By Michael Argyle (Eds.)
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Additional resources for Advances in the Psychology of Religion
A m a n does not recognize himself; he feels himself transformed a n d consequently he transforms the environment which s u r r o u n d s him. In order to account for the very particular impressions which he receives, he attributes t o the things with which he is in most direct contact properties which they have not, exceptional powers a n d virtues . . In a word, above the real world where his profane life passes he has placed another . . (Dürkheim, 1915, p. 422). It is interesting to note that Durkheim's theory of religion is essentially the same as Freud's.
Since society cannot exist unless these requirements are satisfied, and since religion is a necessary condition for their satisfaction, social needs cause the existence of religion (see Radcliffe-Brown, 1952, pp. 153-177). Although this argument is not entirely devoid of psychology (religion functions to sustain social sentiments), religion is not taken to be generated by the psychological responses of participants to their experiences of society. The Durkheimian theory is replaced by the obscure teleological theory that latent social needs can generate a religious response, which is an appropriate response because of the latent functions performed by religion.
And, of course, what is satisfying is likely to encourage engagement and persistence. Motivational explanations are perhaps most commonly encountered in attempts to explain changes of frequency in religious activity. Lewis, for example, argues that there is a connection between the incidence of stress and possession by malevolent spirits. People "allow" themselves to be possessed because it is to their advantage. We have traced the widespread ascription of misfortune and illness to a m o r a l peripheral spirits which plague the weak a n d d o w n - t r o d d e n .