In this monograph, Sigmund Freud presents his first psychoanalytic comparison of religious and neurotic behavior patterns. It is guaranteed to inspire disgust and rage in 99% of all religious persons who read it.

For more on Freud's perspective on religion, see "Totem and Taboo," "Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego," and "The Future of An Illusion."

A true story: when I was a graduate student at Emory, I served as a teaching assistant at the university's school of theology, in a course for 2nd year Master of Divinity students, "Society and Personality."

The syllabus called for students to read "Obsessive Actions and Religious Practices." One of them, a middle-aged gentleman from rural Alabama, came to me in a state. He had read the monograph and felt that the guy who wrote it was sick. He showed it to his wife, a nurse, and she agreed that the author needed a psychiatrist. Eventually I was able to explain to him why a clergyperson might need to understand a little about obsessive-compulsive disorders.

Another true story: I recently visited Bob the Theologian, and he invited me to sit in on a class he is teaching at the conservative evangelical Christian college where he is a professor. That day's reading assignment included "The Future of An Illusion" and "Obsessive Actions and Religious Practices." His students discussed the readings with equanimity (though not with relish) and were quite open to my comments on the subject. My theory is that it was much easier for them to read the texts under the guidance of one of their own, not to mention that Bob the Theologian is probably a better classroom instructor than I am.

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