Therapeutic Heresy or Emotional Salvation? American Catholic Interpretations of Psychoanalysis During and After World War II
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During and after World War II, American Catholic intellectuals were fascinated by psychoanalysis. Addressing many of the same concerns as their theology – the nature of free will, the origins and effects of sin and guilt, and the powers of evil and love -- the theories represented a potential danger to their faith. Freud’s assertions that religion was an obsession-neurosis or that Christ symbolized the return of the repressed were hurdles to Catholics who hoped to engage his theories. Closer attention to the relationship that developed between psychoanalysis and Catholicism can illuminate the ways that Catholics came to represent themselves and also the ways that Catholics influenced the realms of medicine, psychology, and popular spiritual culture. American Catholics found in psychoanalysis an opening through which to sacralize the fields of psychology and psychiatry that seemed, to them, to be increasingly routinized and dehumanizing.|Keywords: Catholics, psychoanalysis, twentieth century, American religious history, psychology and culture
Rabbi Myer and Dorothy Kripke Center, Creighton University
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