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Johns Hopkins University Press


This paper offers a projection theory of religion based on an experiential analysis of Rorschach's human movement response. An experiential analysis of the movement response reveals an understanding of projection particularly appropriate for the study of religion. The relevance of Rorschachian projection to religion is due to several reasons related primarily to the fact that projection and religion share epistemological concerns. First, because of its epistemological optimism regarding the knowledge of otherness, projection provides a legitimate means of understanding (radical) otherness. Second, in projection, knowledge of the other occurs through knowledge of the self, encompassing the same epistemological processes emphasized in contemporary theological interpretations of divine otherness. Third, Rorschachian projection can accommodate both theistic and non-theistic traditions in its understanding of religion since projection and religion are both attempts to formulate the nature of selfhood, otherness, and their relationship. Finally, a discussion of the origins of the human movement response and religious experience establishes a further link between the two. It is due to their common origin in early object relations that Rorschachian projection (the movement response) is most applicable to the understanding of religion. Both projection and religion emerge from a transitional or transcendent realm between self and other. Object relations theory enables us to extrapolate toward both culture and epistemology from Rorschach's movement response.


Copyright © 1985 Association for Applied Psychoanalysis, Inc. This article first appeared in American Imago 42:2 (1985), 199-234. Reprinted with permission by Johns Hopkins University Press.

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