Confession is healing of the soul by repentence to God mediated by a priest, psychoanalysis indulges in a confession of the secrets of the soul in order to heal. Is there any connection here or am I tying together two different ideas altogther. One theological, and the other scientific.

The article referred to in the comments notes that Jung was amongst the first to compare the two, in his article 'psychotherapy & the clergy'.

I'm asking a different question, whether there is a genealogical connection between the two.


It turns out that Foucault discusses this question in his History of Sexuality, Part III: Scientia Sexualis.

"Returning to the influence of the Catholic confession, he looks at the relationship between the confessor and the authoritarian figure that they confess to, arguing that as Roman Catholicism was eclipsed in much of Western and Northern Europe following the Reformation, the concept of confession survived and became more widespread, entering into the relationship between parent and child, patient and psychiatrist and student and educator; by the 19th century, he maintains, the "truth" of sexuality was being readily explored both through confession and scientific enquiry. Foucault proceeds to examine how the confession of sexuality then came to be "constituted in scientific terms", arguing that scientists began to trace the cause of all aspects of human psychology and society to sexual factors".

  • one could argue whether psychoanalysis can be considered "scientific" at all. – iphigenie Dec 2 '12 at 11:17
  • yes, quite. What would you suggest? Pseudo-scientific seems too pejorative considering how many artists have been inspired by freud. – Mozibur Ullah Dec 2 '12 at 13:38
  • What does the number of influenced artists have to do with its scientific status? Yes, I'd say it's quite pseudoscientific, on a very basic level, it's hardly falsifiable. As usually I can't quote anyone really big on this, but my books on philosophy of science name Freud as one of THE examples for "scientific" work that hardly fits Popper's criteria. Of course we can argue about these, too. – iphigenie Dec 2 '12 at 14:02
  • I'd say (at first and very uninformed glance) that the analogy of confession and psychotherapy is based on a very common perception of the inside and outside world. The subconscious seems to be somewhere deep inside of us, and God, strange enough, is thought to be all around but not inside of us. So no matter if it's sin or subconscious struggle, we seem to have to "let it out" in order to be rid of it. – iphigenie Dec 2 '12 at 14:09
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    This is marginally on-topic here, at best; I reckon that you'd find better answers to this question on cogsci instead. If this doesn't garner any (quality) responses we can send it their way and see what you get. – stoicfury Dec 3 '12 at 0:47

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