Freud vs. Ilych
Image you are on your deathbed and you are terrified of something or nothing happening to you after you are gone. Do you suddenly believe in a God, or do you count your blessings and just pass on? I feel that Freud would just have counted his blessings. Freud's critiques on religion are related to Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilych in such that helplessness was a neurosis.
According to Freud, humans belonged to civilization to control nature and to regulate human relations. In Ivan's case he was trying to fit in a society that he did not blend with. However, Freud claimed that humans have often paid a great price for civilization; this price, he believed, was neurosis. Ivan's neurosis was all work and no play, which ate at him on his death bed. He needed something to believe in, i.e. God, in order to die peacefully. Freud suggested that religion and ethics, to this point, have acted to maintain civilization, as was Ivan's struggle. Freud also proposed that humans were helpless before the forces of nature and thus "needed" something to protect them. Thus, he concluded that religion has sprung out of helplessness and therefore was unhealthy to the individual. As seen with Ivan's suffering on his deathbed. Freudian criticism of belief in God is that such a belief is untrustworthy because of its psychological origin. That is, God is a projection of our own intense, unconscious desires; He is a wish fulfillment derived from childish needs for protection and security. This protection and security is what Ivan was looking for as he was leaving the world, as he knew it. The terrifying impression of helplessness in childhood aroused the need for protection through love-which was provided by the father.
Children, however, look to their parents to protect them from danger. Adults thus create gods for themselves precisely because they had similar "gods" in their homes as they grew up. This relates to The Death of Ivan Ilych because I feel that when Ivan's son touched Ivan's hand Ivan realized that his childhood is when he was whole. At the end of Ivan's life, he started to look for something meaningful in his life. Ivan was meaningful to his son, but Ivan would ask who or what is meaningful for me. Freud suggests that perhaps the greatest danger of facing a person is his or her own eventual demise. Religion, however, typically promises...