email page print pageAll Topic Reviews
A Basic Theory of NeuropsychoanalysisA Cursing Brain?A Dream of Undying FameA Map of the MindAfter LacanAgainst AdaptationAgainst FreudAn Anatomy of AddictionAnalytic FreudAndré Green at the Squiggle FoundationAnger, Madness, and the DaimonicAnna FreudAnna Freud: A BiographyApproaching PsychoanalysisAttachment and PsychoanalysisBadiouBecoming a SubjectBefore ForgivingBerlin PsychoanalyticBetween Emotion and CognitionBeyond GenderBeyond SexualityBeyond the Pleasure PrincipleBiology of FreedomBoundaries and Boundary Violations in PsychoanalysisBuilding on BionCare of the PsycheCarl JungCassandra's DaughterCherishmentConfusion of TonguesContemporary Psychoanalysis and the Legacy of the Third ReichCrucial Choices, Crucial ChangesCulture and Conflict in Child and Adolescent Mental HealthDarwin's WormsDesert Islands and Other Texts (1953-1974)Dispatches from the Freud WarsDoes the Woman Exist?Doing Psychoanalysis in TehranDreaming and Other Involuntary MentationDreaming by the BookEnergy Psychology InteractiveEqualsErrant SelvesEthics and the Discovery of the UnconsciousEthics Case Book of the American Psychoanalytic AssociationFairbairn's Object Relations Theory in the Clinical SettingFed with Tears -- Poisoned with MilkFeminism and Its DiscontentsForms of Intersubjectivity in Infant Reasearch and Adult TreatmentFour Lessons of PsychoanalysisFratricide in the Holy LandFreudFreudFreudFreudFreudFreudFreud and the Question of PseudoscienceFreud As PhilosopherFreud at 150Freud's AnswerFreud's WizardFreud, the Reluctant PhilosopherFrom Classical to Contemporary PsychoanalysisFundamentals of Psychoanalytic TechniqueGenes on the CouchGoing SaneHans BellmerHappiness, Death, and the Remainder of LifeHate and Love in Psychoanalytical InstitutionsHatred and ForgivenessHealing the Soul in the Age of the BrainHeinz KohutHeinz KohutHidden MindsHistory of ShitHope and Dread in PsychoanalysisImagination and Its PathologiesImagine There's No WomanIn Freud's TracksIn SessionIn the Floyd ArchivesIntimaciesIntimate RevoltIrrationalityIs Oedipus Online?Jacques LacanJacques Lacan and the Freudian Practice of PsychoanalysisJung and the Making of Modern PsychologyJung Stripped BareKilling FreudLacanLacanLacanLacan and Contemporary FilmLacan at the SceneLacan For BeginnersLacan in AmericaLacan TodayLacan's Seminar on AnxietyLawLearning from Our MistakesLove's ExecutionerMad Men and MedusasMale Female EmailMelanie KleinMemoirs of My Nervous IllnessMental SlaveryMind to MindMixing MindsMoral StealthMourning and ModernityMovies and the MindMurder in ByzantiumNew Studies of Old VillainsNocturnesNoir AnxietyOn Being Normal and Other DisordersOn BeliefOn IncestOn Not Being Able to SleepOn the Freud WatchOn the Way HomeOpen MindedOpera's Second DeathOvercoming Destructive Beliefs, Feelings, and BehaviorsPhenomology & Lacan on Schizophrenia, After the Decade of the BrainPhilosophical Counselling and the UnconsciousPractical Psychoanalysis for Therapists and PatientsPsychiatry, Psychoanalysis, And The New Biology Of MindPsychoanalysisPsychoanalysis and Narrative MedicinePsychoanalysis and NeurosciencePsychoanalysis and the Philosophy of SciencePsychoanalysis as Biological SciencePsychoanalysis at the MarginsPsychoanalysis at the MarginsPsychoanalysis in a New LightPsychoanalysis in FocusPsychology, Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis, and the Politics of Human RelationshipsPsychotherapy As PraxisPutnam CampQuestions for FreudRe-Inventing the SymptomReading Seminar XXReinventing the SoulRelational Theory and the Practice of PsychotherapyRelationalityRepressed SpacesRevolt, She SaidSecrets of the SoulSerious ShoppingSex on the CouchSexuationSigmund FreudSoul Murder RevisitedSpectral EvidenceSpirit, Mind, and BrainStrangers to OurselvesSubjective Experience and the Logic of the OtherSubjectivity and OthernessSubstance Abuse As SymptomSurrealist Painters and PoetsTaboo SubjectsTalk is Not EnoughThe Arabic FreudThe Art of the SubjectThe Brain and the Inner WorldThe Brain, the Mind and the SelfThe Cambridge Companion to LacanThe Challenge for Psychoanalysis and PsychotherapyThe Clinical LacanThe Colonization Of Psychic SpaceThe Condition of MadnessThe Couch and the TreeThe Cruelty of DepressionThe Dissociative Mind in PsychoanalysisThe Dreams of InterpretationThe Examined LifeThe Fall Of An IconThe Freud EncyclopediaThe Freud FilesThe Freud WarsThe Fright of Real TearsThe Future of PsychoanalysisThe Gift of TherapyThe Heart & Soul of ChangeThe Knotted SubjectThe Last Good FreudianThe Letters of Sigmund Freud and Otto RankThe Mind According to ShakespeareThe Mystery of PersonalityThe Mythological UnconsciousThe Neuropsychology of the UnconsciousThe New PsychoanalysisThe Power of FeelingsThe Psychoanalytic MovementThe Psychoanalytic MysticThe Psychoanalytic Study of the ChildThe Psychoanalytic Study of the ChildThe Psychodynamics of Gender and Gender RoleThe Puppet and the DwarfThe Real World Guide to Psychotherapy PracticeThe Revolt of the PrimitiveThe Seminar of Moustafa SafouanThe Sense and Non-Sense of RevoltThe Shortest ShadowThe Social History of the UnconsciousThe Surface EffectThe Symmetry of GodThe Tragedy of the SelfThe Trainings of the PsychoanalystThe UnsayableThe World of PerversionTherapeutic ActionTherapy's DelusionsThis Incredible Need to BelieveThoughts Without A ThinkerTo Redeem One Person Is to Redeem the WorldTrauma and Human ExistenceTraumatizing TheoryUmbr(a)Unconscious knowing and other essays in psycho-philosophical analysisUnderstanding Dissidence and Controversy in the History of PsychoanalysisUnderstanding PsychoanalysisUnfree AssociationsWalking HeadsWay Beyond FreudWhat Does a Woman Want?What Freud Really MeantWhen the Body SpeaksWhere Do We Fall When We Fall in Love?Whose Freud?Why Psychoanalysis?Wilhelm ReichWinnicottWinnicott On the ChildWisdom Won from IllnessWittgenstein on Freud and FrazerWittgenstein Reads FreudWorld, Affectivity, TraumaZizek
In critical theory circles, Julia Kristeva is perhaps best known for her work on Lacanian psychoanalysis. In feminist circles, she is known for her work on the semiotic and the maternal chora. In literary circles, she is known for her psychoanalytic-based critique and for her detective novels. This volume of interviews and speaking engagements establishes that Kristeva also has a voice in religious discourse.
In This Incredible Need to Believe, Kristeva considers the relationship between Freudian psychoanalysis and the psychic phenomenon of belief. The breadth of Kristeva's intellectual capacity is fully at work here. This text brings her linguistic, psychoanalytic and philosophical backgrounds together and applies them to the question of religion. Christianity and, more specifically Catholicism, dominate the book; yet there are inroads taken into analyzing connections between all three monotheistic religions.
The book is split into five chapters and contains a preface, a letter to Frédéric Boyer, who has published a number of titles in French, but is less-known in English-speaking circles. Following the preface, the book is organized around lectures and interviews conducted in France and Italy between 2005 and 2006. The bulk of the book is taken from an interview with Carmine Donzelli conducted in front of an Italian audience. Other lectures and interviews follow. Of note is Kristeva's talk entitled "Suffering" given alongside Anne-Marie Pelletier at the Lenin Lectures in Paris in 2006.
Most interesting for psychoanalysis is Kristeva's use and departure from Freudian theory. Unlike Freud, Kristeva claims that religion is not an illusion. Rather, religion evidences a primary "need to believe" located in the Freudian unconscious. She states her thesis clearly: "the different beliefs and kinds of spiritualities accommodate, encourage, or make use of precise psychic moments, which allow the human being to become a speaking being, a seat of culture or, inversely, of destructiveness." (24) For Kristeva, the need to believe is fundamental to the human psyche. It makes thought and culture possible.
She therefore stresses that the need to believe is not a religious need, but a psychic need. For this reason, it is found both in religious cultures and in secular ones. To illustrate her point, she assigns the term "pre-religious" a technical specificity. She investigates her claim by considering how the pre-religious psyche emerges in cultural contexts: adolescence, female genius, Islamic fundamentalism are but a few examples. She also theorizes how the pre-religious need to believe might be useful in stifling the threat of religion-based terrorism.
Kristeva is adept at employing psychoanalytic and linguistic theory to help us better understand the cultures in which we live. This text builds on her work of the last few years, which has focused on what she calls the "automation" of the human subject. The term automation expresses her concern that technology - the prevalence of images, laptops, mobile phones, etc. - is doing away with creative thinking. Rather than being a tool, technology manages the thoughts and lives of humans, reducing them to banality.
For Kristeva, psychoanalysis can aid in preventing automation and the banality that follows because it, like Christianity, focuses on the inwardness (the unconscious) of the individual. This focus on inwardness is not, however, a focus on individuality. Rather than individualism, Kristeva argues for "singularity". By singularity, she describes a psyche connected to and formed by those with which it lives. Thus, for her, psychoanalysis aids in preventing automation by creating new bonds between the inwardness of the individual and the community in which he or she lives.
Kristeva's language is structured by her roots in Freudian, Lacanian and Kleinian thought and by her vast knowledge of philosophy. As such, the text will prove challenging for those outside psychoanalysis, who are not familiar with those discourses. However, for those seeking out an explanation of the relation between Kristeva's previous work and her current focus on belief, this book will prove invaluable.
© 2010 Elisha Foust
Elisha Foust is a PhD candidate in the Modern Languages department at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her research focuses on female ethical responsibility, phenomenology and French psychoanalysis. She may be contacted at: email@example.com.