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Totem and Taboo Paperback – Dec 8 2011
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From the Back Cover
In this brilliant exploratory attempt to extend the analysis of the individual psyche to society and culture, Freud laid the lines for much of his late thought, and made a major contribution to the psychology of religion. Primitive societies and the individual, he found, mutually illuminate each other, and the psychology of primitive races bears marked resemblances to the psychology of neurotics. Basing his investigations on the finding of anthropologists, Freud came to the conclusion that totemism and its accompanying restriction of exogamy derive form the savage's dread of incest, and that taboo customs parallel closely the symptoms of compulsion neurosis. The killing of the 'primal father' and the consequent sense of guilt are seen as determining events both in the misty tribal pre-history of mankind, and in the suppressed wishes of individual men. Both totemism and taboo are thus held to have their roots in the Oedipus complex, which lies at the basis of all neurosis, and, as Freud argues, is also the origin of religion, ethics, society, and art. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) is one of the twentieth century's greatest minds and the founder of the psychoanalytic school of psychology. His many works include The Ego and the Id; An Outline of Psycho-Analysis; Inhibitions; Symptoms and Anxiety; New Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis; Civilization and Its Discontent, and others. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
ancient culture, especially today as culture due to globalization/industrialization, looks all too similar to most people especially as we pick up the same phones, dvd's, tv shows, and the whole modern hitech atmosphere...especially with mass communication today is one world..although some as a reaction, wanting to maintain their individuality and break from the hitech develop a unique persona and set of experiences, and this can also be part of a modern psychotherapy. Before religion there was culture, human beginnings, a set of rules and customs, and taboo. If primitive people were capable of obeying all commands, there would be no prohibitions. Read an old book like leviticus(ch 25 year of jubilee and freeing of slaves) and numbers you will see an ancient culture predating Moses and all these ancient cultural laws being subsumed into the new yhwh religion..all books ascribed to Moses. So ancient cultural rules and prohibitions..made their way in forming a new religion..Freud knows this but incest interests him its origin, which is an ancient cultural taboo. Incest was a taboo of "excessive avoidance"(p7)..this later developed into prohibition against intercourse between near relations"(p 11). These communities bear strict rules among family relations among them son/mother in law ..and family organization "no longer subject...white peoples of Europe and America"(p 14). Incest is probably the most cardinal rule of ancient culture which found its way into religion. Regarding religion belief in demons is probably older than belief in God, or perhaps polytheism developed into monotheism, even among the ancient jews who constantly were unfaithful toward other divinities..Read more ›
In this work, Freud draws heavily on observations and theories of ethnology, emphasizing on studies of Australian aborigines and Frazer's work. He draws a parellel with his personal observations from treatment of "neurotic" patients and claims to have found common patterns in these two classes of subjects, which tend to explain certain social and psychological phenomena, as well as the "birth" of religion.
He focuses on the concepts of "Totem" and "Taboo". While familiar with taboo (although our understanding of the term is narrower than Freud's), totem is remote to us. Certain aboriginal peoples were grouped in social groupings, centered on the cult of and belief of descent from a certain animal. So, you are the "Kangaroo tribe", we are the "Ostrich tribe" etc. The topic most interesting Freud, to which he devotes the first essay in the book, is "exogamy", i.e. marriage outside one's group. This practice of exogamy seems to be in contradiction to what is pursued by some ethnic groups in America (Jews and Greeks come to mind) i.e. "endogamy" - a push to have children marry within their parents' ethnic group. This practice of exogamy in Australian aborigines is attributed by Freud to fear of incest, with quite convincing arguments.
What is challening is to concoct a theory that suggests totemism and exogamy are not orthogonal social institutions that just happenned to coexist, but intricately bound together. Freud accomplishes that through intricate reasoning that draws heavily on religion (in his 4th essay).Read more ›
The prior standard way of seeing these types of primitive manifestation was to see them trough the amount of dread the primitive men have against the manifestation of some praeternatural agency, to use a term used by Mr.Thorstein Veblen, a contemporary of Freud, in his magnificent book on the leisure class (The Theory of the Leisure Class). It is worthy to note that nobody can be sure on the origins of this type of tradition and that adds substance to Mr.Freud's arguments.
Sigmund Freud goes a step further to the classical view and says that totemism and taboo as animism are the manifestation of something not outside ourselves but rather inside human minds of the primitive people, where the unconscious played a good part to the forming of this kind of culture manifestation and where there is an intricate and unconscious and almost mathematical calculation in order to attribute to the priest-king, who typifies the carrier of this tradition, both the pleasures and the burden of the function.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I do not recommend this book or publishing company to anyone. The lack of editing shown by grammatical errors, improper syntax, and spelling mistakes really takes away from the... Read morePublished on Feb. 18 2012 by Margaret
Totem and Taboo, along with _The Future of an Illusion_, should be necessary reading for any serious student of social science. Read morePublished on Nov. 11 2001 by Amazon Customer
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