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Carl Jung on Freud and Religion

Letters Volume I

To Andrew R. Eickhoff

Dear Mr. Eickhoff, 7 May 1956

Thank you very much for sending your interesting MS about Freud and Religion.

The historical fact is that Freud’s attitude towards religion in any form was a negative one, quite apart from the fact that he himself said so in his paper about this subject.

Religious belief to him was indeed an illusion.

Whether this illusion is due to objective scientific argument or to personal bias does not matter when it comes to the question of actual facts.

His negative attitude was one among a number of other points of litigation between us.

No matter whether it was a Jewish or a Christian or any other belief, he was unable to admit anything beyond the horizon of his scientific materialism.

I was most unsuccessful in my attempts to make him see that his standpoint was unscientifically prejudiced and his idea of religion was a foregone conclusion.

In our many talks about this and similar subjects he more than once quoted Voltaire’s ‘\􀦴crasez l’infame! “and even went so far as to say that his doctrine
of sexual repression as the ultimate reason for all such foolish ideas as f.i. religion, should be counterweighted by making a dogma of his sex theory.

Naturally he assumed that my more positive ideas about religion and its importance for our psychological life were nothing but an outcrop of my unrealized resistances against my clergyman father, whereas in reality my problem and my personal prejudice were never centred in my father but most emphatically in my mother.

As you will doubtless have realized from the perusal of Freud’s works, his
father-complex sticks out everywhere, while the equally important mother-complex plays the most insignificant role.

You might hold that, following the bias of my mother-complex, I have overrated the importance of religion-a criticism which I have considered seriously.

In the case of a psychologist I don’t consider it a particularly excusable mistake to allow personal bias to overrule one’s own judgment.

I have tried therefore, at least as well as I could, not to overlook the fact that my mother-complex might play me a trick, but if you should raise the point, I am sure you would find a willing ear to listen to your opinion.

I have always wondered how it comes that just the theologians are often so particularly fond of the Freudian theory, as one could hardly find anything more hostile to their alleged beliefs.

This curious fact has given me much stuff for thinking.

Sincerely yours,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 295-296.