Freud and Faith

Living in the Tension

By Kirk A. Bingaman

Subjects: Pastoral Counseling
Paperback : 9780791456545, 180 pages, February 2003
Hardcover : 9780791456538, 180 pages, February 2003

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Table of contents


Foreword by Diane Jonte-Pace



Different Fields and Disciplines


1. Freud’s Interpretation of Religion


The Defining Moment of Development
Gender Asymmetry
The Need for Religion
Religion’s Primitive Beginnings


2. What Freud Can and Cannot Teach the Religious Believer


The "Text" of Consciousness
The "Text" of Religious Faith
Faith and Personal Transformation
The Limitations of a Freudian Interpretation


3. The Psychical Role of God


The Freud of Object Relations, the Oedipus Complex, and Family Relations
The Freud of Science, Intellect, and Reality
The Importance of Psychical Reality


4. The Relation Between Religious and Gender Psychology


Masculinity and the Reality Principle
Femininity and the Pleasure Principle
Femininity and Religious Faith


5. Beyond Either-Or: Toward a Constructive Reengagement with Freud


Methodological Strategies
Something Resembling Psychical Splitting?






Explores how religious believers can—and why they should—engage the work of Sigmund Freud, despite his well-known dismissal of faith.


Whether Sigmund Freud's theory precludes serious engagement with psychoanalytic theory for those professing faith in the God of the Judeo-Christian tradition has been controversial for years. Coming to terms with Freud's theory has proved difficult for religious believers because of his stance that religious faith is little more than psychological projection. Building on the work of philosopher and theologian Paul Ricoeur, psychoanalyst Ana-Maria Rizzuto, and feminist theorist Judith Van Herik, author Kirk A. Bingaman demonstrates that it is possible and even advantageous for believers to hold their religious faith in dialectical tension with psychoanalysis. Bingaman shows how Freud's critique of religion can enrich and strengthen, rather than destroy, the faith of the believer. What emerges from the author's argument is a creative method for living within the emotional and spiritual tension that develops whenever our belief system is challenged or disrupted.

Kirk A. Bingaman is Director of Satellite Offices for the Lloyd Center Pastoral Counseling Service, an Adjunct Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling at San Francisco Theological Seminary, and an ordained Presbyterian minister.