Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2020 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming

Kierkegaard, Søren

  • Tadd RuetenikEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-24348-7_374

Danish theologian Søren Kierkegaard is often referred to as the father of existentialism, and not the father of depth psychology. His 1849 book The Sickness unto Death, however, is an exposition of human consciousness that is comparable to the work of Freud in important respects. Both Kierkegaard and Freud stressed the relative impotence of the ego in relation to nonrational forces in the mind, and both attempted to provide a remedy for this precarious condition. What makes Kierkegaard’s work in depth psychology unique is its explicitly Christian focus. Sickness is marked with the subtitle A Christian Psychological Exposition for Edification and Awakening and provides a detailed account of the disease of despair, which is understood as Godlessness. Another of Kierkegaard’s works, Fear and Trembling, takes the Genesis story of Abraham’s attempted sacrifice of Isaac and provides a beautiful depiction of psychological endurance in the face of absurdity. It, like Sickness, operates on the...

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  1. Kierkegaard, S. (1983a). Fear and trembling/repetition: Kierkegaard’s writings (Vol. 6). Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Kierkegaard, S. (1983b). The sickness unto death: Kierkegaard’s writings (Vol. 19). Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.St. Ambrose UniversityDavenportUSA