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Freud, Sigmund (1856–1939)

Sigmund Freud was the founder of psychoanalysis, one of the great theoretical contributions to 20th-century Western modernity. Psychoanalysis is simultaneously a theory of mind and of psycho-pathology, a therapeutic method, and a theory of culture. In his works on culture, Freud wrote extensively about religion, but situating Freud within the context of global religion reveals certain contradictions. First, many of Freud's writings are harshly critical of religion. Second, Freud's work, often seen in the tradition of Enlightenment thought, propounds a universal theory of the psyche that implies psychological commonalities across cultures; yet it was conceived in the shadow of European imperialism and, like other disciplines that emerged at around the same time, can be seen to bear the marks of Western ethnocentrism. Nonetheless, both Western ...

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