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Toward Mutual Recognition: Relational Psychoanalysis and the Christian Narrative

Chaudhari, Pia

Theology and psychoanalytic theory have often been framed as living at odds with each other. Psychoanalytic and depth psychological schools have been accused of dismissing God as illusion, or reducing God to an impulse within the psyche, or even a non-determined 'experience' which has no grounding and hence no verification in orthodox faith traditions. On the theological side, the accusations received have ranged from that of God being a projection of infantile omnipotence, carrier of a sadistic super-ego projection as a result of unresolved Oedipal complexes, and famously, as promoting an illusion which gives shelter from the harsh reality with which we must reckon if we are to become fully adult (Freud).

Yet, often quietly and sometimes in the shadows, there have been theorists who have pondered their own clinical experiences and the possibilities for encountering what some might call God, others some kind of reality with a capital 'R,' witnessed therein. While traditional religious language has often been avoided, the presence of some sort of Reality meriting recognition has seeped through, showing up in theories such as Bion’s, 'O,' Symington’s understanding of conscience, or Rizzuto’s considering the possibility of the silent presence of an apophatic God in communion with Winnicott’s ‘incommunicable’ core at the center of the self.


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Union Seminary Quarterly Review

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Union Theological Seminary
Published Here
September 15, 2015