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Salient: Victoria University Students' Newspaper. Vol. 24, No. 8. 1961.

Professor Doherty Speaks

Professor Doherty Speaks

Recently an address was given by the Rev. Professor E. F. O'Doherty on the subject of religion and psychology. Fr. O'Doherty opened his address by stating that there have been many misunderstandings on both sides between psychology and theology. (For example: the medieval confusion of mental illness with demoniac possession). In more modern times, there is the confusion of religion with neurosis.

The implication that religion is a form of neurosis was a thesis of Freud's. It is based on the evidence that a sense of guilt and dependence, are usually common to both religion and neurosis. Contrary to this the famous psychologist Jung has claimed that religion is actually necessary for mental health.

Professor O'Doherty claimed that Freud had made a logical fallacy of "psycho-mechanistic parallelism." That is—that concurrent similar patterns of behavior imply identical thought processes as their source.

As Freud claimed, taboos, rituals, and irrational processes do protect man from childhood anxiety. These instinctive qualities do not "explain" religion but are elevated by religion to the rational and spiritual level. Taboos are irrational but moral precepts are based on a rational judgment. Mating is instinctive behavior but the sacrament of matrimony elevates it to a rational and spiritual level.

—P.J.R.