Religion As A Collective Neurosis
Neurotic Compulsions –
To be performed exactly
Calm when completed
Anxiety if omitted or “not
done right”
Religious Rituals–
To be performed exactly
Calm when completed
Anxiety if omitted or “not
done right”
Neurosis and Religion
• Freud draws a comparison between religious
rituals and neurotic compulsions
• He points out that both are repeated, to be
performed exactly, the person feels calm
when they are completed and anxiety if they
are not done
Religion As A Collective Neurosis
• The similarities between neurotic compulsions
and religious rituals leads Freud to the
conclusion that religious ritual behaviour is an
example of obsessive compulsive behaviour
• However, because they provide a shared or
common neurosis they are accepted by
What A Collective Neurosis Does
• Freud claims that religion protects us from
developing individual neuroses which may not
be accepted by society
• Religion and neurosis can also be linked through
repressed guilt
• The obsessional neurotic normally has a sense of
guilt that motivates their actions (Freud says is
usually to do with some sort of sexual repression)
• The religious believer also feels guilt if they have
done something God would not approve of and it
is usually at this time they carry out a religious
ritual (e.g. prayer)
Freud on Religion
• So Freud sees religion as destructive and negative
• It is something dangerous that society needs to
be free from
• It links back to an infantile state when we were
weak and helpless and in need of protection and
this is why as adults we create a father figure
which we call God
Freud Concept Map
• Complete a concept map with Freud on Religion
in the centre including all of the following
Oedipus and the King
Oedipus Complex
Wish Fulfilment
–Totem and Taboo
–Primal Horde