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Shike, C.W. (1971-72). A Dynamic Psychology of Religion. Paul W. Pruyser. New York: Harper and Row, 1968. 367. Psychoanal. Rev., 58(4):645-646.

(1971-72). Psychoanalytic Review, 58(4):645-646

A Dynamic Psychology of Religion. Paul W. Pruyser. New York: Harper and Row, 1968. 367

Review by:
Charles Wesley Shike

Pruyser points out that the development of religion parallels the development of the person in its growth from nonverbal signs to verbal symbols in language and behavior. He also documents the growth from primary symbolization to cognitive explication of ideas and experiences in case studies and in theological ideas. These points are provocative not only because of the author's scholarship which makes use of academic psychology, ego psychology, learning theory, psychological testing and social psychology, but also because of his serious acceptance of Freud's theory of religion as a projection of infantile wishes.

Pruyser sees the dynamics of religion as including all of the well known defenses of denial, projection, rationalization, reaction formation, etc., and in addition renders a convincing argument for a post-pregenital view of many functions of religion that serve to draw the person from narcissism into rational thought, ego control and growth.

The chapter on Emotion develops an interesting description of affects as being negative and positive in Schachtel's sense of “activity affects” (positive) and embeddedness affects (negative). Pruyser uses the concept of “hope” in order to convey a positive use of a religious category.

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