The Future of an Illusion
  • Publication Date: February 27, 2012
  • ISBN: 9781554810659 / 1554810655
  • 216 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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The Future of an Illusion

  • Publication Date: February 27, 2012
  • ISBN: 9781554810659 / 1554810655
  • 216 pages; 5½" x 8½"

Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, declared that religion is a universal obsessional neurosis in his famous work of 1927, The Future of an Illusion. This work provoked immediate controversy and has continued to be an important reference for anyone interested in the intersection of philosophy, psychology, religion, and culture.

Included in this volume is Oskar Pfister’s critical engagement with Freud’s views on religion. Pfister, a Swiss pastor and lay analyst, defends mature religion from Freud’s “scientism.” Freud’s and Pfister’s texts have been updated in Gregory C. Richter’s translations from the original German.


“This new edition and translation of Sigmund Freud’s The Future of an Illusion has much to recommend it. The Introduction, in particular, is a gem of insightful analysis of the conflicting motives and logical inconsistencies that characterize Freud’s arguments in this controversial essay. In laying bare the contradictions inherent in this work, Dufresne brings a fresh and incisive understanding to a book that, despite well-justified skepticism about its scientific merits, remains a thought-provoking and quintessentially Freudian explication of religious belief.” — Frank J. Sulloway, University of California, Berkeley, and author of Freud, Biologist of the Mind: Beyond the Psychoanalytic Legend and Born to Rebel: Birth Order, Family Dynamics, and Creative Lives

“This new Broadview Press edition is a wonderful example of rigorous and imaginative scholarly collaboration. Gregory Richter provides a lucid and lively translation, and some searching reflections on the problems of translation, while Todd Dufresne contextualizes Freud’s puzzling, late life assault on organized religion, and his equivocal embrace of Enlightenment positivism. Oskar Pfister, one of the book’s earliest and most cogent critics, is also discussed with admirable clarity and charm. Bravo!” — Daniel Burston, Duquesne University, and author of The Legacy of Erich Fromm

“Gregory C. Richter’s fluent new translation shows one of Freud’s most popular books to be as clear, colloquial, and compelling as anything else by the master of psychoanalysis, and Todd Dufresne’s entertaining introduction makes a good case for its surprising contemporary relevance, in spite of its often puzzling arguments.” — Thomas Kemple, University of British Columbia

Introduction, Todd Dufresne
Sigmund Freud: A Brief Chronology
Translator’s Note, Gregory C. Richter

The Future of an Illusion

Appendix A: “The Illusion of a Future”: Oskar Pfister’s Response to Freud’s The Future of an Illusion

Appendix B: Other Works by Freud and Pfister on Religion

  1. Sigmund Freud, “Obsessive Actions and Religious Practices” (1907)
  2. From Sigmund Freud, Totem and Taboo (1913)
  3. From Sigmund Freud, “Scientific Interest in Psychoanalysis” (1913)
  4. From Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents (1930)
  5. From Sigmund Freud, Moses and Monotheism: Three Essays (1939)
  6. From Oskar Pfister, On the Psychology of Philosophical Thought (1923)



Todd Dufresne is Professor of Philosophy at Lakehead University & Visiting Professor (Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology) at the University of Toronto. He is the author of several books on Freud including Tales From the Freudian Crypt (Stanford UP).

Gregory C. Richter is Professor of German and Linguistics at Truman State University and the translator of many works from German and French. Dufresne and Richter have also collaborated on the Broadview Edition of Beyond the Pleasure Principle.

For a sample of Gregory C. Richter’s translation of The Future of an Illusion, click here. (Opens as a PDF.)