Freud and Faith

200px-Sigmund_Freud_LIFEI did something this week that I’ve always wanted to do. I picked up a book and started reading Freud. Now many people have chosen to disregard Freud, because he rejects the scientific method and talks openly about taboo topics.

I believe though that Freud peaked exactly in his time. There is rich symbolism in Freud’s theory, which people cannot understand until they pursue some real depth of thought.

I wonder about the interaction between Freudian psychology and religion. I am not talking about whether Freud had a religious conviction himself, but the more salient role of symbolism driven by religion in his time.

Carl Jung as a lecturer referred to Christian teachings during his elaboration of certain psychoanalytic concepts. Indeed, due to increased engagement with religion, and the symbolism found in the biblical account, the church of England, and of course the growing field of philosophy, I believe people understood (at least if they wished to) what Freud was trying to do.

And the theme of digging into your past and looking for repressed issues is prevalent in all sorts of program today that hold high repute. Alcoholics Anonymous invite their attendee’s to make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves’. It helps people delve into their subconscious, understand themselves and find closure to past experiences.

I’m going to go into some very unscientific territory here. If certain therapy does or has involved seeking a connection with God, then surely the success of that therapy depends on whether that faith is true. Since the nature of faith is that it is placing confidence in something without empirical evidence, science will never establish cause and effect. But if there were a spiritual principle at play, those who embrace it would surely find success in the treatment.

Freudian theory was devised in a time of more religious excitement than we find today. Psychoanalysis has strayed away from that, in order to seek to acquire more scientific reputate. But if the religious principle were true then the therapy would have greater use for those engaged in practising those principles.

I believe there is some worth of Freudian theory. Is it empirical? No. Is it even in anyway medical? Not really either. But they are interesting.