Freud and Religion
1. Freud's study was full of sacred objects from ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome and the Far East.
Pick three objects or pictures in the museum associated with three different religions.
Which one is your favourite?
2. Make a list of three things in Freud's house that are not religious objects.
Where did you find these objects?
Are you sure that these objects are not religious? Think of a way they could become religious.
3. Look at the Egyptian funerary boat in the cabinet in Freud's study.
Why should a boat be a religious object?
4. "I believe that a large part of the mythological view of the world, which extends a long way into the most modern religions, is nothing but psychology projected into the external world." (The Psychopathology of Everyday Life 1901)
Many religions posit a cosmology with three separate realms of existence: earth, heaven, and hell.
How would Freud have thought about these ideas from a psychological point of view?
What would they tell him about the structure and contents of the mind?
5. Split the class into groups. Imagine that each group was a different tribe, named after a specific god. Make up a name for your tribe.
6. Make up a story about the god of your tribe, using some of the objects in the museum as part of the story.
What social and psychological functions does the story perform for your group?
7. How many pictures of Freud himself are there in the museum?
Do you think Freud saw himself as a god?
8. Imagine that you are a psychoanalyst and someone comes to you with an obsessional ritual.
What is the ritual?
How does it help the person gain control over themselves and the outside world
9. Freud said that a belief in God (or gods) could help bind a community together.
Do you think Freud acted like a god in his own household?
What were the 'community tensions' in the Freud household that were resolved (or not)?
Find something in the museum that supports your answer.
10. How can the following social activities be compared to religious rituals or worship?
(a) Shopping at a department store or mall
(b) Going to a football match
(3) Visiting the Freud Museum
An earth-touching Buddha from Freud's collection