Monday, January 5, 2009

Freud and the Future of an Illusion


Freud described religion as an illusion and explained in The Future of an Illusion (1927) that “what is characteristic of illusions is that they are derived from human wishes.” Gods are created by human beings, and then accepted by other human beings, because human beings wish them to exist. What can you say to someone about his illusions when they represent something he desperately wishes to be true? You can say exactly what you might say to a writer who would like his novel to be done without him having to write and revise it or to a short, slow, uncoordinated man who would like to play center for his local basketball team: “Wishing won’t make it so.” If we keep saying, “Wishing won’t make it so,” we may at least reach those on the edges of belief who are able to distinguish fantasy from reality.

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