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Rizzuto, A. (1998). Psychoanalytic Studies of Religion: A Critical Assessment and Annotated Bibliography by Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996, xv + 188 pp., $69.50. Psa. Books, 9(2):246-249.

(1998). Psychoanalytic Books, 9(2):246-249

Psychoanalytic Studies of Religion: A Critical Assessment and Annotated Bibliography by Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996, xv + 188 pp., $69.50

Review by:
Ana-María Rizzuto, M.D.

Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, a professor of psychology at the University of Haifa, Israel, attempts in this book “to offer the first critical guide to the essential literature reflecting and expressing psychoanalytic approaches to religion” (p. xiii). It focuses exclusively on works continuing and extending the Freudian tradition. Other analytic schools, such as Jungian analysis, existential analysis, “depth psychology,” and other split-off movements are not included. Excluded also are any papers or books based on psychoanalytic principles and theories but oriented toward religious apologetics or pastoral counseling. The author limits the bibliographical review to works printed in English.

Beit-Hallahmi presents a subjectively critical assessment of each work in relation to its contribution, or lack of it, to a progressive understanding of a psychoanalytic theory of religion, religious behaviors, and the analytic theoretical foundations that support such an understanding.

The author clearly defines his goal: “This book is intended to be a working tool, and its intended audience is scholars and students in the field of psychoanalysis, psychology, sociology, anthropology, history, literature, folklore, and religion” (p. xiv).

The first part of the book is a critical assessment of the overall contributions of psychoanalysis to the study of religion. After a brief description of the major tenets of classical psychoanalysis and later Freudian schools, the author concludes that “despite all critiques and criticism, there is no substitute and no theoretical alternative to psychoanalysis as the most, and the only, comprehensive theoretical approach to the psychology of religion” (p.

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