Religious hatred and its contribution to human conflict
: Exploring psychodynamic approaches and some implications for dialogue and diapraxis

  • Andrew A Floyer-Acland

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


The purpose of this dissertation is to investigate religious hatred, seeking to understand its particular intensity from a psychodynamic point of view, and to identify some of the implications of this understanding for scholar-practitioners working in the field of conflict resolution.
The dissertation begins by establishing the parameters of the investigation and the methodologies used. Following a review of selected literatures of conflict resolution and transformation, psychology of religion and psychodynamic psychology, highlighting in particular scholarship that pertains to religious hatred, the dissertation identifies and examines six dimensions of religion (identity, doctrine and practice, emotion and experience, mythology, sacred values and power and control), looking for insights into how and why religious hatred may evolve into marginalisation, persecution and even genocide.
The dissertation argues that the intensity of religious hatred is caused as much by the psychological nature of religious belief as by its social, political or historical context. It argues that psychodynamic concepts such as personal and cultural complexes, narcissism, the divided self and the shadow provide important insights into religious hatred and explain the threat that such hatred poses to those who may be considered Other.
The dissertation concludes by exploring how dialogue and diapraxis can take account of psychodynamic insight and enable people in conflict to explore their beliefs, relationships and perceptions of Others, and to transform historic and present prejudices, stereotypes and misunderstandings.
Date of Award11 May 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorRita E M Langer (Supervisor) & David Leech (Supervisor)


  • religious hatred
  • conflict
  • psychology
  • belief
  • Other
  • dialogue
  • diapraxis
  • cultural complex

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