Paul Vitz

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Paul Vitz
Paul Clayton Vitz

(1935-08-27) August 27, 1935 (age 86)
Spouse(s)Evelyn Birge Vitz
Academic background
Alma mater
ThesisPreferences for Sequences of Tones and the Rate of Information Presentation (1962)
Academic work
Sub-disciplinePsychology of religion
InstitutionsNew York University
Notable ideasSelfism

Paul Clayton Vitz (born 1935) is an American psychologist who serves as Professor Emeritus of Psychology at New York University. His work focuses on the relationship between psychology and Christianity. He currently teaches in the Institute of the Psychological Sciences at Divine Mercy University in Sterling, Virginia.


Raised as a Presbyterian,[1] Vitz was born on August 27, 1935, in Toledo, Ohio. He moved to Minneapolis, and later to Cincinnati, Ohio, which he considers his hometown. He graduated with a BA in psychology from the University of Michigan in 1957 and with a PhD in psychology from Stanford University in 1962.

From 1962 to 1964, Vitz taught at Pomona College. Post-doc at Stanford University, Fall 1965 Assistant Professor, Psychology Department, New York University. His research was focused on perceptual and cognitive psychology, especially sequential pattern learning and visual form perception, and he received tenure Fall 1972. Vitz also had an ongoing interest in psychology and art as shown in a co-authored work: "Modern Art and Modern Science: The Parallel Analysis of Vision", 1984. His career changed markedly in the mid-seventies with his conversion from atheism to Christianity and later, in 1979, to Catholicism. His first book, "Psychology as Religion: The Cult of Self-Worship", 1977 (2nd ed. 1994), critiqued humanistic psychology, e.g. Rogers, Maslow for its radical individualism, neglect of interpersonal relationships, and its assumption that self-actualization was the meaning of life for everyone. In the early 1980s Vitz was involved in the national controversy over neglect of religion, especially Christianity in Public School textbooks. He authored "Censorship: Evidence of bias in our children's textbooks", 1984. During this decade he also wrote articles on Christian approaches to the work of Sigmund Freud, resulting in his book "Sigmund Freud's Christian Unconscious", 1988. This book provides much historical and biographical evidence for Freud's deep and lifelong involvement and ambivalence about Christianity, especially Catholicism.The significance of this concern with Christianity has been widely neglected and ignored by his biographers[where?]. Another interest at this time was moral development involving a critique of rational/cognitive approaches, e.g. Kohlberg, and an emphasis on stories. See "The use of stories in moral development: New psychological reasons for an old education method", Amer. Psychologist, 1990. In the 1980s and especially in the 90's his work turned to personality theory and Christianity and to the psychological importance of fathers. The latter culminated in a father-based book on what Vitz claims are the psychological factors which produce atheism, "Faith of the Fatherless: The Psychology of Atheism", 1999 and a 2nd ed. in 2013. He is presently working on the topics of male and female complementarity, and on a large Catholic Christian meta model of the person. At New York University he was promoted to full Professor and he retired from there in 2003 as Professor Emeritus. He is now Senior Scholar/Professor in the Institute for the Psychological Sciences, Divine Mercy University.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Vitz is married to Evelyn Birge Vitz, a Professor of French at New York University specializing in medieval studies and in the performance of medieval and other narrative works. They had six children and now twenty-two grandchildren.


  • Vitz, Paul C. (1977). Psychology as religion : the cult of self-worship. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. ISBN 0802816967.
  • Vitz, Paul C.; Glimcher, Arnold B. (1983). Modern art and modern science : the parallel analysis of vision. New York, N.Y.: Praeger. ISBN 0030624665.
  • Vitz, Paul C. (1986). Censorship : evidence of bias in our children's textbooks. Ann Arbor, Mich.: Servant Books. ISBN 089283305X.
  • Vitz, Paul C. (1988). Sigmund Freud's Christian unconscious. New York: Guilford Press. ISBN 0898626730.
  • Vitz, Paul C. (1998). Defending the Family: A Sourcebook. Steubenville, Oh: Catholic Social Science Press. ISBN 1888462000.
  • Vitz, Paul C. (2000). Faith of the fatherless : the psychology of atheism. Dallas: Spence Pub. Co. ISBN 1890626252.
  • Vitz, Paul C.; Felch, Susan M., eds. (2006). The self : beyond the postmodern crisis. Wilmington, De.: ISI Books. ISBN 1932236864.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Paul Vitz: An Atheist Presbyterian Who Became a Catholic Christian". The Coming Home Network International.
  2. ^ "FACULTY – Paul C. Vitz, Ph.D." Divine Mercy University.

External links[edit]