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Rizzuto, A. (2002). Believing and Personal and Religious Beliefs: Psychoanalytic Considerations. Psychoanal. Contemp. Thought, 25(4):433-463.

(2002). Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought, 25(4):433-463

Believing and Personal and Religious Beliefs: Psychoanalytic Considerations

Ana-María Rizzuto, M.D.

The modular organization of the human brain has now been well established.… What is clear is that they [modules] operate largely outside the realm of awareness and announce their computational products to various executive systems that result in behavior or cognitive states. Catching up with all this parallel and constant activity seems to be a function of the left hemisphere's interpreter module. The interpreter is the system of primary importance to the human brain. It is what allows for the formation of beliefs, which in turn are mental constructs that free us from simply responding to stimulus-response aspects of everyday life. In many ways it is the system that provides the story line for the narrative of our lives. Yet, it would not appear to be the system that provides the heat, the stuff, the feelings about our thoughts

[Gazzaniga, 1995, p. 1394].

Believing is an essential psychic function and activity which sustains processes as diverse as the structures of perception and

unconscious mentation. Beliefs result from the interpretive activity of the individual self carrying out those processes. Some of the beliefs are structural and therefore nonconscious and incapable of becoming conscious. Other beliefs are unconscious and susceptible of becoming conscious under specific conditions. Finally, many beliefs are conscious and are experienced cognitively and emotionally as part of being oneself, an aspect of one's identity. Personal beliefs are constructed from experiences of physical and emotional satisfaction during the commerce with caretakers early in life, and emotionally significant objects after that period of development. Relational events continuously contribute to the reaffirmation or transformation of beliefs. Personal beliefs emerge from the intrapsychic, dynamically organized interpretation of somatic experiences of satisfaction of bodily needs and affective and social exchanges with others as well as from fantasies, defenses, wishes, or traumatic circumstances that enlarge the richness of the relational moment. Shared personal, social, group, and religious beliefs exist and are formed in the societal matrix of cultural constructions of reality, linguistic organization of discourse, and mythological and official religions' narratives, as well as doctrinal conceptions of religious truth.

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