Religion, the Forbidden, and Sublimation

Dov Cohen, Emily Kim, Nathan W. Hudson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sublimation is a process whereby forbidden thoughts and emotions are channeled into productive and often creative ends. Recent experiments and surveys have provided evidence for sublimation and have also suggested variation, such that Protestants (compared with Catholics and Jews) were more likely to minimize troublesome affect and displace it into creative work. Emotion per se did not induce sublimation among Protestants; rather, it was the forbidden or suppressed nature of the emotion that was important. Attending to the religious and cultural dimensions of thought and to dual-process theories of the mind can help us understand responses to the human predicament of encountering the forbidden.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)208-214
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Directions in Psychological Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2014


  • defense mechanisms
  • religion
  • sublimation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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