AS Religious studies - Freud

Just some key points i suppose... AQA exam board

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  • Created on: 19-04-11 19:39
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SIGMUND FREUD (1856-1939)
He argued that religion is an illusion.
Influenced by catholic nanny who believed firmly in heaven and hell; reward and
Encountered Anti-Semitism which made him feel like an outsider
Studied medicine and it was well known among this profession that that we are not
given a soul by a Creator with ultimate purpose and destiny. Instead, everything can be
reduced to the physical.
Freud made such an impact because he was the first to look at the human psyche and the
unconscious as well as conscious mental processes. He believed there are 3 layers to the
human mind.
To begin with, Freud believes that religion starts in the mind to help us overcome:
Inner psychological conflict (religion being seen as a collective neurosis)
The conflict between our natures and civilisation
Helplessness and fear of natural forces
Freud says that the construction and development of the mind leads to deep conflict of a
sexual nature. The minds solution is to lock it away ­ which isn't successful and the trauma
re-emerges later in the form of religion. The god people worship is in fact like a father figure
who may of been involved in the sexual conflict.
Freud studied patients suffering from hysteria and found links between their behaviour and that
of people who were religious. For example, that both involve highly specific ritual behaviour i.e.
some acts result in severe guilt if not completed.

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The work of various naturalists and anthropologists gave Freud the idea that in primitive human
society there was hordes. Here there would be dominant males who have first pick of the
breeding females. Younger male members of the horde become resentful and develop
ambivalent attitudes towards their fathers- eventually they plot to kill him. After his death, they
idolise the father figure ­ setting him up as a totem as a way to deal with the guilt.…read more


jooles 2005

useful revision  notes

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