Religious Experience and Early Imprinting


Freud saw the world of dreams as the royal road to the unconsciousness of the individual. It is the argument of this paper that the world of religious experience constitutes the royal road into the common unconscious of our civilisation, for it codes in common symbols the displaced roots of our common pre and perinatal imprinting. Where the imprinting, fixation, and the defences are shared in common, they form the ground of religious experience throughout our civilisation. We do not achieve access to this material by examining sickness or deviance of individuals, but by paying attention to the common patterns, myths, rituals and symbols of our society. The paper was first presented in Göttingen in September 1992 at the First International Conference of the European College for the Study of Consciousness, entitled ‘Worlds of Consciousness’.