REVISITING JUNG’S PSYCHOLOGY OF RELIGION-in the light of the relational turn and the resurgence of religion in organised forms


The overall aim of this thesis is to revisit Jung’s psychology of religion in the light of observations in a clinical case and developments in culture and psychology regarding the relational turn and the resurgence of religion reflected in the clinical case. The method chosen is the psychoanalytic research circle: on the basis of the clinical material, research aims are provided and thereafter theoretically substantiated.

The analytical process demonstrated a three-phased structure consisting of dissolution, reintegration and a middle phase of ‘liminality’. In this phase, both numinous symbols and symbols from organised religion occurred. The numinosity of the first kind of symbol was seemingly more related to the transformation of the early-formed structures of a relational character than to archetypes, and the first research aim is to argue for this. The organised symbols seemingly functioned as containers in this phase of transformation. The second research aim is to argue that symbols from organised religion, because of their fixed and non-personal character, may function as temporary substitutes in the liminality phase while the individually-informed symbols change. The organised symbols seem to be individually and consciously chosen from among the repository of organised religion; as such, they are not spontaneous productions from the unconscious. As not all religious symbols seem suitable to contain transformation of such a fundamental character, a third aim is to establish a tool for evaluating religious experiences on the basis of a working definition of religion that includes more aspects (institution – experience – existence) than Jung’s definition of religion as an experience of the numinous.

All three aims offer additional perspectives on Jung’s psychology of religion, which is not adequately described in the existing literature on Jungian psychology. Thus, this thesis seeks to contribute to the redressing of this lacuna on a theoretical basis.