analysand and a mystic are similar in that they are both transformed by an affective experience that takes the principal role. Like creative and mutative moments in psychoanalytic treatment, events that we call illuminations or insights, these mystical moments may alter and enrich the deepest levels of the psychic apparatus.
A Credulous Drive. Claude Le Guen Pp. 811-824.
Le Guen notes that belief, as well as many concepts such as will and attention, were left by Freud to traditional psychology while he focused more on imagination and memory. Even if psychoanalysis did not introduce these omitted concepts into the theory as such, that, of course, does not keep them from existing, in the manner of Charcot's famous witticism. Padrón Estarriol and many philosophers, following Plato, make a rigid distinction between
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knowing and believing. Le Guen holds in contrast that the boundaries between knowledge and belief are quite fluid and lead to confusions. Le Guen proposes another distinction as more helpful, namely, belief and doubt. Science is the condition of the acquisition of knowledge as opposed to belief, and science involves doubt, the true opposite of belief.
One of the problems with belief is that it has characteristics closely related to those of the unconscious, while doubt is more characteristic of the ego. Belief has the obtuse immutability that is found in the unconscious. Another parallel with the unconscious is that belief admits of the juxtaposition of the most flagrant contradictions. Freud's positivism was very different from the scientific positivism of Auguste Comte, especially with the introduction of the concept of the unconscious, a concept against which the positivists fought (and still fight). Freud's position on religion was derived solely from the principles of psychoanalysis.
Le Guen also questions what Padrón Estarriol described as the “obvious” progress toward monotheism. He offers a personal recollection of a visit to the temple at Philae in Egypt, where the splendid artwork of the Egyptian temple was long ago desecrated by Christians, who constructed a mean little church among the ruins. Intolerance is built into belief; it is inherent in the very nature of belief. Each age has seen this, and it is quite starkly present even now. Did not monotheism tend toward intolerance, toward psychic systems that were more and more totalitarian than those religions involving a plurality of gods?
We cannot focus just on the implications of belief for behavior, the role belief plays in an individual's life, as Padrón Estarriol argued. What is believed is also important; it is the manifest content that should come under scrutiny in analysis as well. It is the necessary pathway that leads us from the manifest content to the latent.
Le Guen acknowledges Padrón Estarriol's exciting new insight concerning the topographical short-circuiting involved in mystical phenomena. The concept of a sudden emergence of primary process, with affect suddenly invading consciousness, realizing an
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intersystemic communication, should be pursued further. Such short-circuiting could contribute to the specificity of belief, which, in general, seems not to need a prior link to verbal representations. There are sometimes no words to express a belief; it is like an a posteriori justification, fatefully arbitrary. This would be consistent with the view that belief is a manifestation of primary process and carries the characteristics of primary processthinking.
What would ultimately be a metapsychology of belief? Should we try to integrate belief into our metapsychology? Does belief have a role in the therapeutic process? Can it be used deliberately in treatment? Le Guen discusses the reintroduction or rehabilitation of classical faculties of psychology into psychoanalysis, and the links between belief, reality, doubt, and judgment. Belief is one of those concepts that have a reassuring feel of familiarity, but classical faculties carry with them an aura of being out of date and no longer in use. Perhaps belief deserves some sort of rehabilitation in our psychology. We need belief to operate in our daily life; otherwise, we fall victim to obsessive doubt. Recourse to belief is a necessity for our psychic life as well as for the daily trivialities of life. Thus, belief does not differ at all from all the other unconsciousprocesses that determine us and assure our survival.
Le Guen wonders whether there is perhaps a credulous drive, a drive to believe. This mode of examining belief provides a field of exploration for psychoanalysis. But if belief is close to a drive, it must be corrected, managed, restrained, and checked; in other words, one must defend against it through, for example, doubt and judgment. Hence, belief and doubt appear as two complementary and contradictory—and thus dialectical—poles of psychic functioning.
The Work of Disbelieving. Guy Laval Pp. 825-835.
Laval applauds Padrón Estarriol for broaching questions so often passed over in psychoanalysis, even though we are continually confronted with the destructive effects of beliefs, a destructiveness
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that runs counter to the modern hope that the extension of culture will annihilate the effects of ignorance and superstition. The words believe and belief are, however, imprecise in meaning. The model Laval takes is that of religion, though there are other belief systems that rival religion, with equal emphasis on objects of purity, passion, and, all too often, violence. The object of belief undergoes a process of idealization; it is made sacred, fixed, and not susceptible to evolution or elaboration. This is the inverse of scientific reasoning, which involves the “obscurity of not knowing” that Padrón Estarriol described. The idealized quality of the object is shown, Laval argues, in the difference between “I believe in God” and “I do not believe in God.” It seems to Laval questionable whether there is a parallel between the two statements, as Padrón Estarriol claimed. It is far from evident that there is a symmetrical counter belief. The first is a statement of belief, while the other can be simply an answer to a question.
The belief of the analyst is something different from this idealization of the object of belief. In belief, the truth is foremost and precedes all questioning, a position incompatible with the theoretical and practical exercise of psychoanalysis. No doubt there are ardent “believers” among analysts with regard to psychoanalytic theory (a phenomenon not limited to Lacanians, by any means), but this is something to deplore. In the evenly floating attention of the analyst, many things come up (memories, insights, analogies, knowledge, affects) but never, we should hope, does something of the glaciation and stereotypy of belief arise. One has confidence in a theory and does not have to retheorize it each time it is used. The nature of psychoanalytic training develops this type of confidence as a provisory scientific attitude that eventually one might rework and overturn with one's own theorizing.
It is from disbelieving, the giving up of belief, that we learn something of the psychic functioning of the believer. A belief that is undone becomes accessible to analysis, inviting us into its inner workings. The deidealization of the object provokes a sort of vacillation, a process of depersonalization, and a narcissistic loss. It is wise to distinguish between the abandonment of a belief
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and the abandonment of the psychic functioning that corresponds to it. A simple decision to abandon the content of a belief is not inserted into the groundwork of grief and has no effect on structure. One may reject the idealized object, but not the functioning, and usually a substitute object is chosen with some immediacy and haste.
In contrast, the work of disbelieving, should it occur, is enormous. The path toward the acceptance of conflict is painful and nonlinear. It is strewn with doubts, turns, and turnings back, with doubt hovering over as well our libidinal capacity to maintain the work of mourning, for to give up a belief a period of mourning is necessary. Should disbelieving occur suddenly, as in the abrupt loss of a loved one, there might be a resulting brutal loss of religious faith, a total abandonment of a religion that has not kept its secret promises of protection against death to an individual who has not sufficiently elaborated the question of the inevitability of death. The bereaved subject is then left defenseless, and a deep, sometimes suicidal depression might ensue, or a wound develops that is maintained throughout life, restricting the autonomy of the subject and his or her capacity for growth. The wound occasions a veritable libidinal hemorrhage.
Maintaining a belief implies the maintenance of splitting, probably by a process of countercathexis that is very costly in energy. The object of belief, as well as the crowd of cobelievers, facilitates the narcissistic process that covers over a fault, failing, or lack. There is a narcissistic advantage in blending in with the community of believers, but this communal fusion limits the autonomy of the individual. This community of belief is the antithesis of democratic society, for democracy needs individual liberty and inevitable conflict. Belief hinders communication, linking, and the simultaneous cathexis of representations or perceptions, which, in the contrary case, would cause a conflict to break out. Such conflict cannot be admitted by the ego, because it is damaging for the chain that binds the believer to the community.
Laval attempts to characterize belief metapsychologically. The object of belief is an object of a narcissistic type. In this sense, belief
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is a response to a defect in the capacity to form object relations. Without the idealized object in which to believe, the believer's ego disintegrates. Belief is for the believer a necessity, not an aspiration. The function of idealization is to desexualize—not in the sense of the sublimation of a sexual impulse, but as a total rejection of sexuality. This gives prevalence to the deathinstinct, especially at the level of the superego, which becomes a pure culture of the deathinstinct, functioning only to verify that there is a constant glorification of the idealized object and to punish those who do not fulfill their duties toward the object. The economic point of view emphasizes the predominance of the impulse of destruction that infiltrates the ego and especially the superego: the believer is a passionate zealot.
Topographically, there is a reordering. The ego of the believer is dominated by the ego ideal that imposes a particular configuration. As in love, the object has taken the place of the ego ideal, but in a fashion that sees the object as definitive and final, and the ego will always be insufficient with respect to this ideal. In love, the object is “objectal,” the sexual impulses determine the risks of the cathexis, and tender motives substitute for whatever there might be of aggression, so that the love remains viable over the long term. In belief, in contrast to love, the object is narcissistic and tyrannical, and the ego is defenseless (like the ego of the melancholic) if there is a defection. The ideal self is activated by the narcissistic surplus offered to the believer. The subject participates in the omnipotence of the church or the party, for example, and every simple believer is placed in a position of superiority with respect to those who are rejected or stigmatized by the system. The superego exists only within narrow limits, for the ego ideal has fused with it and is subordinated to it. It has only to watch and punish the subject before every failure from the requirements of the object.
The believer wants his or her ideal to be universal: the church must be catholic; communism must be universal. Yet this is only a caricature because the truly universal implies conflict and includes elements of conflictuality. Conflictuality implies the acceptance
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of divergences and differences and their elaboration, with a view to an eventual compromise that can at any moment be brought into question. Eventually, at a certain point, there develops the exclusion of all that might lead to conflict: the heretic, the Jew, the enemy of the party, the poor, and so on. The idealsociety of the believer does not recognize dissension, anarchy, or impurity. It aims at the eradication of all possible sources of conflict in a radical fashion, via an extermination of individuals or groups fantasized to come from this source.
Finally, one cannot speak about belief without raising the question of violence—from the total extermination of the partisans of Arianism in North Africa by the armies of Constantinople, to the current Islamic murders committed in the name of Allah. History is strewn with violence linked to religious fanaticism. Believing is not innocent in our time, when certain believers give themselves the right to kill—and to kill in numbers—those who do not believe, or even those who simply do not believe as they do. The gods are always thirsty, in the apt title of the novel by Anatole France, and recent history shows us with horror that the taste for blood is not something the gods are ready to give up. The integrity of the idealized object that guarantees the integrity of the subject must be maintained at any price, passionately, in a sort of oceanic narcissism. The ego ideal displaces the superego, that last barrier to a murderous issue of the deathinstinct, thereby giving to the church or the party the permission to kill, to annihilate those who refuse the ideal. The Other is radicalized. The fanatic believer rejects otherness; he or she can conceive of the Other only as an authentic nonbeliever. Refusing to recognize conflictuality, the believer desires not confrontation, but the eradication of nonbelief. This is the logic of war and of extermination, contrary to the conflictuality that maintains creative tension.
Belief in Castration and Castration of Belief. Carlos Sopena Pp. 843-848.
The domain of beliefs is quite varied, not only in content, but also in the degree of adherence to those beliefs. Some beliefs are fundamentally pathological and can reach delusion and psychic
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disorganization; others, in contrast, have a function in the regulation of the subject's structuralization, making it possible for the individual to enter the social order based on a series of norms and beliefs that configure the collective identity. Disbelief, as J.-B. Pontalis has observed, can be an expression of a disturbance in belief. Pontalis cited as examples the persistent doubt of the obsessional, the systematic distrust of the paranoid, and the lack of belief of the hysteric in his or her own perceptions, which he or she comes to consider as real theater. Pontalis also mentioned the borderline, who has no confidence in the messages he or she receives, and of the depressed person, who questions truth, showing a pathological lucidity. Whence comes this disturbance of belief of which we see so many clinical manifestations?
Sopena discusses the role of the child's belief in castration, and the relationship between belief, the Oedipus complex, and castration. There exists a primitive, universal belief according to which all beings, including inanimate objects, are phallic. When the belief in the maternal phallus is shattered, the mother is transformed into an empty, devouring space. All the orifices of the maternal body become threatening and terrorizing. It becomes necessary to protect oneself from this attractive force in order not to be absorbed. The most efficient protection comes from the interdiction of incest, which threatens castration. The dangerous situation is thus defined and organized around the fantasy of castration, which is a fear carrying a name and which contains and diminishes anxiety, preventing anxiety from developing beyond certain limits.
Yet the efficacy of this threat depends on whether the interdiction of incest is considered real. If the protective interdiction is not firmly established, it becomes necessary to appeal to much more complicated procedures of a proven pathogenic efficacy. We know that the perverse defense consists in creating a fetish that permits the denial of maternal castration at the price of a pathological splitting of the ego. Neuroses stop short of that, by producing inhibitions, symptoms, and anxieties that act as a barrier or a limit between the subject and the maternal body.
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Freud seems to have held two views on this. In “The Dissolution of the Oedipus Complex,” he began by saying that the Oedipus complex succumbs to its own failure because of its impossibility. The absence of satisfaction relieves the child of the inclination that has no hope. Further on, however, Freud affirmed that the complex succumbs to the threat of castration, that is to say, to external influences. These are two different things, because if the impossibility of incest is certain, the threat of castration is only probable and has no value except for the child who believes in it. At the beginning, the child does not believe or acknowledge the threat, until the moment when disbelief shatters: when the child perceives the feminine genital organ. Thus, for the impossibility of incest to be admitted, it is necessary to supplement it with a belief that transforms it into something that is forbidden. The impossibility of incest is transformed into a conflict between desire and interdiction; a simple impossibility is transformed into a forbidden satisfaction through belief in the threat of castration. The interdiction and the threat of castration thus serve to mask and hide the impossibility of incest.
Neurotics do not actually believe in the interdiction, even if they do not ignore it. In a certain manner, the neurotic believes that the realization of incest is possible, a belief that is the expression of a regressive wish. This belief is destructive, for because of it, not only does the neurotic remain fixed on the primaryobject, but he or she also imposes upon the self a terrifying superego, and must create phobias or obsessions or maintain the desire constantly unsatisfied, in order to avoid that which he or she believes possible to accomplish. Neurosis is a means of protecting incest without renouncing it and without admitting that it is impossible.
There is thus a contradiction inherent in all belief. From the psychoanalytic point of view, belief is founded on desire and is a defense against anxiety. Belief organizes and gives meaning; it permits one to protect oneself from the irruption of nonsense and chaos by offering the possibility of symbolizing anxiety produced by this irruption. Sopena uses as an example our attitudes
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toward death and adversity. In Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Freud wrote that primitive people do not have the concept of a natural death, and that they attribute the deaths of those around them to an enemy or an evil spirit. To believe that death arrives only because of an external will is a means of denying that it is a natural fact, which puts into question our narcissism and our omnipotent fantasies. Human beings tend to deny death and common, ordinary unhappiness, in which all singularity is abolished, because the conditions are the same for all, even if the incidences are for each of us particular. It is very difficult to admit the contingency of adversity, that is, anonymous, depersonalized, unintentional adversity. In the case of the paranoid, the pursuer is always personalized and intentional; in the case of the neurotic, unhappiness is transformed into neurotic misery, i.e., a particular, unshared mode of being unhappy, where there is always someone responsible, whether it is the subject or another. Desire is animated by desire, but one must add that in the last instance, this desire is inevitably contradictory because of the discord in the interior of instincts. All belief is thus as intrinsically contradictory as the desire that is its origin. Therefore, one can affirm that belief is situated on a foundation of disbelief, and that we do not fully believe that which we believe.
Due to this contradiction, there is an imprecise domain between belief and disbelief, where doubt takes root. The most evolved beliefs are those that best tolerate being put into question and doubted, while the most regressive and the most inconsistent are those that one defends with the most fanaticism, as if in regard to a matter of supreme, eternal verities that must not be confronted with other ideas or with reality. The problem posed by beliefs is not found so much in their content as in the question of whether or not they guard a potential space for doubt, and whether their internal contradictions can be dealt with. It is indeed exactly that which is lacking in totalitarian beliefs, where there is no place for incertitude, and in extreme cases, a delusional conviction is imposed on the subject.
The narcissistic cathexis of a belief may also create problems when one's identity, the image of the self, is defined by what one
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believes. The believer then defends his or her belief to the bitter end in order to preserve a fragile sense of identity, threatened by the beliefs held by others. Frequently, there may be a simplistic reductionism in which the conflictual tension that one's own belief contains, its internal, secret contradiction, is channeled to the exterior and transformed so that the conflict seems to be between absolute and opposing beliefs.
The Self as the Foundation of the Synthetic Function of the Ego. Hypotheses Starting from Dreams. Jean Guillaumin Pp. 845-855.
In a discussion of the Freudian schema of topographicalregression in The Interpretation of Dreams, César Botella made the observation that, even though Freud clearly established the existence of an orientation or direction that can be reversed, in the displacement of cathexis traversing in a regressive fashion the psychic apparatus in the dream, everything nonetheless happens as if the two extremities, the polarities that we know, are joined in some way behind the scenes. Guillaumin finds this to be a quite penetrating observation and wishes to develop it further. The suggestion is that hallucinatory space, or the oneiro-perceptive space, is in a certain fashion looped round on itself, perhaps curved, like Einsteinian relativity.
There are other arguments from the phenomenology of dreams. Lewin's blank screen has something of a curved or convex shape, and André Green discussed the closure of the dream space. All these images of a loop, a circle, or a closure are of a form that regulates itself, that brings about its own synthesis, in organizing its path to rejoin itself at the point of departure. Selfregulation would then be a property of oneiro-perceptive and hallucinatory space. It is thus tempting to move from the dream to the dreamer, from the perceived or represented to the perceiver and to the subject of the representation.
This dynamically looped or circular character of hallucinatory oneiro-perceptive space thus evokes the idea of unity, of an individual identity capable of closing on itself, to a certain degree, and of adjusting its own frontiers, something like the monads
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of Leibniz. This characteristic of the oneiro-perceptive space is a necessary background to the experience we have of dreams. It is that of a body that is itself closed, the maternal container, perceived now from outside as a support, now from within as the enveloping, maternal uterine wall. Guillaumin suggests that this is what we vaguely, but with insistence, call the Self—that is, a capacity that is logically primordial and anterior to the ego because it furnishes a framework for all representational activity. The Self, upon which depends the synthesis of the ego, comes from a sort of existential given, from a specific mode of functioning, determined a priori by the mind/body link. The Self in this sense is not a structure or a region of the psychic apparatus, like the unconscious and preconscious or the ego, superego, and id. It is the foundation of these structures and their condition.
This may have been what Winnicott meant by the Self, and it has been discussed as well by J.-B. Pontalis. The Self cannot be imagined other than as a support or principle of global activity underlying every living individual—as such, body and soul, the body inhabited by a soul, the Winnicottian dwelling. It would be an error, which some have fallen into, to think of the Self as a stage or a particular piece of the psychic apparatus, or even as a unit encircling the parts of the psychic apparatus. It is the psychic apparatus itself, rooted in an individual body and sharing the prerogatives of every individual to be endowed with a more or less large power of autoregulation. It is at the same time container, foundation, and limit.
Hence there reappears the inevitable problem of belief. To be oneself, a Self, is to adhere to life without any other fundamental motivation than to find oneself already taken in the movement of desire. Thus, it is to believe actively in life, in one's own life, even with regret, to believe in a life that one has not really —or rather, not at all—originally chosen, in a life to which one responds, nonetheless, and to which one cannot do anything else but respond until it ceases.
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Prelude to a Psychoanalytic Study of Belief. Jean Bergeret Pp. 877-896.
Bergeret discerns three areas of debate in which analysts must be involved in discussions of belief. The first is the dialogue that must develop between analysts around the relational and affective attitude found in individuals who adhere to a belief, whatever the content of that belief might be. For the analyst, such a debate would concern, especially and centrally, the affective functioning of the individual, and should be conducted along a program and methodology based on Freudian metapsychology and psychogenetic aspects, as these theories have been revised, filled out, and complemented in the course of the last several decades.
From this point of view, the analyst will have to be ready to confront issues and aspects that might appear delicate, but which lie at the heart of the complicated affective phenomena that link the individual to his or her belief. On the other hand, the analyst should not be an adventurer, imprudently dashing into areas that are not part of the analyst's expertise, nor allow the area of inquiry to move into some as-yet unsorted area within his or her own epistemological field—or, worse yet, to slip into value judgments beyond his or her area of expertise.
Second, the analyst might want to engage in discussions with the philosopher, theologian, anthropologist, historian, or sociologist specializing in the study of beliefs. Beliefs cannot be limited to purely religious activities or collective attitudes, but remain complex in nature. Hence, this second area of debate in which the analyst might engage is an inter and transdisciplinary one, involving specialists from these other fields, so that the discussion and inquiry about belief does not splinter, fragment, reduce, or deform an essentially multifactorial human phenomenon, one that often has nothing to do with our traditional conception of logic. Only a transdisciplinary, transcultural, and diachronic approach to belief can advance our critical knowledge of the stages and prefiguring moments of the psychogenesis of the roots of belief, moving from the most apparently simple, surprising,
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and irrational, to the ideological choices that claim to be the most rational, at least at the manifest level.
An interdisciplinary discussion on this primary interactional human reality that constitutes belief in all its forms is without doubt desirable, and in fact seems to be desired by all today, but it requires several preliminaries in order to become pertinent—preliminaries that run the risk of appearing, at first glance, contradictory. Each category of researchers must preserve its own disciplinary identity and communicate according to its own conceptual formulation. Furthermore, there must be a common and operational agreement on what constitutes belief, a term that is not understood in the same sense nor at the same level by these different categories of research workers.
A third area of discussion requires even more care. The analyst comes to such a study with his or her own history of beliefs, that is, an affective history and an intimacy with systems of belief or disbelief that are the analyst's own, formed from childhood onward. This area of discussion must avoid interference with the discussion at the two previous levels, though keeping such isolation will be very difficult and requires one to remain constantly vigilant and conscious of the difficulty.
Bergeret draws a distinction between belief and conviction, the latter beingsubject to question and modification. He gives a very brief review of Freud's comments on belief and conviction throughout his work, and indicates some difficulties and problems in Freud's conceptualizations. One point seems sufficiently important to stress here. Freud first described the relationship of an individual to his or her belief as composed of a distorted appreciation of materialreality that is aimed at defending psychic reality, and this view is indeed helpful in studying imaginary activities of the order of fantasy, dream, or delusion, and often the mode of thought of those who adhere to a belief as well. But Bergeret feels that the customary distinction between material and psychic reality may not be all that helpful here, and that it certainly does not permit a total comprehension of the phenomena in question. It does not take into account the relational aspect
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that induces this kind of mental operation. Such a conceptual lack appears all the more evident when we consider seduction or rumor, or even transference and countertransference.
Bergeret appeals to a hypothesis introduced by Jean Laplanche, termed interactional reality. This refers to a third order of reality, the reality of communication. This supplementary form of reality is neither a neoconstruction of personal imagination nor a simple adhesion to an external pressure or message. It implies a creative interaction of new affects and new representations in the imagination of the subject. The subject is neither the only one responsible nor the simple, passive receiver of the activities of his or her own thought. This is very close to positions that some sociologists and contemporary philosophers, and especially ethologists, have already defined by the term interactional epigenesis, to take into account the fashion in which the imagination of the child develops. This hypothesis that Laplanche proposed for a specific study of the intercommunication of the subject with the message of the Other seems like a very useful tool for the analyst who wishes to study belief by examining the efficacy of a sort of interactional reality that links the believer to that belief.
Finally, Bergeret considers the role of belief during psychoanalytic treatment. When he or she comes to analysis, the patient has the tendency, whether articulated or not, to reassure him or herself by an adherence—one that the patient supposes to be necessary—to a belief that he or she must passively credit a method and a therapist exterior to the self and endowed with magical powers. If the patient submits, he or she will have every chance to reach the longed-for equilibrium, according to the patient. The analyst might even be tempted to take refuge in adherence to this same form of belief. The risk is then of creating a particular form of interactional reality, of a transfero-countertransferential relation that sets up a trap experienced as advantageous by both parties on a narcissistic and anaclitic level.
This form of illusion in the liberating capacity of an interactional complicity on a narcissistic level will not help the patient on the way to objectality. Such a path taken by the treatment simply
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displaces the need of dependence on a belief previously manifest in the patient to another form of subjection. The patient cannot get out of this unless the analyst elaborates the sense of displacement and the repetition thus operative, instead of unwittingly participating in the proposed narcissistic seduction. Such participation would restrict the treatment to a technique now rather common among those who practice certain psychotherapies. Analysis is different, and does not involve enclosing oneself or the patient in a unique model of thought, whether of the Freudians or other systems.
The only objective criterion for a happy end to an analysis is the patient's obtaining the capacity to proceed in self-analysis, and it is the same with the analyst, who must also abandon a passive submission to beliefs that are too formal and too univocal, in order to evolve to a level of convictions that never cease to be subject to revision. For the patient to move from a strongly anaclitic belief to a conviction that is always reactivated and repersonalized implies an epistemological achievement that has nothing to do with adherence to a unique, rigid, and universal system of thought. On the contrary, the patient comes to respect the fashion in which each individual attempts to adapt his or her psychic reality, the heir of ancestral beliefs, to an exterior reality necessarily in perpetual movement and change.
The Humorist and His Belief. Jean-Luc Donnet Pp. 897-917.
Freud revisited the subject of humor in 1927, twenty-two years after his immense work on the subject in 1905. Why return to this topic after so long? An initial but superficial answer might be that the 1905 book was not specifically or sufficiently psychoanalytic. Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious was simply a prolongation of The Interpretation of Dreams. Though it also dealt with humor and the comic, its approach was consistently couched in terms of the topographical framework.
The brief but crucial article of 1927, by contrast, attempts a specifically psychoanalytic discussion on humor, but now with changes that are profoundly linked to the evolution of metapsychological concepts, with the displacement from the topographical
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hypothesis to the theory of the ego. Humor is defined as the contribution to the comic obtained through the mediation of the superego. The content of the study has as close a relationship to the structural hypothesis as the 1905 work had to the topological hypothesis. Wit cedes the foreground to humor and the repressed unconscious to unconscious identifications.
However, though the 1905 work was confident and affirmative, the 1927 article is marked with incertitude and ellipses. Even though advances in metapsychology permitted a new elaboration of humor, we would have to say that the complexity of humor puts to the test the expectations of metapsychology, draws out its contradictions, and underscores its ambiguities. Freud, at the end of the article, and as one of its consequences, states that there is still a great deal to learn about the superego. The smile of the superego is like that of La Gioconda, enigmatic and mysterious.
Donnet gives a dizzying résumé of some important themes of the 1905 work, themes that remain latent in the 1927 article and which serve to put the latter article in perspective and provide a deeper understanding of it. He then reviews the 1927 article and its illustration of a criminal on his way to the gallows on a Monday morning, who comments that the week is beginning nicely. The metapsychological problem for Freud is to explain how this defiance of reality is not a pathological phenomenon, even though it underscores the invincibility of the ego and affirms victoriously the triumph of the pleasureprinciple. The masterstroke in Freud's metapsychological elucidation of humor lies is the introduction of the superego and its role. This triumph of the ego and of the principle of pleasure was unthinkable in the metapsychological framework of 1905. The metapsychology of 1927 made this possible by taking into account the unconscious aspects of the ego, but it also involved a “new” pleasureprinciple, one that is more complex and embodies enjoyable tensions and painful discharges, and which is based on the binding and unbinding that make for a dynamic process. Freud claimed that he had “tentatively” advanced it in 1905 in the notion of roles of adult/child and big/ little themes in jokes. The humorist takes superiority from setting
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him or herself up in the role of the adult, and in the 1927 article, Freud asks how this is possible.
Freud's explanation involves two inseparable vectors. First, the displacement onto the superego modifies the perception of the internal world, with the aggrandizement of the superego and a minuscule ego, thus reflecting the comparison of big/little, adult/child; and, second, it modifies the apprehension of reality, because the superego becomes the ambiguous agent of a disavowal. The superego, thus hypercathected, rediscovers part of its origins in the parent who was, at one time, reality itself, while the threat that hangs over the ego is minimized, becoming unreal and infantile. “It's just a child's game, fit for a joke.” Freud rested there: “Humor [is] the contribution made to the comic through the agency of the superego.”
However, Freud's advance in this article still leaves us somewhat dissatisfied and uncertain as to the precise dynamic of the process. How do we move from a painful reality to a less intense, but exultant and subtle, enjoyment of humor? To attempt to go beyond Freud's hypothesis, we must take very seriously the last remarks of the article on the complexity of the superego: that there are many things we have yet to learn about it. For Freud, this hypercathexis of the superego opened up questions about the unknown aspects of the superego.
Freud puzzled about the consolatory aspect of the superego, which can at other times be so ferocious. While evoking the mother's voice, this consolatory solicitude derives from both paternal and maternal identifications. We must consider the complex diachronic structure of the superego, which extends from its maternal origin to its paternal essence. The postoedipal constitution of the two identifications is the structural sediment of this trajectory and its destiny, and humor must correspond to a (rare) success of the combination that Freud suggests. Humor requires bringing into play both the origin (maternal) and essence (paternal) of the superego.
We must also consider the belief and disbelief involved in the process of humor, the narcissistic exchange or barter by
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which its enjoyment is created. Humor aims at only a pure experience, that of a specific pleasure. Donnet suggests that the ego takes reality and makes it an occasion for enjoyment, not one of consolation but of invulnerability, defiance, and of triumph. The confidence of the humorist invokes the prehistoric situation of a time of symbiosis and of dyadic reciprocity, a time of the total power of the all-powerful, quasi-undifferentiated Other. The confidence of the humorist reflects the certainty of being loved unconditionally by the Other. Humor presupposes the convictions both that psychic reality is the source of pleasure and that the psyche has the capability of achieving this pleasure through excitations coming from within and without. The psyche encompasses not only the maternal character of the superego, but also the superego as an ultimate narcissistic source.
This certainty of being loved by the superego is also an indispensable condition to the conviction that the ego can now get along without the protection of the superego. The humorist effaces the narcissistic confirmation, rendering it transitory, and then detaches from and decathects the superego, just as the superego mediated the ego's earlier detachment from the primary objects. The ego tricks the superego into thinking the ego believes in its omnipotence, only to then show the utter impotence of the superego when faced with reality.
Donnet sketches a scenario that depends on crucial ambiguities in the functioning of the superego, involving a collusion between the most archaic and the most evolved levels of the superego, between its preobjectal anchor and the impersonal character appropriate to its postoedipal destiny. Humor knowingly uses these functional ambiguities of the superego, reactivating a paradoxical condensation of the prehistoric Other, as well as the impersonal, symbolic Other. The central intuition of Freud, according to Donnet, is that the process of humor consists in finding pleasure in the exercise of the principle of reality, and, in a way, in going beyond the reality principle by placing it—even painful reality—under the pleasureprinciple, the pleasure of thinking, of giving access to the freedom of thinking, and making it a source of new pleasure.
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Belief and the Hallucinatory Accomplishment of Desire. Gabrielle Rubin Pp. 919-926.
Belief implies doubt. “I believe that it's five o'clock,” has, tagging along with it, the implication that “I'm not sure.” It is as if the use of the verb to believe is a signal given by our interlocutor to arouse our suspicion and to make it understood that our response is subject to caution, as if the collective unconscious had admitted an incompatibility between belief and reality. The same holds true, Rubin argues, even for the totally affirmative responses of a religious type, such as “I believe in God,” or “I believe in communism,” or “I believe in Science.” These statements only appear to be affirmative; they have repressed doubt with the precise aim of totally denying it. This type of “I believe …” statement is a countercathexis. Questioning is forbidden, of oneself or of others. But knowledge, in contrast to belief presented as an affirmation, allows questions, allows doubt, and permits the search for proofs. Belief does not search for proofs; it is an absolute that is selfsufficient. Belief does not allow for evolution, since if a belief evolves, the old belief is dead. Finally, belief is subject to the pleasureprinciple, while knowledge is subject to the reality principle.
The differences between belief, illusion, and delusion are subtle because all three, in varying degrees, take little account of exterior reality, since they are subject to the domination of desire. In The Future of an Illusion, Freud defined what separated them: a delusion is essentially in contradiction with reality, while an illusion is not necessarily false, though more than likely improbable. In this work, he focused primarily on religious belief, but his research and his conclusions have many more general implications and can apply to all beliefs, whether religious, scientific, ideological, or personal.
Rubin suggests that the difference between belief, illusion, and delusion depends also on the social milieu. She believes (that is, offers an hypothesis to be verified) that what we call belief is an unproven idea that affects only a small part of the subject, even though it may be largely shared by contemporaries; while that which we call illusion is made up of ideas that appear very
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different from those dictated by common sense, but which guard, nevertheless, a possibility of realization (like the shepherdess who believes she will marry a prince). Delusions defy exterior reality and are refused by the social milieu and by common sense.
Belief, illusion, and delusion are all three creations of desire, but while the first two retain their links with exterior reality and the social milieu, the third abolishes links with reality. Rubin focuses on delusion under this aspect, because it is a pathological form of hallucinatory realization of desire, and thus offers an interesting light on the components of belief.
To illustrate the links between delusion and desire, but also their complicity with illusion and belief, she considers, as if they were clinical examples, two plays that deal with personal beliefs. These are pathological cases, but the mechanism of beliefs that are not pathological seems to her to be quite similar.
The author discusses Henry IV, a play of Pirandello's that concerns a nineteenth-century man who loves a lady disdainful of him. At a carnival, dressed in a costume of the eleventh century, the gentleman, disguised as the Emperor Henry IV of Germany, falls from his horse and reawakens believing himself to actually be Henry IV. To avoid aggravating his state, the family and friends enter into his delusion and present themselves disguised as personages of the eleventh century, representing friends and courtiers of the emperor. All then live an illusion, confirming the man's delusions. The fall from a horse rendered possible the mental illness, while the disguise gave form to the delusion. The deeper, unconscious reason for the delusion was the impossibility of satisfying the man's desire for his lady. Given the impossibility of realizing such desires, his unconscious utilizes these circumstances to accomplish them, thanks to madness. Pirandello constantly emphasizes the fluidity of the frontiers between reality, illusion, and delusion, and intricately intertwines the three possibilities. Each of the characters functions on three levels, that of exterior reality, of shared illusion, and internal reality or delusion.
In Molière's The Bourgeois Gentleman, M. Jourdain loves a lady he cannot have and wants to become a nobleman in order to
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win her. He is helped into illusion by a swindler, Dorante, who leads M. Jourdain into behaving as if he were a gentleman, with mad expenditures, and then, when it is declared to M. Jourdain that his father was actually a nobleman, M. Jourdain moves into the delusion that he is noble.
These two plays seem quite different, but they have profound similarities concerning the imperceptible slide from belief to illusion and then on to delusion. In a sort of strange mirror parallelism, Pirandello's play depicts a man who is recovering from madness, while Molière's presents a man who is going mad. The main character of each play has chosen madness in order to be able to realize his desire, even at the cost of reason. The Pirandello play is perceived as a drama and the Molière as buffoonery; the former moves us and makes us uneasy, while the character of M. Jourdain in the latter makes us laugh. And yet similar and unrealizable desires create the delusions in both.
Up to What Point Should One Disbelieve? Jacques Ascher and Daniel Weiss Pp. 927-939.
Belief enters into psychoanalysis in various ways, even in a pure state without reference to religious dogma. We hear such statements as “I believe in psychoanalysis” or “I don't believe in psychoanalysis.” What is the basic level of belief necessary for an analysis to take place? Is it necessary to believe in the unconscious for an analysis to be effective? Freud insisted on the conviction of the patient, something he considered absolutely necessary, especially with reference to the paternal transference. Ascher and Weiss suggest that the minimal belief for analysis to succeed is that something unknown is operative.
What becomes of belief in the unconscious during the course of treatment? Does it continue? Does one leave analysis as a more credulous person? This may be what working through of the transference is—a progressive (or perhaps regressive) movement, in the course of which the beliefs focused on the analyst are confronted with other, more archaic beliefs. The slow and sometimes painful work of new links between these calls into question
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the beliefs originating in another time. The belief in an unknown knowledge projected onto the person of the clinician permits bringing into question beliefs that are more and more archaic. Thus, a certain type of belief, set up by the transference, favors the work on these intimate, archaic beliefs by diminishing their power of fascination. This movement ends, finally, in a decathecting of the person of the analyst.
This leads to questions about the links between belief, suggestion, and transference, the propensity to place oneself in the supposed power of another. This linkage between hypnotic suggestion and analytic practice is never fully severed, and one must appeal to the notion of belief. Is there any basic difference between the desire to believe in a revelation, the fervent adherence to an ideological system of interpreting the world, and the propensity to attribute to an unknown person knowledge that concerns and escapes one? Can this attribution that characterizes the phenomenon of transference (in and out of analysis) rest on anything other than belief?
Freud did not consider belief itself formally and explicitly, though he nonetheless made frequent references to it. Yet even without explicit references, it is a subject crucial to Freud's thought, both clinically and theoretically. It was especially important in his discussion of the effects produced on an individual by the experience of sexual difference, in his article of 1925. Freud there distinguishes individuals into those who believe and those who know, according to their gender. There are thus three privileged moments: experience, knowledge, and belief.
The authors make use of a discussion by Octave Mannoni entitled “I Know, But Still….” This happy phrase of Mannoni is an interpretive finding that says a great deal more than its manifest content, and it is one in which everyone can recognize him or herself. As such, the phrase of Mannoni has entered into current psychoanalytic language. Belief, for Mannoni, consists in the service of a disavowal or denial (Verleugnung) of some knowledge imposed in a traumatic manner by experience. Whatever the experience, it is always ultimately castration—maternal castration.
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This was already cited in Freud's texts on fetishism and on splitting. It is the experience of maternal castration that opens a fault between knowledge and belief.
Mannoni's view is important because it makes evident that there can be no knowledge without belief; there can be no “I know very well,” without “but still …” This phenomenon is not located exclusively in the mode of the fetishist. It becomes intersubjective by depending on an Other to maintain this position of believing. The child believes in Father Christmas, supported by the parents and other children, while the parents, even though they themselves no longer believe in Santa Claus, continue to buy lottery tickets. Knowledge, “I know very well …,” and belief, “but still …,” are closely linked; even though they belong to distinct categories, they are inseparable.
The Future … Disillusion? Beliefs, Denials, and Splitting. Jean-Pierre Veuriot Pp. 955-963.
Psychoanalysts alone have to ask themselves whether a belief is the same as a delusion, for other psychotherapists and priests have long been able to tell the difference between a delusion with a religious theme and an affirmed faith, between what lies in their own area of expertise and when to call in medical experts. Even so, sometimes the certitude of therapists and priests may waver, especially around questions of reality. Which reality is relevant? The witnesses of apparitions, the beneficiaries of miracles, those carrying stigmata are all met with suspicion, and such individuals are hardly ever presumed innocent at first; it is a long road to beatification and canonization. Delusional people are not reasonable, but neither are those who claim miracles.
For believers, remaining in the domain of ideas can seem more realistic, thus making it possible to entertain immaculate conceptions and virgin mothers, to be part of a chosen people, to prepare oneself for a more radiant future. These are dreams, and dreams are not delusional, but dreaming without being asleep may not be rational. A belief, in contrast to a dream, is not felt as a foreign body in the conscious psychic life, but on the
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contrary, is perceived as an essential, constitutive part. Put in Kleinian terms, where there is an ego from the beginning, the splitting of the object is accompanied by a necessary splitting of the ego, with denial and idealizations forcing a resort to this splitting. In more nuanced Freudian terms, the introduction of the principle of reality leads to a form of thought activity characterized by splitting and by remaining independent of the proof of reality, uniquely subject to the pleasureprinciple.
Veuriot suggests that there is a sort of selective forgetting involved in belief. He proposes that we consider the degrees of denial, some mortal, some venial, that other writers have discussed. A venial denial may not compromise the self and its life in a drastic way, and may even eventually facilitate capacities and functions without curtailing or amputating them. This brings up the issue of a splitting of the ego and the form and nature of this splitting. In the case of belief, such splitting would seem to be obvious. As André Green comments, “scientists who go to mass are not the less scientific or the less believing. There are many believing analysts.” Though there would seem to be an irreconcilable difference between rational thought and religious belief, these two psychic currents can nonetheless coexist. They do not need to ignore each other; they are not contrary.
Beliefs of childhood, together with denials, are long established in the psychic life of human beings. Some writers have written of a “credulous impulse,” a sort of act of initial faith that leaves its trace on human functioning and human development. The beginnings of psychic life in hallucinatory form, in which there is hallucinatory satisfaction of desire accompanied by denial, contribute as well. The construction of reality and the differentiation between interior and exterior reality take time; they depend on the development of knowledge. The child thus believes his or her infantile sexual theories, which serve as scientific hypotheses that permit him or her to progress on the path to discovery and knowledge. There are many adult stories that the child puts up with, e.g., the stork, the cabbage, and the rose theory of births. But there are others, such as those of Santa
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Claus, Father Christmas, and St. Nicholas, that represent ancient customs, beliefs, and even pagan rites. The stories are incredible, but the incredible is necessary to every belief.
Learning the truth eventually adds insight to discovery, and the deception helps in developing distance from parental objects. The capacity for fantasy also permits us to tell ourselves stories, a very useful activity for future adults. Fairy tales have an important function to those who can permit themselves to engage in them. Belief and denial are part of the psychic life of the child, accompanying him or her on the path of sexual development and the recognition of differentiation from the object. They would seem to have a necessary function for an ego in the process of organization.
Religious belief develops after the decline of the Oedipus complex, at the time of cultural and scholastic apprenticeships, and in antagonism with the development of knowledge. This amounts to a preservation of narcissism, as in infantile sexual theories, but now on a collective level. Science makes much progress, but death remains unknown to the unconscious, and human existence seems unable to make a representation of death except in the form of rebirth, redemption, reincarnation, and the like. However, religions have permitted or have accompanied important cultural progress, and have thereby contributed to movement beyond primitive animism, avoiding recourse to substitute satisfactions that were not favorable to sublimation. In the face of evolutions brought about by progress, religions seem sometimes to develop almost phobic reactions, such as fundamentalism, fanaticism, and then violence.
Religion is a belief that is socialized and socializing: it differs fundamentally from the mysticism that Padrón Estarriol discussed. The mystical experience is intuitive, an individual illumination; it is an experience of fusion with a primaryobject, one that short-circuits priests, dogma, and ritual. Religion, on the other hand, is also a community of denial in mourning, a community that is never separated from the object through the beliefs it entertains: “I am always with you.”
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Finally, Veuriot considers the role of belief in the individual psychic economy. He sees in religion a more Winnicottian notion of illusion, one that is more supple, more creative, and more respectable. Religion is part of the cultural level that develops from potential space, an intermediate space of the child between self and nonself. His conclusion is that we cannot talk of religious belief on an individual plane or in terms of pathology. Rather, religion is an expression of the nature of man and the effects of his condition.