How does psychoanalysis become a pseudo-religion?
I have long opined on this topic. Recently, I discovered a paper by an analyst named Melitta Schmideberg—aka the daughter of Melanie Klein—published in 1938. (Via, Jacques van Rillaer in Mediapart.) In it Schmideberg offers some salient comparisons between psychoanalysis and religious experience. I only regret that I did not know of it when I wrote my book The Last Psychoanalyst:
In his over-evaluation of analysis the patient often repeats his attitude to religion: he makes the same desperate efforts to believe in it and the same excessive demands from it. The analyst can convince him only if he makes symptoms disappear the way that Christ performed miracles of healing. In return for this he is prepared to believe only a thorough analysis can save him from the agonies of mental suffering and bring eternal happiness, just as the true believer will be saved from hell and enjoy eternal bliss in the life after death. But one must believe implicitly – ‘be free from resistances’. Such religious ideas about analysis are often accompanied by a religious self-righteousness, and intolerance at its worst for the slightest deviation from what the patient conceives to be the accepted analytic doctrine or any possible doubt or criticism of it. He betrays an over estimation of the ‘correct’ analytic terms and rituals similar to that of the liturgy of the church. He holds that interpretations, like prayers, must be given in the right order and form, and he demands that every child be analyzed at an early age, as others insist he shall be baptized. He sets out to convert others, sometimes the most unsuitable persons under the most absurd circumstances, much as the evangelists went out to preach the Bible.