Religion and psychoanalysis make a volatile mix. Like bleach and ammonia, the combination can leave people gasping in irritation. I’m not interested in activating a burning sensation. I only want to apply some salve to blistering boils of unreason.
Are we strong enough emotionally to consider the application of some rationality, or have we become hopelessly defensive and hypersensitive?
As a psychotherapist, I’m here as a healer, not a critic. I see that fundamentalists of different religions are influenced by unconscious psychological characteristics that impede their objectivity. Psychology believes that our awareness, intelligence, and wisdom can all be enhanced through self-knowledge. This post explores some of that knowledge for the purpose of helping us all, not just fundamentalists, move toward the light.
Fundamentalists of different religions also have a big impact as voting blocs in democratic elections, so an exploration of the underlying issues that frame their political outlook is fair game for civil, intelligent discussion. In this post, I mostly narrow my discussion to Christian fundamentalists. (Of course, fundamentalism isn’t restricted solely to religious beliefs. Secularists, too, can be dogmatic, and they sometimes react with anger or malice when their pet theories or cherished beliefs are challenged.)
Writers and thinkers have identified four basic aspects of Christian fundamentalism. These big words—literalism, conversion, evangelism, and apocalypticism—will be whittled down to size. While reading about them, watch for evidence of inner fear and passivity lurking in the background. To begin: [Read more…]