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Freud regarded religious beliefs as ‘illusions, fulfilments of the oldest, strongest, and most insistent wishes of mankind.’ Therefore Freud said it is ‘wish fulfilment' - religion is human desire creating an illusion to help overcome inner psychological conflict; stress which comes from the structure of society and fear of the dangers of the natural world. This isn’t to say that God does not exist, but that his main function is to answer inner needs.
Describing religion as a ‘neurotic illness’ Freud believed that it stemmed from the unconscious mind. Freud noted that religious rites were repetitive, symbolic and connected with guilt, and that religion is ‘a return of the repressed.’ Freud believed that daughters are sexually attracted to their fathers, and that those feelings need to be repressed. Turning to religion helps to suppress the guilt felt for having these sexual desires. Fathers are there to protect their child, and when that child grows up, they seek protection from elsewhere, thus turning to God. Religion is consequently a ‘universal obsessional neurosis.’ A young boy which desires to stay close to his mother, perceives his father as a threat, this is known as the Oedipus Complex.
Supporting the Oedipus Complex, Freud used the Primal Horde design, believing that the male offspring grow resentful of the father and rise up against him to kill him. After killing the father, this would result in undecided feelings towards him, resulting in the father then being idolised, the totem of the group. Freud thought that there was some kind of psychological mechanism whereby the guilt will be passed onto offspring through genetics. The father transforming into the totem figure holds significance to the belief of the Christian God, e.g Christians during communion remember Jesus being killed and so they eat in commemoration of his sacrifice. Freud uses this to explain that religion is an illusion created to accept powerful and sexual emotion.
Religion being an illusion is meant to help society, whilst society being in conflict with our basic desires, religion is essential in giving us a reason to submit to laws. The belief that there is an eternal beautiful afterlife makes it bearable to submit to a world of chaos and suffering. The illusion helps us overcome the fears of nature. As a result Freud believed that religious beliefs are used as a means to oppress people and permit their sin, e.g repenting sin allows for them to be sinful. To conclude his argument, Freud illustrates that there is no factual evidence for the existence of God, and that it is just a part of the mind.
Jung disagreed with Freud with regard to religion and sex. Jung believed that we are all born with the tendency to consider similar images, the concept of God being one of these, thus believing that these images come from the ‘collective unconscious’ mind. The part of the brain which formulates this images was named ‘archetype.’ Jung said that God is an ‘absolutely necessary psychological reality,’ God is real to those who experience the archetype, it is a part of human personality. The process of ‘becoming oneself’ is known as individuation, Jung believed this was the religious process. ‘The symbols of divinity coincide with those of the self.’ Therefore Jung says that to reject religion you are rejecting yourself, you are not complete until individuation occurs.
Image credits: http://www.freud-museum.at/en/