This book presents selections from Freud’s writings on religion and from the work of five more recent contributors to the psychoanalytic study of religion: David Bakan, Erik H. Erikson, Heinz Kohut, Julia Kristeva, and D.W. Winnicott. It is the first collection of texts in the psychology of religion that is oriented more toward religious studies than toward the study of psychology.
In his introduction, Donald Capps points out that psychoanalysis resembles religions in the way in which its founding documents (Freud’s own writings) have been closely read, have evoked interpretive battles, and have been reassessed and reapplied in response to changing social and cultural circumstances. He notes that just as Freud’s writings on religion focus on the biblical text, the majority of the authors included here do likewise, showing how the Bible may be read psychoanalytically. Both Freud and his successors, says Capps, also reflect the high value that the Christian culture of the West has placed on painting and sculpture, revealing the importance of perception and imagination to the psychoanalytic study of religion. Capps highlights the ways in which all the Freudians work intertextually with Freud’s writings, with the writings of other authors included in the book, and with other writings of their own.