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Psychology and Religion, week 2

by: Elyse Villanueva

Psychology and Religion, week 2 Psych 80A

Elyse Villanueva

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About this Document

These notes cover the antagonistic view of religion from Freud and Skinner. They cover theories of the origin of religion and why it was formed.
Psych and Religion
Class Notes
religion, Psychology, Freud, B. F. Skinner
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Elyse Villanueva on Friday October 7, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Psych 80A at University of California - Santa Cruz taught by Quinn in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 12 views. For similar materials see Psych and Religion in Social Science at University of California - Santa Cruz.

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Date Created: 10/07/16
October 4 ­religion has become a curiosity or even quaint superstition...hard to talk about in certain circles ­How did religion move from being central to society to being rarely talked about? ­science has played a huge role in the decline of religion ­exploration of an antagonistic view of religion ­Freud’s argument is from an existentialist point of view: we must accept our basic aloneness in  this existence ­we are just thrown into this world and we are responsible for what we do for our existence ­Freud says there is no grand scheme or higher power ­Consolation of the religious illusion: without that consolation that we have to confess we are no  longer the center of attention or the object of tender care of a higher power. ­we will be in the same position as a child who has left home where they were once so warm  and comfortable ­Isn’t is a destiny of a child to be overcome? We cannot remain children forever ­we must venture into the hostile world, into reality. ­It is difficult to find your way, one feels helplessness ­existence holds sorrow, inequalities, calamities, and death ­religion’s place in overall development of mankind is comparable only to childhood obsessive  neuroses (CON)  ­Freud wants us to overcome these neurotic tendencies ­CON: neurotic rituals children have in order to overcome anxiety. Ex: not stepping on a crack or having a favorite number or knocking on your favorite tree three times to have a good day. ­obsessional neurosis is part of the anxiety disorders ­for freud religion is a way that we develop to control the existential anxiety associated with  childhood and later adult helplessness ­a ritualized response to helplessness that the world gives us ­primal existential society is a core fact in a need to create the religious illusion ­ a rich store of ideas is formed,the need to make the world tolerable, the helplessness of  mankind ­our terrors of life are obliterated by the illusion of religion ­the religious wish fulfillment­ freud wants us to relinquish this ­so we can learn to stand alone ­helps us see reality clearly without the sweet veil of religion ­opiate of the masses ­if religion is nothing but wishful thinking(illusion) then we are better off facing life, even if that  means living with fear and anxiety. ­1) we are essentially helpless in the face of the enormity and unpredictability of life( especially  as children) 2) This essential helplessness gives rise to an overpowering anxiety exactly like  childhood obsessional neurosis. 3) Just like CON we create a compulsive ritualized practice to  relieve the anxiety. The mechanism of the wish fulfillment is an illusion of a divine being to  watch over us. ­ID: primitive instinctual selves, aggression and sex. ­Ego: tries to steer ID ­Superego: morals ­concerning our infantile helplessness ­The libido follows the path of narcissistic needs(in infant)  ­all children are narcissistic ­the libido attaches itself to that which assures its satisfaction ­(male perspective) the mother satisfies our hunger, she is our first love object and therefore  satisfies our libido, she is our protection. ­the mother is soon replaced by the bigger, stronger father. We transfer our need for protection  to the father ­the relation to the father is affected by a peculiar ambivalence. The dad is a danger because  earlier feelings for mom. (oedipus complex) ­the father is feared no less than he is longed for ­the indications of the ambivalence is imported in all religions ­around 3 or 4, it can show jealousy and rivalry ­the primary rival is father, but father is also ultimate protector ­people desire God as a father to protect us ­repressed feelings because oedipal feelings are too much and we project the oedipal out onto  the heavens and create Gods. ­ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny: the study of the history of the development of any individual  of a species will summarize the development of the entire species that the individual belongs ­in the embryo in the early stages they form gills but then disappear in later formation which  might summarize our human development as a species ­this is also how freud sees development of religion ­our individual ambivalences of our individual dads was played out at the beginning with  interactions of the primogenitor ( first father ) ­human beings originally lived in packs ­freud and darwin believed that originally in packs women were under the dominance of men. ­the primo has seized women for himself, his sons are rivals ­one day the sons came together to overwhelm, kill, and eat the primo. ­he was the enemy but also the ideal ­after the deed they were now eachothers rivals. ­the totem meal still survives in the form of communion ­the sons had original sin/ guilt from killing primo ­communion= body of God/father/primo October 6 ­world views: magic vs common sense ­magic view of the world is equivalent to childishness (Freud view) ­Freudian POV: Science gives us results and religion is based off history ­Scientific method: for it to be considered knowledge, it must be proven objectively. It works best if it is controlled and reduced to numbers (experiments). ­Psychology is dominated by scientific method ­B.F. Skinner is one of the founders of behaviorism ­Explanatory fictions:terms used by non behaviorists to describe the causes of human behavior  when unaware of the causes (ex: willpower and free will) ­we are influenced by forces outside ourselves ­The hypothesis that we are not free is essential to the application of scientific method of human behavior. ­all of causes of human behavior lie outside of the individual\­autonomy and free will are  explanatory fiction ­creativity is an explanatory fiction, a poet writes a poem just like a chicken lays an egg. Both  feel relieved after. ­science describes and predicts, it deals with past and future. ­To the extent that relevant condition that can be controlled then the future can be controlled. ­advocated control and manipulators (B.F. Skinner) ­His ideals have been implicated in prisons, schools, and corporate america. They have been  highly successful. ­Alter, change, and control human behavior. ­behavior mediation programs can change people completely. ­grades are an example of controlling our behavior. Grades are our incentive to attend class and test higher. ­ we are all controlled by external factors (grades, money, ect.) ­operant conditioning: interested in the behavior after the stimuli ­classical/ responsive conditioning:natural response to stimuli. ­operant: if after the behavior you are rewarded, you are strengthening that behavior but if you  are punished then you are weakening the behavior. ­Skinner was not an advocate for punishing but he said it was necessary to extinguish a  behavior. ­Skinner box: a box so no extraneous stimuli can get in the way that has a food hopper and  disc. A pigeon is placed in the box and every time the pigeon pecks the disc a food pellet is  given. (reinforcement) ­This is shaping the pigeon’s behavior ­continuous reinforcement schedule: reinforcing the good behavior continuously( every time the  pigeon pecks it always gets a food pellet) ­when the reinforcement stops, the pigeon no longer pecks. ­doesn’t sustain when not reinforced ­fixed interval schedules: behavior is reinforced on intervals (feed pigeon every 90 seconds)  sets up behavior stronger. ­variable interval schedule: the intervals vary( feed pigeon varying from 90 to 170 seconds) ­ratio reinforcement schedule: sets up behavior most strongly. Occasional number of response  is reinforced. ­either stop reinforcing or punish to stop behavior. ­Aversive stimuli: punishment ­extraneous pellet shooting: reinforces whatever the pigeon is doing at the moment. ­superstitious behavior comes about because of non contingent or accidental reinforcement. ­strange ritualistic behavior forms ­Skinner believes a lot of religious rituals are a result of accidental conditioning ­God is a quintessential explanatory fiction (Skinner) ­Skinner sees God and faith as useless concepts because religious people are ignorant of what  goes on in the world. ­institutionalized religion: designed program of behavior modification and control ­They are designed for the sole purpose to control behavior. ­we are always being controlled but we need to know why. ­He sees religion as using aversive stimuli ­The only people who are reinforced by religion are those in charge ­Waldon II: utopian novel from Skinner. The underlying point is since all behavior needs to be  understood, then we should set up well thought society that can produce happiness. ­The simple fact is teh religious practices have fallen away little by little. Religious faith becomes irrelevant when the fears which nourish it are taken care of. ­Skinner says there is no need for religion ­Principles, methods, and science have no need for religion. ­Religion is childish, neurotic, aversive, and punishing.


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