The author contends that psychoanalytic theory has generally presented religious beliefs as developmentally immature or pathological. This viewpoint has resulted in a neglect of religion on the part of psychoanalysts and an avoidance of their religious life by patients. Even though there has been an evolution from the traditional Freudian foundational approach to religion as an “illusion” to the inclusion of psychoanalytical training within some Christian institutes and attributions that psychoanalysis, itself, is a religion, religious beliefs should be included in psychotherapy because they can become involved in transference and countertransference issues in ways that are ignored if religious issues are not discussed in therapy. The author presents clinical material to illustrate this problem.

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Correspondence to Mariam Cohen.

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Mariam Cohen, M.D., Psy.D., Ph.D, is a retired psychiatrist, psychoanalyst in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Address Correspondence to Dr. Mariam Cohen, 4810 East Andora Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85254, USA.

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  • transference
  • countertransference
  • religion
  • working with religious issues