The Dynamics of Becoming a Psychologist of Religion: The Case of Heije Faber

In: Archive for the Psychology of Religion


This paper offers a psychobiographical study of the connection between the life and work of Heije Faber (1907-2001), the internationally best known Dutch psychologist of religion. Initially, Faber studied theology, qualifying in philosophy of religion; in later years, he studied psychology (second doctorate: 1956). As a politically active pastor, he had to hide from the Nazi-occupation of The Netherlands during World War II. In 1970 he became the first professor of the psychology of religion at a Dutch theological faculty. Faber was interested in a psychoanalytic approach to religion, by the end of his life particularly in selfpsychology as developed by Heinz Kohut. There is a curious contradiction in his work: although Faber employs several types of psychology in his autobiography to interpret aspects of his own development, he neglects the Kohutian psychology that he had himself helped to introduce to The Netherlands. This article tries to solve the paradox and suggests some psychological hypotheses as to the relationship of Faber psychodynamics and his contribution to psychology.

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