Psychology as religion

As everyone knows, psychology is the most widespread “secular religion” today. It has been so since the second half of the 20th century, and it also remains the most institutionally embedded one. Its different denominations, metaphysical and spiritual guides, moral precepts and popular catechisms are everywhere. Just this morning at a railway station newsstand:

The title only speaks of “Trust and Gratitude,” yet the picture evokes obvious religious allusions: a gesture imitating praying and a heart-shaped halo (?) around the central figure, which make it look like a modern version of a saint’s (the Virgin’s?) image. Regarding the negative connotations of the word “religion” nowadays, no one will ever akcnowledge that this iconography is religious, however. Which only shows the effort of modern and postmodern ideologies to fill the gap left by the decline of their premodern counterparts without being able to create something truly different.

The religion of psychology (which may only be a supplement to the even wider cult of the Self) was thoroughly examined by Paul C. Vitz as early as 1977 (a second edition was published in 1995):

The religious ambition, to be sure, is not necessarily characteristic of all branches of psychology. Yet “psychology” as a whole is not a scientific endeavour to explain certain features of the physical world but an attempt to find meaning in spiritual beings’ lives. Without this, it could never have become the most general substitute for so-called (but just as non-scientific) “religious” traditions.