Freud famously hypothesized that the Judeo-Christian God is a psychological projection of nagging parental issues. Thomas B. Ellis of Appalachian State University in North Carolina continues this psychoanalytic tradition by explaining the origins and purpose of Hindu puja, or devotional worship, as compensation for emotionally distant parenting. The religious studies professor contends that puja soothes imbalanced adults starved for parental affection. This desire for emotional contact is transferred onto the stone idol. Affection-starved children also cling to their collectivist communities and become averse to contact with outsiders. Ellis’s theory would seem damning of Indian culture if he didn’t also argue that puja expresses social adaptations which aid survival in tropical regions fraught with contagious diseases. Such practices may look neurotic to outsiders, but they work.
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