Custom «Psychological Approach to Religion» Essay Paper Sample

Psychological Approach to Religion

Religion is a very controversial topic and it attracts many different fields to discuss and define what it is. There are many different approaches on how to study religion. One of these is the psychological approach which is basically studying religion using psychological ideas and concepts. The psychological study of religion was believed to be pioneered by US psychologist and philosopher William James (Nielsen, 1994). He conceptualized and differentiated institutional religion and personal religion. Institutional religion is the group or organization that influences most of the society. Personal religion is the personal belief in something mystical.

Other scholars proposed their psychological approaches to religion. These are: Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Abraham Maslow, and Alfred Adler. Their works and ideas created a significant understanding and new knowledge towards the study of religion. To explain briefly, Freud suggested that religion is a resulting relationship of a child to a father. This explains that in many religion and cultures, god is viewed as a heavenly father. Furthermore, it implies that religion is an attempt to fulfill a person's wishes and it is an illusion. Another scholar, Jung explained that religion has got something to do with conscious and unconscious forces of the mind. He said that in a person's unconscious mind, there are ideas and virtues that are shared by humanity. These ideas may form an image of something like a god. On the other hand, Maslow explained religion as a transpersonal psychology which deals with spiritual well-being of individuals. Lastly, Adler explained that religion rooted from the idea that people want to compensate their inferiorities and through their belief in a superpower like a god, they can compensate for such feelings. These theories and definitions are very important in the way religion impact people. Understanding and having knowledge of different approaches to religion is very important for people to know and appreciate the different views towards their beliefs.

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