Re-reading Freud’s View of Religion in the Image of the Father-God and Feminist Implications


Hong, Riwha

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My principal concern in this study is to examine the Freudian theory of religion more carefully and to look at it deeply, in particular, in terms of the Father-God image for Freud from the feminist perspective. Sigmund Freud’s work has been clearly controversial since its beginning, in particular, with regard to his views on femininity. This critical attitude toward Freud has been adopted by feminists also in terms of religion. I suggest the reexamination and reevaluation of Freud’s view of religion in the image of the Father-God, and of its relations to feminist concerns, in terms of the Freudian analysis of patriarchal religion in the Jewish-Christian traditions. Many feminists have often referred to Freud’s misogyny and have criticized it when they encounter the androcentric assumptions in the psychoanalytic theory of religion. I offer, yet, that Freud’s critique of religion is not much different from feminist concerns in that both may focus on the patriarchal and oppressive structure of the Jewish-Christian religions in the image of the Father-God. According to Judith Van Herik, Freud’s misogynist theory of gender grounds his critique of religion and his theory of gender are placed on paternal etiology within a patricentric and patriarchal mental world. For Freud, attachment to the father and femininity, and then religion are correlative; the feminine relationship to the father is like that of the naïve believer in the Father-God. Freud understands his view of gender asymmetry in terms of a male-centered hierarchical and oppressive society and religion, although the misogyny in Freud’s psychology of women is criticized by feminists. This attempt to link the Freudian view of religion in the image of the Father-God and feminist concerns may offer a helpful way to understand more deeply, especially psychologically, both Freud’s theory of gender and religion, and feminist issues in religion.


I. Introduction
II. Freud’s View of Religion in the Image of the Father-God
1. Illusion
2. Compulsive Neurosis
3. Oedipal Phenomenon
III. Feminist Implications in Women and Religion from the Freudian Perspective
IV. The Relations between the Two Arguments
V. Conclusion


  • Hong, Riwha Korea Christian University


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